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Single parent support comes up short: Assistance For Single Parents ending operations this month

LAPLACE — A gently used school uniform giveaway starts Sunday at Celebration Church on U.S. 51 in LaPlace and continues through Aug. 19, taking place after each of the church’s three Sunday services while supplies last.

The school drive, cosponsored by Assistance For Single Parents, marks one of the group’s last efforts.

Executive Director Debra Rieder said the organization would no longer offer services effective July 15, adding the announcement comes with “great sadness.”

“Our organization was unable to secure the funding to sustain itself and, therefore, made the difficult decision to no longer offer services,” Rieder said. “Over the past four years Assistance For Single Parents has supported and assisted more than 1,300 single parents and children. It was through your kindness and donations that our organization was able to focus on the needs of working single parent families by providing them with supportive services, programs and resource referrals.”

Sabrina Jordan stands with her children next to a computer she received as part of an Assistance for Single Parents event.

Rieder said Assistance For Single Parents inspired those in need by giving them the tools to keep moving forward in a positive direction.

“We have cried together, laughed together and fostered lasting relationships with our single parents,” she said.

The mission of Assistance For Single Parents was 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.

During a past L’OBSERVATEUR profile of the organization, local single mother of two Jodie Guice described AFSP’s efforts are vital because “no organization out there is geared towards helping single parents.”

Kristen Barney and Shelley Keller work through a mock interview during an AFSP workshop.

“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. “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.”

After its launch, the St. Charles Parish-based organization branched out to help single parents in St. John the Baptist Parish. 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 felt you had 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 in 2016.

Assistance for Single Parents volunteers help local parents and students with school clothes.

The group posted simple social media updates for free restaurant giveaways, new store offerings and forms of inexpensive entertainment.

They worked with St. John United Way, Louisiana Workforce Commission, St. Charles Parish Department of Community Services, St. Charles Parish Adult Education program and others to host free workshops and seminars to help people find a job, write a resume, interview well, ask for a raise and negotiate a salary.