Oct 8, 2013 18:17 Single moms find spotlight Single moms find spotlight Photo provided by Marissa Lambert Photography -- Jennifer Maggio, a former single mom, is the founder and CEO of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. Maggio’s ministry grows from personal experience Chante Dionne Warren| Special to the Advocate Oct. 08, 2013 Comments Since launching her single moms support group in Baton Rouge in 2011, Jennifer Maggio has written three books, started a nationwide single-parent ministry and helped single mothers understand that they, too, deserve spiritual and emotional support in their church communities. “We want to get the single moms fired up, but then you have to have somewhere for them to go to get fired up and plugged in so that they feel there is a place just for them,” said Maggio, who sought to fill that need by founding The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. “It’s been a long and bumpy ride,” Maggio said. “With the infrastructure that has to take place, starting a worldwide ministry is a lot of work.” Maggio, who is the ministry’s CEO, said it’s rewarding work. Through conferences, trainings and workshops, her nonprofit ministry has helped about 20,000 families nationally and internationally connect to local support groups and has served 1,200 churches in nonprofits in 19 countries, educating congregations about how to launch their own single-parent ministries, she said. This month, her ministry is being broadcast on radio station KLOVE, heard on 92.7 FM and other frequencies in south Louisiana. Maggio’s life story is perhaps her best testimony for the single-parent moms and families her ministry targets. Named the Ferriday High School valedictorian in 1995, her academic successes were not enough to prevent the challenges that would soon come. She was kicked out of her family home at age 17 when her father learned she was pregnant, and by age 20, she’d had two children, two miscarriages and was living in a housing project in Ferriday. Desperately searching for peace and stability, Maggio turned to God through prayer and started getting back into church. And though it was hard to find her place in a church environment where single moms were uncommon, she said she kept going and God helped her fill the hole in her heart and lead her toward ministry of her own. Maggio, 36, and her husband, Jeff, are rearing three children — ages 17, 16 and 6 — and she travels the country sharing with single parents the story of her walk through homelessness, poverty, teen pregnancy and sexual abuse. One of her messages: Single mothers are a hugely ignored population in the churches. “Churches don’t want to support having kids outside of marriage or support divorce so I think ministries shied away from it (supporting single mothers),” she said. “We recognize that we have to meet people where they are. Jesus did not expect us to come to him perfect, because we would never be able to come to him perfect. “We want to educate churches on why they need the ministry and once we convince them that they should, we want to give them the resources.” Maggio said single-parent homes in the United States have reached epidemic proportions with about 50 percent of babies being born into them. She seeks to reach the two out of three single mothers who are not active in their community church. “You are dealing with a lot of broken hearts, such as divorce, spouses that have died or a person who thought the father of a child was going to marry them,” she said. “If we don’t have somewhere to get them connected and disciple them, then they are constantly going to fall away from the church because they don’t feel there is a place for them.” Lizzie James, of Baton Rouge, joined Maggio’s ministry group after her son Ethan, now 8, was born. James, then 18, was living in a home for single moms. “When I had my son, there was no niche. There was no place for me,” she said, but that changed when she joined one of Maggio’s support groups. “When the Bible studies started, there were people who could understand and who could relate to what I was going through,” James said. James now considers herself less of an observer and participant and more of a servant for the ministry. For information on times and dates of ministry support programs, visit thelifeofasinglemom.com.