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Rebecca Ball was a 22-year-old single mom when she started attending the Embracing Single Moms Support Group in Deer Lake.
Her oldest son, Jesse Ball, was a baby and she had drifted away from the friends she’d had.
“I didn’t know any other people my age with children,” she said.
She knew the group’s founder Paula (Dinney) Brace, who encouraged her to join.
It didn’t take long for Ball to realize just how beneficial the group was.
“It’s one of those things where you establish a friend system and a support system,” she said.
“You go in and talk to other mothers, you’d vent, I guess. You know, you’d have a few laughs, you’d have a few cries.
The group goes beyond just providing that support system. It plans activities for the moms and their children, brings in guest speakers, holds clothing drives and provides school supplies.
Child care is provided at the meetings, so the moms get a bit of time to themselves, and the women don’t have to worry if they don’t have a ride.
It’s all those things combined that keeps Ball involved, even though she’s no longer a single mom and is soon to be married.
She said the connections she’s made through the group are lasting.
“You keep that established friendship with these people. Whether or not they continue to go to group, you still have a friend.”
Brace not only founded the group, she continues to lead it, even though her two children are now adults. Like many who’ve joined the group over the years she’s also transitioned from single mom to married woman.
She said all the moms are encouraged to remain a part of the group even if their situation in life changes.
Brace first started the group 11 years ago when her son and daughter were in their teens.
“Financially, it was really hard,” she said of her life as a single mom.
There were no programs back then to help with funding when her children wanted to join things like hockey and so they didn’t get involved with sports and other activities. They couldn’t do the same things that their friends did.
Being the only parent was often difficult.
“I felt I had to be the good and the bad all rolled up into one.”
Brace knew the struggles she faced, and knew there were more women in the community like her and she wanted to do something to help.
And that’s kind of how the group started.
It used to run out of her church’s, Emmanuel Pentecostal, old parsonage, but eventually space became an issue and the group fizzled.
But she knew the struggles still existed for single moms.
Then, three years ago while at a women’s retreat, Brace and another woman felt God spoke to them and that they needed to restart the group. It was something her church supported.
While the group meets at the church it is non-denominational. The church does help with sponsorship of the group and it also receives funding through the local Shoppers Drug Mart Love You, Women’s Health Program. The store recently presented the group with almost $4,000.
There are about 30 women registered with the group, including some from Corner Brook and Pasadena.
For Brace, it has become her way of giving back, her ministry she calls it, as the group focuses on the women’s physical, emotional and spiritual health.
And she has no plans of giving it up.
“My heart and soul is in this group.”