Local moms create nonprofit to help working single parentsJun 15, 2020 11:02AM ● By Stephanie Yrungaray
Alissa Harrod (second from left) and Meghann Brimhall (fourth from left) with volunteers at a fundraiser at Chick-fil-A. (Photo courtesy of The Single Parent Project)
By Stephanie Yrungaray | [email protected]
Serendipity, fate, a higher power...whatever you want to call it there has been something at work in how quickly the nonprofit organization The Single Parent Project has come together.
Meghann Brimhall had long recognized how valuable her support system was when she was a single mom. As she interacted with other single parents who didn’t have as much help, her desire grew to do something about it.
“The vision came to me about how great it would be to pay it forward,” Brimhall said. “I wanted to be a support system to somebody else who is a single parent and who doesn’t have nearby family or friends.”
Brimhall’s goal for 2019 was to start a nonprofit organization for single parents. On Dec. 26, she was upset that another year had passed and she hadn’t accomplished her goal.
“I started doing research and The Single Parent Project name came to mind,” Brimhall said. “There was no group with that name on Facebook so I hurried to create a page. I saw I could use the name on Instagram and there was an available website with that name so I went for it.”
In January 2020, Brimhall started working on the Facebook page and added close friends to get feedback. One of her friends misunderstood and shared the fledgling page, and The Single Parent Project took off.
“We raised $1,500 fairly quickly and were able to help three parents right off the bat,” Brimhall said. “It was super exciting, and I started posting on social media.”
Enter Alissa Harrod.
A former Riverton High classmate, Harrod saw Brimhall’s posts and offered to help. She too, had always had a dream of starting an organization to help others.
“I’ve worked in mental health and was the director of business development for a hospital,” Harrod said. “I wanted to have an organization that helped with mental health in general and at the same time Meghann was pushing play I was writing up a program of my own. We were able to mix our drive and passion to help those in need and it has been phenomenal.”
Although Brimhall and Harrod had no experience starting or running a nonprofit organization, they have been able to learn and accomplish many goals in a short time frame.
They applied for the nonprofit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in February.
“We were told by multiple other nonprofits that for some people it was taking between nine months to three years to get approved,” Harrod said. “We got the approval in eight weeks.”
They moved into a physical space in Draper in April and in just 12 weeks, The Single Parent Project raised over $15,000 in monetary and in-kind donations. They were able to provide financial help for 120 families that ranged from rent money and daycare expenses to groceries and gas bills and many other expenses in between.
The focus of the Single Parent Project is to help working single parents who fall in the gap between receiving government assistance and making enough money to live comfortably.
“When I was a single mom I applied for Medicaid and got denied,” Brimhall recalled. “I had a house payment, and I was also paying for type 1 diabetic insulin and diabetic needs. [Government assistance] doesn’t take everything into consideration.”
Besides helping with unmet physical needs, Brimhall and Harrod want The Single Parent Project to provide families with mental health resources and a supportive community.
“We are going to provide outpatient service and support groups for families,” Brimhall said.
“We’re working on programs to help parents with resiliency, trauma and dealing with conflict,” Harrod said. “These group settings are important to single parents and we want to help them develop confidence. It’s important to take care of yourself so you can be a better mom, a better employee, and a better person all around.”
Brimhall and Harrod have a one-year goal to assist 500 families in 2020.
“I would say that we are on track to hit that goal,” Harrod said. “We are hoping with grant opportunities we will hit the $150,000 mark and then some. We’ve already started working on educational courses and support groups.”
“Our goals are always changing as we learn all we can do to assist these families,” Brimhall said. “We've always said that we want to help with short-term housing and now we also want to assist with long-term housing.”
They also hope to help families reach educational goals and would love to partner with local universities and offer scholarships.
The Single Parent Project is a passion project for the cofounders who also have jobs and are moms to a blended family of six kids (Brimhall) and three kids (Harrod). They hope that helping people will one day be their full-time gig.
The duo is amazed and excited about how quickly their project has grown and appreciate all of the support from friends and community members.
“We've had a lot of support from people who were single parents or raised by single parents,” Brimhall said. “It has been very rewarding to see these people give back and have our community rally behind us. It is fun to see it grow and have everybody celebrate successes with you.”
“To raise the amount of money we have in such little time helps us know that we have found that niche that is overlooked,” Harrod said. “This is happening for a reason.”
They still need as much help as they can get to reach their goals and assist as many working single parents as possible. Find out more information on how you can help or receive help on their website www.thesingleparentproject.org or their social media pages on Facebook or Instagram @thesingleparentproject.
“Anytime we feel like there is a roadblock something else happens and pushes us forward,” Harrod said. “We know we are in the right place doing the right things. It has been a great experience.”