London Community News
By Sean Meyer/London Community News/Twitter: Newswriter22
Ann-Marie Ricketts is excited about the upcoming fundraiser for her organization dedicated to helping single mothers.
However, while she certainly is looking forward to the additional funds the event will raise, it a different kind of measure of success Ricketts is hoping to see in support of Single Women in Motherhood (SWIM).
“The anticipation of the turnout is overwhelming. I am just excited to see how many ambassadors single mothers have standing in the gap for them,” said Ricketts, SWIM’s executive director and founder. “I am also excited to see champions coming forward to hold hands, to see these women cross the line. The excitement inside is burning. It is tummy twisting, The butterflies are floating with the anticipation we can do this, we can make a difference.”
The SWIM fundraiser is SMART, which in this case means Strong Mothers Achieving Remarkable Triumph. SMART is a scholarship, four in fact, which will see $2,000 distributed among four recipients. The fundraiser takes place Sept. 28 at the London Hilton.
Guest speakers include Divine Brown, an artist and 2009 Juno Award winner for Best R&B album and a single mother herself, and Nadine Williams, a Toronto-based poet, author and single mother. Mandi Fields, CTV’s community relations co-ordinator will serve as MC while Sandra Drozd, a lawyer from Lerners Law Firm, and a single mother, will be speaking on education and career.
“The dynamic of this show is strong women inspiring the next generation,” Ricketts said. “We are recognizing where these women are in their journeys and show single moms can succeed, it can be done.”
That message, Ricketts said, is one SWIM shares with everyone who uses its programs. Life skills training, life-coaching workshops, childcare exchange programs and other service and educational programs have all been a part of SWIM since Ricketts started the organization in 2002.
“They say encouragement sweetens labour. If you keep encouraging, you will have greater growth,” Ricketts said. “We are strictly designed to empower single moms, to give them support, to recognize their achievements, to encourage them, to give them back a voice, to break the cycle of the word single mother.”
One way to do this is through SMART, which Ricketts founded to provide single mothers with an extra level of financial support. Ricketts said the scholarships are a way of honouring single mothers in London and the surrounding area.
Not surprisingly, that large an area includes many single mothers who are deserving of the scholarship’s benefits. Those benefits, Ricketts said, include everything from childcare and babysitting to books and program fees.
“We are honouring four single moms in the London community. We have had applications from all around the area,” Ricketts said. “This is to give them that extra push towards success and achievement; just making sure that door stays open for them.”
Ricketts said the scholarship winners were chosen by a committee that read through the applications and awarded each points. The four applications with the most points were awarded the scholarships.
To ensure fairness, Ricketts said she wasn’t a part of the committee, as she personally knows many of the women who applied due to their involvement with SWIM programs. Not surprisingly, Ricketts said she didn’t even the committee members for the work they had to do.
“It was tough for the committee; these are personal stories. These women are telling their journey, where they came from,” Ricketts said. “How does one value that? How does one judge that? It is what connected for the committee.”
There are 150 seats available for the fundraiser and Ricketts said her hope is to sell out each one of the $45 tickets. However, Ricketts said a donation will also be accepted in return.
For more information on Single Women in Motherhood, visit www.singlewomeninmotherhood.com, the organization’s Facebook page or phone 519-432-5454.
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