In 1970, 90% of all children under eighteen years of age lived in homes with two parents. In 2006, only 70% of children under eighteen years of age lived with two parents. Thus, the number of children living with one parent tripled from 8.5 million in 1970 to 20.6 million 2006. Clearly, single-parent families have become much more common across the United States. In highly urban areas, single parents lead a complex and difficult life. Concerns about crime, economic pressures, time demands, and the busy pace of life make single parenting a stressful challenge.
Single Parents Raising Kids, or SPARK, is an association of single parents living in Montgomery County in the State of Maryland in the United States. SPARK also covers single parents in areas near Montgomery County and Maryland.
SPARK was formed in 1987 by nine people who have successfully met the challenges of life as single parents. The founders’ goal was to give single parents the tools they need to deal with the stressful issues they already had faced and overcome.
Single Parents Raising Kids is a non-governmental organization whose mission is to build a community where single parents in the area can interact, build new friendships, and share their experiences.
SPARK provides a forum where single parents in Maryland can support each other, share their the lessons they’ve learned through their common experiences, and help members learn from their successes and their mistakes.
SPARK fulfills its mission by encouraging active participation of its members in a balanced program that fosters strong, happy families. The group offers social and educational opportunities for each member.
SPARK is an active organization that publishes a calendar of events each month to provide informal, friendly social gatherings where members can relax and enjoy building relationships with others who share their life experience.
Examples of such activities include concerts, movies, dinners, and classes that help members get to know each other and interact in comfortable, enjoyable surroundings.
SPARK Management and Operation
Not-for-profit SPARK exists solely to fulfill its advocacy role for and commitments to single parents. It is not involved in, nor does it support, any other causes or organizations.
SPARK exists as a social support group. It does not generate income for its founders, leaders, or members. Its only compensation is the satisfaction of knowing that it creates the opportunity for support, social interaction, and sharing of hard-earned wisdom for its single parent members.
SPARK is directed and operated by volunteers. Operating expenses are funded entirely through voluntary contributions from and raised by its single parent members.
Based in Maryland and covering nearby states, SPARK is open to all single parents with children under eighteen years of age, whether or not the parent has legal custody of the child or children.
The Single Parents Raising Kids organization’s purpose is to give members practical, constructive ideas for resolving social, emotional, and monetary problems that come with single parenthood. SPARK provides social situations where single parents know they are not alone. With this in mind, SPARK gives single parents opportunities for:
• Participation with other single parents in wholesome and fun activities.
• Learning and generating more knowledge about problems and solutions for single parents.
• Sharing what they have learned that could benefit other single parents.
Reflections on Single Parenting
Today’s single parents are more fortunate than those in the past generations. The days when single parents were ostracized or looked down by the society have passed. Today, single parenthood doesn’t carry the stigma and social burden associated in the old days with a failing marriage or pregnancy out of wedlock.
The single parents of today are lucky to have available to them the opportunity to enjoy the support and issue-oriented groups and activities to help them out meet the burdens of raising children alone.
Organizations like SPARK could have helped many a single parent in the past. But it’s better late than never. Thank God, single parents can now get support from SPARK.
Having enjoyed success in making life better for single parents in the area, SPARK hopes the approach will expand from Maryland to the rest of the world.
To learn more about the organization or get information on events, contact SPARK headquarters at SPARK Incorporated, PO Box 288, Rockville, Maryland 20848.