Single moms have it tough: trying to juggle work, child care, and (usually) carrying the brunt of the parenting solo makes for a very tough life. This people generally accept. But what a lot of people don't realize—especially certain politicians of late—is that single mothers represent two-thirds of the population that are living below the poverty line in America; looked at from another way, a full 27 percent of single mothers live below the poverty line. For the record, being poor doesn't mean you struggle from paycheck to paycheck; being poor means you "lack the resources to meet the basic needs for healthy living and have insufficient income to provide the food, shelter and clothing needed to preserve health." This is why the majority of the population in homeless shelters across the country are women with children.
One of the biggest issues that keeps single moms in the poverty cycle is childcare: it's very hard to find a job that pays enough to offset the cost of childcare, and so many single moms find themselves either caught on an endless hamster wheel of trying to make enough money to pay for the child care (and maybe not having enough for food), or are forced to rely on less-than-ideal childcare, or they must resort to welfare. The actual, living details of these truths don't get discussed much; instead we have rhetoric about women who are "on permanent vacations" (as if welfare could ever be a vacation).
One small company in Massachusetts is attempting to offer a more useful solution to these difficult problems. Clothing manufacturer Mojo is hiring single moms—at wages above minimum wage, no less—and offering them on-the-job training as well as in-house daycare. Hallelujah! Another bonus is that Mojo is a Made-In-America business, which helps support our flagging economy in other ways. They make fleece blankets, vests, jackets, mittens and a few other items, all the kind of stuff many of us have in our households and maybe take for granted. But buying a fleece from Mojo translates into actual benefits for real women: buy one $36 pair of MoJo Mittens for $36, and you've paid for almost an entire day of daycare!
Interestingly, the company's founders and owners, Tome Aley and Darr Aley, are both former employees of Dow Jones, the stock market index that drives the day-to-day on Wall Street. Now that the Aleys have taken on sustainable employment for struggling moms, maybe they can also inspire more of their former colleagues to do the same across the country (instead of hoping their wealth somehow magically trickles down to the nation's poorest).
Mojo is currently based in Lowell, MA, with a manufacturing facility in Oakland, CA, and they have plans to expand to Detroit, MI and New Orleans next year.
The company is a for-profit entity, but they say that 50 percent of their earnings goes to support the wages and benefits for their workers, and that most of the rest goes into expanding the business so it can reach other moms.
This is a great idea, that almost makes me feel warm and fuzzy. Just like a Mojo fleece would. Great gift ideas for the holidays, too! You'll be giving and giving again, to help the mothers in our communities who need it the most.
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