Mothers helping mothers.
That’s the premise of Lincoln County resident Gwendolyn Cobb’s nonprofit organization, set to launch early next month in Lincolnton.
Cobb told the Times-News she felt motivated in August to establish a future local mentoring program, while at the same time she was finishing up a degree in human services technology.
“I felt the tugging on my heartstrings,” she said. “I want them (women) to know that if I can graduate from college at 63 years old, they can also.”
As a faith-filled woman, she said she sought advice through prayer and took notes as God spoke to her.
In December, Cobb officially began work on turning her vision into a reality.
That was the moment Mentoring Moms was born, she said.
Through the organization, officials desire to work with no more than eight single mothers, ages 18 to 40, at a time, meeting with them over a period of eight weeks.
Any single mother living inside or outside Lincoln County who needs physical, financial or spiritual guidance is encouraged to sign up for the program.
Cobb said names and information will remain confidential, and upon completion of the eight-week program, each woman will receive a certificate.
Some of those who lead the program, including Cobb, have personally lived in similar situations as many of the clients they are looking to help.
Cobb hopes Mentoring Moms can “empower” the women as nonprofit leaders “mirror the love of Christ.”
“I have been where they are,” she said. “I know how disheartening it is to feel like you are alone without a strong support system. I want them to know that they can be successful, and they don’t have to compromise themselves and settle for whatever comes along.”
Cobb also understands that many single mothers are forced to rely on government assistance to survive daily life, but she said part of the organization’s goal is to encourage the current generation of women to “break the cycle…of being in the system.”
“There is nothing wrong with being in the system when you need help,” Cobb said, “but…they don’t have to stay there.”
While this is the first nonprofit initiative Cobb has established, she has ample experience working with similar age groups through her church and other community groups.
Women will be chosen on a first come, first served basis through referrals from the Department of Social Services, the Community Service Board of Lincolnton and local churches, nonprofit officials said.
In addition, any woman the courts have ordered to fulfill no more than 24 hours of community service will be allowed to count their weekly mentoring sessions as part of their service.
“The sessions will meet 18 hours of their community service,” Cobb said.
The additional six hours will be fulfilled through other types of community service projects organization officials see fit to complete.
Mentoring Moms’ 13 Board of Directors, whose names Cobb said God gave to her during the planning process, will be on-hand during the mentoring sessions to offer their own gifts and advice, drawing motivation from the Bible.
“Titus 2 teaches us that the older women are to teach the younger women,” Cobb said, “and that is our intent.”
Directors live in Lincoln and neighboring counties and stem from various Christian denominations and career fields, having once worked as educators, business owners, mental health facilitators, ministers and more.
“They are very kind, and their guidance has been phenomenal,” Cobb said.
Mentoring Moms will host a kickoff celebration from 1-3 p.m. April 6 at Providence Missionary Baptist Church, located at 1110 East Pine Street in Lincolnton, for members of the community to meet the organization’s volunteers and board members. The group’s first mentoring session is set for April 9.
“Sometimes people just need someone to believe in them,” Cobb said. “Mentoring Moms will give them hope, empathy and some of the tools needed to climb up and out.”
For more information, contact Gwendolyn Cobb at (704) 477-8360 or firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, the organization is looking to acquire laptops, printers and a fax machine. To donate an item or to make a financial donation, individuals are asked to make checks payable to Providence Baptist Church and write “to be used for Mentoring Moms” in the memo line.