In honor of National Single Parent Day, I am featuring individuals who have helped improve the lives of single parents or have achieved recognition for their accomplishments while parenting alone.
Joseph Kuhio Lewis has dedicated his life to raising his two son and daughter as a single father while serving native Hawaiians. Through his work as president of the Kapolei Community Development Corp., Joseph has been working to advance the mission of the Kapolei Heritage Center. The purchase of a swath of land allowed the center to begin achieving its plan of providing a “family learning center, business incubator and community hub” for the several native Hawaiian communities. His other accomplishments include being a member and past president of King Kamehameha Hawaiian Civic Club and board member for the Ke Ola Mamo Native Hawaiian Health Care System. By strengthening and empowering his community, Joseph is creating a world where future generations can thrive.
Regina Clark will never know the significance of her contribution, but drivers in Washington state might. Regina served in Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom in the US Navy. Her duties in Iraq included inspecting women and children for explosives. In 2005, Regina was killed when an IED hit her vehicle during an attack in Fallujah, Iraq. Regina was a single mother to her son; during her deployments, Regina’s mother, Melitta Fountain, cared for him. Before she left in 2003 for what became her final deployment, her son was fearful that she may not return. Regina was a talented softball player and wrangled a softball scholarship when she attended college. Petitioners are hoping to honor her service and her death as the first Lewis County resident to be killed in Iraq by designating the bridge over the Skookumchuck River on state Route 20 as the Regina Clark Memorial Bridge.
On March 20, the state of Georgia recognized and celebrated Mothers Raising Sons Day. This holiday emerged from the accomplishments of Mothers Raising Sons Inc., a nonprofit founded by Lisa Norwood in 1999. She started this organization as a single mother of three sons who was raising them without family support in the metro Atlanta area. As a supervisor in the Juvenile Court System, Lisa noted that a disproportionately large number of offenders came from single-mother households and realized an organization was needed to support these families. Her nonprofit’s work has included support groups for women raising boys, one-on-one parenting classes, all-boy summer camps, tutoring services and family activities. Since 1999, the organization has served more than 1,200 people in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. The group’s motto is simple: “A mother cannot be a father or a positive male role model to her son[s], but she tries to play the role!”
Clifford Joseph “T.I.” Harris Jr., a Grammy award-winning rapper, actor, entrepreneur and activist, has been actively involved in helping the residents of Georgia. Among his philanthropic works are his donations to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston and his work to “revitalize the Center Hill neighborhood through his real estate venture, Buy Back the Block,” which is creating mixed-use housing and developing a movie theater, bowling alley and laser tag arena in the community. He also provided scholarships for single-parent families at the Boys and Girls Clubs. T.I. was raised by his grandparents in Georgia and visited his father, who lived in New York.
Tommy Wayne Clayton was a single parent to his son and a much beloved mayor of the Texas city of Springtown before his death at the age of 56 in July 2018. He served in the US Air Force and after an honorable discharge earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in public administration and urban development. His commitment to public service began in 1999 when he was elected to the Springtown City Council. Among his professional accomplishments were bringing “high-speed Internet service to the city,” improving “access to ambulance services” and leading “the effort to have Springtown Tabernacle recognized as a state historic site.”
I wish to extend my warmest appreciation for the accomplishments and contributions of these great men and women.
Thank you for showing us that single parents are incredible people and thank you for embracing the greatness of single parents and their children.
On Thursdays, I will be sharing a blog about a day in the actual life of a single parent. Every fourth Thursday, instead of a personal post, I will put together one where I assemble news on and about single parents nationally and globally.
I would love to hear from you! Feel free to send any comments and questions to me at email@example.com. I am also on Twitter @parentsonurown and can be found by searching #singleparentandstrong.