Our Moms - Our Stories

Our Mission

Helping Hands for Single Moms is a community-based nonprofit that assists impoverished single mom families while the moms are pursuing a college education and financial independence.

Our 13-Year Community Impact

• 450 -plus single mom families served since 2002
• 74% of our full scholarship clients have graduated or are currently enrolled
• 73 single mom families currently receive benefits
• 3.2 cumulative average GPA achieved by Helping Hands moms since 2007
• $44,600 – the starting average career salary of Helping Hands graduates
• $2.75 million in serves and financial aid provided to hundreds of single mom college student families since 2002

2015-community-impactThanks to the early support of community partners and donors, Helping Hands for Single Moms Tucson (HHT) has been able to successfully launch in the Tucson community, establish partnerships with local businesses, foundations and service providers and position itself for future growth. Because of donors like you, we have been able to make a significant impact in the lives of single mothers in Pima county as summarized in our program update.

Thank you for ongoing support and confidence in Helping Hands for Single Moms Tucson.

Our Story

The dream to assist low-income single moms with obtaining a college education was born in a most unusual way.   In 2001, Chris Coffman was in his twentieth year of serving as a minister.  Mr. Coffman was active in a local ministerial alliance when the group decided to become more engaged in serving the needs of the local community.  It was decided that each pastor would be assigned an area to drive and look for potential needs.

It was on a warm spring morning when Mr. Coffman set out with a quick prayer.  He hadn’t driven far when he was startled by a young boy, approximately 5 years old, walking alone on the sidewalk of a busy street.  Mr. Coffman pulled alongside him and told the boy to meet him at the next corner and that the boy could not be out alone.  A woman in a passing car also pulled in.  Mr. Coffman and the woman, led by the boy, proceeded to walk him home.  When they arrived at an old dilapidated house, they knocked and a young girl – perhaps 10 years old – answered.  Observing the wide-eyed look on her face, Mr. Coffman asked her if this was her brother.  She said yes.  A second question followed “Are you supposed to be watching him?”  “Yes.” As she opened the door to let her brother in, Mr. Coffman asked “Is your mother or father here?”  She answered, “Just my mother lives here and she is asleep.”

They left the boy in his sister’s care and headed back to their vehicles.  Suddenly Mr. Coffman remembered the task he was pursuing before he was interrupted.  He was looking for needs in the community!  Mr. Coffman had no idea where that short drive would take him.  The dream of helping low-income single moms attend college was born in the days following that fortuitous journey.

Manuela’s Story

Manuela Garrido decided it was time to go back to school after her husband of 15 years left her and her three children. He just decided he didn’t want a family life anymore, Manuela said. When he left, he did not go amiably. She recounted how he disabled her van and trashed her home, which led to his arrest and domestic-violence charges. Eventually, she was awarded child support, only he wasn’t paying it. Now his wages are garnished, and she receives the monthly help of $583, but she said he’s on probation at his work, so she doesn’t know how long the assistance will last.

His absence left her the task of figuring out, in a hurry, how she was going to pay her bills and take care of her children. One child with asthma-related health problems and no family nearby to help, she said going back to school seemed like a smart idea.

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Helping Hands for Single Moms is a community based nonprofit that is led by people of faith.  Our task is to serve single mom college student families.  We deliver community based services and the beliefs – or absence of belief – of clients are fully respected.   Today Mr. Coffman is the Executive Director of Helping Hands for Single Moms.

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