Being a single parent means handling it all for themselves and their children, as well as household and finances. Soon after she divorced with two children, Debra Rieder came to know these struggles firsthand and became equally determined to provide help to a growing group of people trying to raise their children while still making ends meet.
Rieder decided to start a nonprofit group called Assistance for Single Parents (AFSP) to help assist and empower working single parent families in St. Charles Parish. Rieder got the group off the ground with a $10,000 grant from Entergy’s Waterford 3 received last year, which she said would help single parents by providing guidance with finances, better employment opportunities, budgeting and legal workshops, as well as emotional healing and stability, and peer support networking or co-parenting concerns.
“We just want to end generational poverty,” Rieder said. “We want to try to help people become more self-reliant and more viable citizens.”
In the 1-1/2 years since she started organizing and then making this effort happen, the group’s executive director has successfully held a uniform giveaway, flea market and comedy fundraiser.
Raising $7,000 for the group, Rieder said comedy fundraiser held on March 19 did exactly what she wanted it to do by creating interest, marketing the program and informing the public about what Assistance for Single Parents’ mission. Wingzzz-N-Thingzzz Sports Grill provided the food. Other comedy show sponsors include: ADVOCARE – Brad and Christie Taliancich; Angellie Hair Salon; Body Art; Buckwalter Insurance Group; CAMS Auto; Coca Cola; Decor on a Dime; DJ Troy Stumpf; Ericksen, Krentel & Laporte; Faith in the Music; Farm Bureau – Will Sirmon; Flawless Bride – Heather Burnam; Foundation Insurance Group; Lance and Mary Marino; Limousine Livery; Mayeux’s AC & Heat LLC; Picture Me Crazy; Rochelle Champagne Fahrig Attorney at Law; Romero Brothers Construction; Team Tasha- Tasha Bourgeois; The Lirette Family; The Simon Family; Tropical Fish Pet Supply; Wingzzz-N-Thingzzz, and Winn Dixie.
“We just wanted to do something different,” she said. “I hate asking people for money, but we offered something – dinner and entertainment.”
Rieder recognized the opportunity.
“People are always looking for something to do – single or not single,” she said about brainstorming a fundraiser that would work. “I definitely think the fundraiser created more awareness.”
And it did.
After expenses, it generated $7,000, which she said will go directly toward several programs scheduled or in the works to aid single parents.
Rider said Tasha Bourgeois came up with the comedy show idea.
“Just like the shopping spree, I wanted something big, different and out of the box,” Bourgeois said about a comedy fundraiser. “Something that would catch anyone’s attention, everyone likes a good laugh, LOL, why not… It was a hit for all ages. It was good, clean fun and a great night of laughter for a great cause.”
She said the event went 100 times better than expected.
“This was only my third fundraiser that I hosted, and to be honest, I was kinda nervous,” Bourgeois said. “It was a pretty big event. We had so many people involved, so many activities, and expenses that I just hoped and prayed that it would all work out. When selling tickets to an event, you never know what you’re gonna get. No one commits right away. A few days before and the day of the event, ticket sales went wild.”
Impressed with the organization’s efforts to offer a hand up, not a hand out, Bourgeois wanted to help.
Rieder affirmed their efforts are focused on a hand up.
She organized a flea market last year that let clients sell old items to raise money for home costs
“Reboot Your Power: Power Up For Successful Employment” is scheduled 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 23 at the St. Charles United Methodist Church. St. John United Way and United Way of St. Charles are assisting with the program with a grant.
What Rieder also determined is single parents’ struggles are relatively unknown, which is why the group also seeks to create awareness with the general public and encouraging family and friends to lend a helping hand if they can.
“If you have a single parent who lives next door, help them,” she said. “How difficult is it to reach out and help someone. How many boys of single parents need someone to throw them a ball?”
If any individual or company is interested in partnering with or making a donation to AFSP, please call Debra Rieder at (985) 233-1173.