Giving Strength to Loving Arms: How the "Mojo" program enables single moms to work and love their children
Cost and planning: those are two famous words that enter into our lives as we grow older and learn to live on our own. That doubles and even triples when it comes to balancing out the costs and labor involved with raising our children. You are now in charge of taking care of yourself while providing for the needs of someone too young and immature to care for themselves. It’s not an easy job to handle for two full-time working parents.
So imagine how daunting that task is when a single mother is forced to handle that responsibility on her own? She has no husband or boyfriend to share the financial burden or time demands that comes with raising the young. It is her and her alone that shoulders these responsibilities, which can be a serious determent to the well-being of her health and the proper upbringing of her kids.
Twin brothers Darr and Tom Aley decided that it was time to give single mothers a chance to be a provider for both themselves as well as their kids. By putting their heads together, they have developed a successful business model that accomplishes these goals.
On May 13, CBS news reported a story on a company known as American Mojo (moms and jobs), which is a for-profit company dedicated specifically to offering employment to single mothers.
23-year-old Tameira Lanier is one of Mojo’s most recent employees. Before being hired by the company, she was without work for 3 years, raising a 2 and 5 year-old boy on her own.
"It was terrible for me. I had to go into a shelter and everything,” remarked Tameira as she discussed her story with CBS.
According to the CBS report, it was launched last year and offers fabric lines including gloves and zip jackets as well as some jewelry.
Mojo’s website provides an extensive history into the founding and mission of the company. Tom Aley has a history of investing and managing software and internet companies. During this time, he worked with other business entrepreneurs to start up The Jericho Road Project, which seeks skilled volunteers and matches them with industries that seek people with the talent they need from their candidates. In its heyday, the group helped with a mitten drive to serve homeless children in Boston. Tom believed the concept could be taken a step further by starting a company that would be focused on providing essential items to people in poverty year-round. He approached his brother, Darr, with the concept as the two had started a business intelligence company in 2005. It was sold in 2008 and become the brothers’ first move to launch the Mojo company. Their sister, Cara Aley, came aboard with Tom and Darr as its President, running the stitching, management, and life skills training programs. She was raised by a single mother and was no stranger to the hardships endured by women who are left to care for their kids on their own.
The CBS news article indicates the company has built a steady clientele, including sales of blankets to the Dave Matthews band and fleece jackets to large companies like Morgan and Stanley. They have also provided logo wear to various university campuses.
Mojo’s success has enabled the company to pay its employees over $10 an hour. In addition, it provides helpful career training and health care for its employees. The best part of all is that the cost of child care is fully covered by the company. Currently, the company has 23 employees, but plans are in the works to expand it to employ more people and offer the program in other states.
“We're trying to solve a social problem with a for-profit answer,” said Tom in his CBS interview.
As for Tameira, she is still enjoying her life and her new career. She also has dreams to start up her own fashion designs in the future.
I grew up with a sister three years older than me. By age 12, my younger brother was born. It was not up until my early college years when I began to understand the work and time my parents had to put in to handling all three of us. We weren’t trouble makers by any stretch of the imagination, but we had a lot of growing up to do as any child does. We had to be taken to school, helped with our homework, taught how to do our chores, and have our books and clothes paid for until we were old enough to work on our own. This list is certainly not inclusive of everything they had to do, but it was this kind of work that made me appreciate my parents for what they did for us. One of them had a job of his or her own, payments to make, and obligations to fulfill while the other attended to the daily child raising duties. Oh yes, the roles got switched around more often than not.
Now imagine a mother doing double duty on her own. It doesn’t leave a lot of time for herself. With the time she spends feeding her kids, taking them to the doctor, or cleaning their clothes, it leaves her virtually no time to find the steady job she needs to acquire all these provisions. Children of single parents like those under Coach Penny Hardaway (see story here) will often be forced to live in deplorable home conditions and are more likely to be involved with gangs. The welfare state and public assistant programs can only go so far to help mothers survive their tough times.
Even if a mother does manage to scrap just enough to help her children, her journey alone can become an emotional burden. How can she find true happiness for herself when she’s dealing with kids who are crying from the pains of sickness and hunger? How can she find time to enjoy the things in life she used to like painting or writing? And what kind of emotional turmoil will her kids go through when she has to sit down and explain to them why they no longer have a daddy?
Despite all these burdensome questions, they lead to one direction: no matter what, she has do everything she can to make sure her kids have the best life possible! They are the number one priority in her life.
Now we see that priority can at least to some degree be fulfilled with the help of Mojo. Single mothers finally have a means to get their foot in the door that will hopefully lead them to a better life. Not only are they learning skills that they can build on to help them move up in their career goals, but they also have the means to give their kids a healthy and happy life. The fact that the job covers all the costs of a child’s care is a major benefit. It gives these mothers a chance to provide for the critical needs of their children. While the pay and benefits may not earn them a mansion on Malibu Beach, it will at the very least greatly eliminate the stress of choices that single mothers are forced to make when it comes to choosing between feeding their children or having enough gas money to take them to school.
Of course, there’s more that a mother can do with this job besides finding a better life for her kids. She can focus on taking care of herself. The well-being of her children is important. However, if something were to happen to her or she become so overwhelmed with stress that she couldn’t function anymore, then where would that leave her kids? Most important of all, the kids will grow up with continued love from their mother. They will be part of a happy family with happy memories and admire all that their mother has done for them.
They will grow up to be the kids that will make their mother proud…and she’ll know right then and there that she did not fail them.