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HomeCommunity50 Mothers Recognized at "Mothers Matter Empowerment Event"

50 Mothers Recognized at “Mothers Matter Empowerment Event”

The inaugural “Mothers Matter Empowerment Event” (Photo courtesy DOJ)

Fifty exceptional mothers were recognized for their unwavering dedication and resilience during the inaugural “Mothers Matter Empowerment Event” initiated by the Access and Visitation Program of the Paternity and Child Support Division held in collaboration with six partner agencies, the V.I. Justice Department announced.

The interactive event featured motivational speakers, giveaways, childcare, and other activities aimed at inspiring and uplifting attendees. In addition, representatives from collaborating organizations, including the UVI Center for Excellence in Leadership and Learning (UVI CELL), Family Resource Center, Inc., Law Enforcement Planning Commission, the V.I. Juvenile Justice State Advisory Group Board, the Virgin Islands Police Department, the V.I. Department of Human Services-The Office of Child Care and Regulatory Services, and Inspire V.I. LLC, were present to offer support and resources to participants, according to the press release.

From left, Dana Todman & Janice Thomas-DOJ, PCSD AVP coordinators, Velvyn Samuel-Warren- OCCRS DHS quality improvement specialists, Anya Stuart, FRC executive director and Jeanette John Baptiste, Moleto A. Smith Jr. -LEPC director, Ian S.A. Clement-DOJ Deputy AG, Sharon Jackson-McDonald- DOJ, PCSD AVP administrator, Sandra Goomansingh-DOJ media relations director, Tishma Tucker-Lans, OCCRS DHS administrator, Cira Burke-DHS TANF/JOBS V.I. director, Jacqueline Freeman-LEPC OJJDP juvenile justice specialist, Susan Darrow-Magras-UVI CELL director (Photo courtesy DOJ)

Ian S.A. Clement, V.I. Department of Justice Deputy Attorney General, gave brief remarks. “We acknowledge the distinct hurdles that mothers, especially single mothers, encounter while raising their children. Our collaboration with various organizations in the U.S. Virgin Islands reflects our commitment to sharing programs and resources geared towards bolstering mothers and fortifying families,” he said.

From left, Moleto A. Smith Jr. -LEPC director, Sharon Jackson-McDonald-DOJ, PCSD AVP administrator and Ian S.A. Clement-DOJ Deputy AG (Photo courtesy DOJ)

The event sought to establish a network of support for mothers facing various challenges,
specifically those dealing with child support cases. By uniting mothers and fostering positive communication with non-custodial fathers, the goal was to enhance parental engagement and foster stronger relationships for the well-being of the children involved, the release stated.

“Through this event, we aimed to provide a platform for self-empowerment, self-improvement, and self-efficacy while also fostering positive co-parenting relationships for the well-being of all. I would like to express heartfelt thanks to the DOJ Family and all the collaborating agencies, authors, and the business community. Your commitment to the mothers in our community is not overlooked in the role that they play in their children’s lives,” said Sharon Jackson-McDonald, Access & Visitation Program administrator.

“We offer you encouragement and support. Motherhood is a profound journey, whether chosen or unexpected. Thank you for being here today; you are strong and incredible,” said Susan Darrow-Magras, director of the UVI Center for Excellence in Leadership and Learning.

Riisa Ortiz, participant in Mothers Matter Empowerment Event (Photo courtesy DOJ)

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the need for such initiatives is evident, with nearly 80 percent of single-parent families headed by single mothers and a third living in poverty. Furthermore, the Journal of Child Health Care highlights the detrimental effects of parental separation on children’s development and behavior, emphasizing the importance of fostering positive co-parenting relationships.

The keynote speaker, Carol O’Bryan Henneman, a retired educator, poet, and historian from the Virgin Islands, shared her personal journey of overcoming struggles and delivered an uplifting and spiritual message. “There’s no guarantee of life being fair; it’s how you navigate it that truly matters,” she remarked.

From left, Anya Stuart, FRC executive director and Dana Todman DOJ, PCSD AVP coordinator (Photo courtesy DOJ)

Guest speaker Whitney George emphasized the importance of self-care for empowered
motherhood, highlighting that it goes beyond indulgent activities like bubble baths and spa days. She stressed that self-care involves nurturing oneself to better care for one’s children.

“Events like this are essential for our community, especially for the many young parents who need support. We must continue to work closely together, do whatever it takes, and go the extra mile to ensure our communities are well cared for,” said Anya Stuart, executive director of the Family Resource Center, Inc.

To view Sharon Jackson-McDonald’s presentation, click here.

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