Meet Brandi, Our Founder's Story.
Let me introduce myself. My name is Brandi Shephard, I was born and raised on the west side of Akron, Ohio in a single-parent household. My mother brought up four children; I have two older sisters and one younger brother.
At the tender age of five, my father went to prison for 26 years putting a major financial and emotional strain on our family. Growing up I remember feeling sad and embarrassed seeing others with their fathers while mine was not around. So, I began seeking the love and attention of a father in all of the wrong places.
At the age of 18, I became a mother. At the time, I truly thought that having a child at a young age was normal. Later, I discovered that I was just repeating a generational cycle and following a trend. My mother was a teenage parent as were both of my sisters and a few girls at my high school.
After completing high school I went to dental assisting school where I received a dental certification. After working as an assistant for a year, I realized that taking care of my daughter without the help of welfare was impossible. I knew I had to do something to give my baby a better life.
For me, that meant going back to school. So I went back and pursued a career as a Dental Hygienist. Through losing my mother to cancer, little to no money, two kids, a part-time job, and homelessness I completed my associate degree as a Registered Dental Hygienist. This career allowed me to provide for my children without depending on the system.
I went on Facebook Live to talk about my experience and I was overwhelmed by the responses I received from other single parents. It was then that I discovered my passion. As a result, I started an organization, known as Single Parent Advancement~ SPA. This organization is dedicated to helping single parents in the area of Financial Literacy, Self-Awareness, Career/Education, and Health/Fitness!
Currently, I’m still working as a Registered Dental Hygienist. I have four wonderful children and an amazing husband, Lamar Shephard.
Single Parent Advancement (SPA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating, motivating, and supporting Single Parents in the areas of financial literacy, self-awareness, career & education, and health & wellness.
According to the 2019 Census Bureau, there are currently 24 million U.S. children under the age of 18 living with Single Parents including 15 million living with Single Mothers, 5 million living with Single Fathers, and the remaining 4 million living with cohabiting parents. Unfortunately, 63% of all these children are living in poverty with the number of Single Parent households having increased by 50% within the last 50 years.
Research (The Pew Research Center) shows that Single Parents are more likely to develop serious mental health conditions such as depression. This may be caused by dealing with daily issues such as: finding reliable and affordable childcare, working multiple jobs to make ends meet, dealing with children’s behavioral problems, balancing time with work and children’s activities, managing a healthy relationship with another parent, coping with the loss of the other parent, divorce and simply trying to stay mentally and emotionally positive.
Children that are raised in Single Parent homes are also at risk: they are 56% more likely to develop a mental health illness than a child who is raised in a two-Parent home. Also, these children are at a higher risk for doing poorly in school, becoming gang-affiliated, drug usage, being bullied, and teenage pregnancy.
Single Parent Advancement positively confronts these statistics by offering programming that seeks to advance and enlighten single parents. Below are some resources that can help during this journey.
Gabrielle M. Daniel
Karla McDay, MSW, LISW-S
Minority Behavioral Health Group
Carlotta Pace LSW, MSW
12 East Exchange
Akron, OH 44308
1485 S. Hawkins Ave
Akron, Ohio 44320
Attorney and Counselor at Law
Broker/Owner of Eberhardt Realty and Management
HEALTH & WELLNESS
Better Body Industries
FB: Jake L