The youngest of four girls growing up, Starlet Smith ’17 was raised by a single mother who—despite struggles—got through college and held down a full-time job.

Supporting Single Mothers

In Focus
Business &

By Leah Grout Garris


FiredUp for Single Moms

A networking group that unites and inspires single parents by hosting free educational events and offering volunteer opportunities in the community to uplift single parents and their families.

Find out more on Facebook.

As a church-goer, IT professional at UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s, and community leader, Starlet Smith ’17 now finds herself in the same situation as her mother. “My sisters, my mom, and my best friend all have histories of being single parents,” she says. “It’s a foundation of who I am.”

As a single mother, Smith says the biggest opportunity she faces is trying to independently create the best life possible for herself and her son Christopher, age 8. “Everything I am is because of him. He’s my ambition to work hard. Before I had him, nothing really mattered. After I had him, I wanted to be the best person I could be.”

After Christopher was born, she earned her associate degree, then continued on to Mount Mercy where she earned a bachelor’s degree in business.

“I am the true definition of a single mother,” says Smith. “I haven’t been away from my son for more than two overnights. When I go out of town, he’s with me. In nearly everything I do, my son is there.” For example, she and Christopher attend yoga classes together on Saturdays and church services on Sundays.

As Smith spent time with the other single mothers in her life, they started sharing stories and swapping ideas. They were all thankful for the food and housing resources available to single mothers in the area, but something was missing: support and advice on becoming better mothers.

“I didn’t want to be on food stamps forever,” says Smith. “I wondered what resources were out there to help me become self-sufficient. What is out there to inspire single moms and tell them, ‘You can do this! You can be better than what you are!’? There was nothing out there for that.”

So Smith set out to create that resource herself. In August 2017, FiredUp for Single Moms was officially announced. As a networking and support group, its mission is to inspire and help single mothers build confidence by providing them with valuable, helpful information every month on topics like stress management, finances, insurance, and other fundamental life skills.

Committee members either use their own resources to bring in professional experts and speakers, or they receive donations from community members and organizations. FiredUp for Single Moms also facilitates regular volunteer opportunities at places like local hospitals or the Ronald McDonald House for single mothers and their children.

“I wondered what resources were out there to help me become self-sufficient,” says Starlet Smith ’17. “What is out there to inspire single moms and tell them, ‘You can do this! You can be better than what you are!’?”

When local single mothers give birth in the Cedar Rapids area, they also receive Smith’s contact information to use whenever they need resources or mentoring.

“We are beginning to fill the void of what was missing here,” Smith says. In fact, she’s hearing from single mothers across the United States who are asking how they can get involved, or whether local FiredUp for Single Moms chapters can be formed in other places.

“We keep thinking it’s a small group, but it’s becoming a lot bigger than how we envisioned it,” she says. “I’m thankful for the opportunity to help other single moms better themselves and the lives of their children.” ■