Single Mom Launches 'Boys to Men' Workshop to Help Other Single Moms Teach Their Sons Life Skills
An Indiana mom who "faced challenges" while raising her son on her own is now doing her part to help other single mothers as their sons begin transitioning into adulthood.
Dionne Brown tells PEOPLE she founded the nonprofit organization Single Parent Connection Inc. in 2018 as a way to help other struggling single parents as they raised their children.
"I wanted to be a source of support for struggling families [because] solo parenting isn't easy," says Brown, 43. "We are an organization that wants single parents to know that they don't have to do life alone."
"Our mission is to improve self-sufficiency and strengthen single-parent families through education, empowerment and support," Brown, 43, says of the organization, which is based out of Indianapolis.
As part of that mission, Brown decided to launch a Boys to Men workshop series based on her own experiences raising her son, Jonathan, now 18.
"As a single mother who was raising a young man, I faced challenges when it came to teaching my son what he needs to know as he transitions into adulthood," Brown recalls. "I remember searching YouTube trying to find videos so I could teach him how to tie a necktie because this is something that as a woman I never needed to know."
The workshop, which is scheduled to be held each week in June, is designed for boys between the ages of 12-18.
Each session will focus on specific life skills that Brown believes are traditionally "passed down from a father to their son," such as properly fastening a tie and shaving.
Other basic skills will also be taught, including fishing, barbecuing food, automotive maintenance like changing a flat tire and an oil change, electrical and plumbing safety, preparing for a job interview and understanding self-respect and respect for others.
"Things are definitely different when you are a woman trying to raise a young man," Brown says. "My son didn't have the benefit of being raised in a two-parent home, but I made sure I taught him all that I could to prepare him for success as an adult."
In order to get the workshops off the ground and running, Brown says her organization partnered with the Men's Ministry of The Blended Church in Indianapolis.
"Indianapolis is trending to become a city with one of the highest crime rates per capita," she notes. "This increases the need for programs like this one and for the community to step up and get involved."
So far, Brown says they've had 30 young men enroll in the program — including Jonathan! — and will keep registration open until Saturday or until all spots are filled.
"Jonathan actually helped me with some of the workshop content when I asked him about some of the things he felt he needed to know how to do," she explains. "We are truly excited about this opportunity to make a positive impact in our city and to help single mothers in need of support in raising their boys to become productive and responsible men."
Aside from the Boys to Men program, Brown says her organization also offers a number of resources for single parents, from education scholarships to money management workshops.
"We have a toiletry and necessity assistance program which helps families struggling to provide their basic needs," she notes. "I know many people may not think this program is important, but when a single parent shared with me that she could not afford something as simple as bath tissue, I knew there was a need for it."
As she continues to leave her mark, Brown hopes other parents will become inspired by her story and start making a difference in their respective communities.
RELATED VIDEO: How This Single Mom Went From $10 an Hour To $100,000 a Year
"I started this organization as a struggling single parent who had no idea how I could possibly impact the lives of other families," she says. "All it took was a leap of faith and believing I could accomplish what I thought was impossible."
"To anyone who thinks they can't make a difference: stop doubting your abilities. Change starts with one person and it grows from there," she adds. "If you see someone who is trying to make a difference, ask them how you can help or get involved. Support them, encourage them and help them help others. We are 'the village' and it's up to us to come together to make our communities better."
Those interested in registering for the Boys to Men workshop can do so here.