Since 1989, the non-profit organization, The Ark has been serving and empowering the working poor of Athens, Georgia.
“It is our vision to provide help, hope, understanding and advocacy for our Neighbors in financial crisis, helping them move toward self-sufficiency,” a statement about the organization reads.
And on that special day for mom’s, Mother’s Day, they sprinkle kindness with their annual Adopt-a-Mom campaign, which is now in its 4th year and has proven to be widely successful with over 200 moms and grandma’s being “adopted” this year.
Adoption means that mothers, who would have otherwise gone unnoticed, receive a fresh flower bouquet and a handwritten card.
Kemaly Paulk was one such mom and can be seen in the video below, thankful for being so appreciated.
Kamaly relays her story to Kindness & Hope, “My name is Kemaly Paulk and I am 36 and mother of two. My son is 4 and my daughter is two. The Ark has just been a tremendous blessing to me and my family. I was introduced to the Ark by some friends and family. I was out of work and behind on my light bill. The Ark helped pay my light bill and came through for me and my family with food assistance too. I am back to work now, but they didn’t stop there. Just recently they reached out with the adopt a mom. I was adopted for Mother’s Day and reminded how special I am and how people still care and think of each other. I am just speechless every time I think about how selfless and caring the people at the Ark are. If no one has told them the work they do matters and they are truly appreciated. From my family to my neighbors at the Ark, thank you for all you do!”
Stephanie Cockfield, the Financial Education Director of The Ark, explains how the Adopt-a-Mom project came about.
“The Ark serves the low-income population of Athens-Clarke County and surrounding counties with emergency financial assistance,” she says. “What we found is that a huge portion of the population we serve turn out to be single working mothers. We created Adopt-a-Mom as a means to show our moms how special they are on Mother’s Day while collecting donations to help them throughout the year. We pride ourselves on taking a holistic approach to financial assistance which means we really get to know the people we help. In getting to know our “neighbors in need”, we see their struggles and the toll it takes on a person living paycheck to paycheck while navigating unexpected expenses and juggling kids’ schedules and they deserved to be honored.”
She continues: “Adopt-a-Mom allows members from the community to essentially “adopt” a mom from our list of moms for a small donation to the Ark of $25. Our list is compiled of single working mothers who have received assistance in the past 1-2 years and nursing home moms who are sent to us by local nursing homes as moms who might go unnoticed or uncelebrated on Mother’s Day. Local sponsors help cover the costs of flowers and cards so that all the money raised goes directly to our Single Working Mother’s Fun to help us serve them all year round.”
In four years, the total of moms adopted has reached 671 moms, and for Stephanie there have been some very special moments.
” My most tear-jerking memories come from the nursing home deliveries. It is always a joy to see their faces light up at the sight of our flowers,” she explains. “Everyone is so appreciative and thank you a million times. We delivered to a lady yesterday and she immediately starting tearing up – she said she hadn’t been visited by her family in two years and Mother’s Day is always a harsh reminder of that. With tears streaming down her face, she hugged us and said that she would have a good Mother’s Day now thanks to us. The saddest part is she is on hospice which means she doesn’t have that much longer to live and this could possibly be her last Mother’s Day. I am so grateful that we were able to make it a good one for her and remind her that she is not alone and someone out there is thinking of her.
“Another story that has recently touched me is an email we received from a mom in hopes of being adopted. This email was very unusual since our moms don’t even know they are on a list, so we usually don’t get requests to be added to the adoption list. But this mom had heard our story in a local news outlet and reached out to us to help make her day special. I was so moved by her story that I put her on the adoption list and adopted her myself! She said it was ok to share her story so folks can get an idea of what the moms on our adoption list are going through:
Subject Too late to be considered???
Message: I’m a single mom of 4 children who is ADA and unable to work. I’ve been a single parent since 1997 and have always been forgotten when it comes to Mother’s Day. I’ve been undergoing treatment for severe depression, PTSD and anxiety so have been unable to work for almost 2 years. It would really brighten my day to receive acknowledgement as a Mom on Mother’s Day. Is it too late to sign up? Right now I’m in weekly outpatient treatment services for my diagnosis, but Mothers Day is one of the worse holidays for me since my son committed suicide almost 2 years ago. I could really use something to brighten my day. Thank you for your consideration. Jodi.”
For Stephanie, who is spreading Kindness and Hope every day, what it means to her is very simple: loving others.
“Kindness and hope means to me to love others unconditionally and never make assumptions about people,” she says. “We never know what someone else is going through or why they respond to things the way they do until we walk a mile in their shoes. At my job and in my life, I try to walk as many miles as I can in other people’s shoes and sometimes I end up buying them a new pair of shoes 😊”
Note: The Ark is still accepting donations for their Single Working Mother’s Fund, which helps single working moms year-round with rent and utilities when facing an eviction or disconnection due to a loss of income or unexpected expense beyond their control. These donations can also be made in honor or in memory of a mom who has touched your life in a major way.
*** The Ark is our Non-Profit of the Week