Help for single parents: Assistance group expands into St. John

Published 12:12 am Wednesday, April 20, 2016

LAPLACE — Jodie Guice is a single mother of two with one child still in school.

Assistance for Single Parents has helped Guice and her family in a number of ways.

“I first heard about them through my church around the time they started,” Guice said. “It’s given me a lot of information regarding legal issues, it lets me earn a little extra money through the garage sale they have, and my daughter has gotten things from the school uniform drive. (Assistance For Single Parents) also filled me with a lot of information as to where to go in the community to get help.”

The mission of Assistance For Single Parents is to assist and empower working single-parent families caught in the government gap of the “working poor” and “under-employed” by providing support services, fellowship and resources.

“An organization like this is important because there is no organization out there geared towards helping single parents,” Guice said. “Personally, I fall right in the middle where I make too much money to get help because of the cutoff for the poverty line.”

Guice said the non-profit provides a range of services, adding, “it’s awesome” to know there are others out there like her.

Debra Rieder, who started the organization, is a single parent.

“She knows where we’re coming from,” Guice said. “She knows what we’re looking for, and she has done all of the research to help us ask better questions to different organizations.”

Guice is thrilled the St. Charles Parish-based organization is branching out to help single parents in St. John the Baptist Parish.

“It can help more single parents out there that need help just like us,” she said. “The bigger it is, the more people it can reach and help. Assistance for Single Parents is open to all single parents. They are there to help with any questions, concerns, problems or anything that we need.”

Rieder, who started the organization in 2014, said the organization’s passion and primary focus is the health and well being of children of single parents. However, in order to assist the children, she feels you have to first assist, empower and support their parents.

“We’re trying to close that governmental gap of people who are working really hard, doing all that they can to make ends meet but are still struggling,” Rieder said. “Our services are open to any single parent; it just depends on what they need. Many times a single parent just needs support.”

Rieder said the organization provides support and resources she wished she had known about when she was adjusting to being a single parent.

The group can be found on Facebook at “Assistance For Single Parents.”

Rieder said they may post simple updates like “IHOP is giving away free pancakes” or information about new offerings

“For some single parents that’s huge because they get to take their kids out to dinner or breakfast,” she said. “We also post information about different forms of inexpensive entertainment. We also post about giveaways and things like that.”

A recent grant from the St. John United Way has allowed Assistance for Single Parents to offer services to single parents in St. John Parish.

St. John single parents can participate in the “Reboot Your Power, Power Up For Successful Employment” seminar. The workshop runs from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at 1905 Ormond Blvd. in Destrehan.

Assistance for Single Parents has partnered with the Louisiana Workforce Commission, St. Charles Parish Department of Community Services and St. Charles Parish Adult Education program to provide valuable information on helping people find a job.

The workshop will help parents with resume writing, interview skills, how to ask for a raise and how to negotiate salary.

“We are also going to touch on the emotional or the human side of the stress that single parents go through,” Rieder said.

All registered participants receive a refurbished computer to take home and work attire while supplies last. To receive the giveaways, attendees must stay for the whole seminar.

Those interested can register at

Single parents in St. John can also take advantage of a June 25 uniform drive.

“What we try to do is give every registered child of a single parent a brand new school uniform, top and bottom,” Rieder said.

“We also collect gently used uniforms from the Parish and ask people to drop off any gently used uniforms, accessories, lunch kits that they have. We collect them and distribute them.

“We hope that every child gets to leave with a brand new uniform and or one or two gently used ones.”

Rieder is working on locations for drops offs in St. John Parish and advises residents to look out for the green donation bins.

For more information, call 985-233-1173.