As a mother of eight, Alfreda Flowers made sure that family dinners were a regular event. “We had a table for the big kids, and a table for the little kids so we could all fit,” she said. Now as founder and executive director of Family Values for Life, she is dedicated to bringing that same sense of connectedness to other families across the East Metro. “We are trying to introduce those values that are conducive to sitting down and sharing a meal together,” she said.
In 2016, with support from The Saint Paul Foundation, F. R. Bigelow Foundation and Mardag Foundation, Family Values for Life expanded its Jump Start to the New You program for 60 local mothers, a two-year series of weekly professional workshops, covering goal setting, financial literacy, nutrition, image, personal development and more. Each Wednesday night from September to May, mothers and their children gather for a family-style meal. The women then attend workshops designed to help them advance their lives and careers while their children receive homework help.
“We hear from the women, ‘This is my new sisterhood,’” said Flowers, who is known as Mother Flowers to the group. “All of them are working to make positive changes in their lives.” Mothers who thrive in the program pay it forward by becoming trained mentors to other moms.
For many, the program has been a turning point in their lives. One participant wrote, “Since coming here I was able to take back my life, my dignity, my pride, and my sense of my self-worth. I have been able to fully control what goes on in my life as well as my child's life. … My family members love the new person I am becoming due to this program. … I would never imagine that I would have so many beautiful strong women and sisters by my side to help me get through my trials and tribulations.”
Continuing its holistic approach, Family Values for Life recently launched a work-readiness pilot program for five Jump Start to the New You participants, and will roll out the program on a larger platform later this year.