News and Events

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.

Robbie Qualls Memorial Fund Contributors

Our sincere thanks to the following donors for their contributions to Helping Hands for Single Moms in memory of our friend Robbie Qualls:

Phyllis and Gene Banucci

Denny’s, Inc (via John Miller)

Fiesta Bowl Provides a Weekend Staycation for ‘Helping Hands for Single Moms’ Families

group photo

On Friday, June 10, twenty-three single mothers made their way to the Chaparral Suites for a relaxing weekend getaway. Fiesta Bowl Charities made this staycation possible to give these women a much-needed break, as they all manage to work part-time, attend college full-time, manage their homes and raise their children.

Jose addresses the families at the luncheon

Jose addresses the families at the luncheon

It was a fantastic weekend with every amenity needed for a true staycation.  The Fiesta Bowl Charities provided:

  • Welcome bags stuffed with pool toys and other goodies
  • Dinner on Friday night and lunch and dinner on Saturday
  • Board games for the kids to play
  • 12 staff members to assist with the lunch and program on Saturday

Additionally, the families had 2 complimentary breakfasts, all the water / cookies / fruit drinks they could consume and movies by the pool on Friday and Saturday evenings.

The staycation was a dream come true for these families.  Donna called it “a wonderful treat for my children that I could never been able to afford otherwise.”  Mindy said that her oldest daughter has asked for the past two years when would they get to take a vacation and that she was ecstatic about the experience.  Amber said she “left refreshed and relaxed.”

“SPIRIT” and His Friend

“SPIRIT” and His Friend

It was a “hands on” event for the Fiesta Bowl staff as they spent their Saturday afternoon visiting and playing games with the families along with assisting the moms as they took their children through the food line.

Jose Moreno, Director of Community Relations and Charitable Giving, summed up the excitement on the part of the Fiesta Bowl Charities staff:  “We’re thrilled to give these hard-working moms a chance to kick back and relax with their children. The efforts of Helping Hands align with Fiesta Bowl Charities’ core mission, and we’re proud to support single moms in the program.”

A Good Time for All

A Good Time for All

From the bottom of our hearts, the staff of Helping Hands for Single Moms says “thank you” to the Fiesta Bowl Charities for a weekend that these women and their children will never forget.  You worked so hard to make it so special!  Also, much thanks to the Chaparral Suites, soon to be the Embassy Suites by Hilton Scottsdale Resort, for their hospitality.  And, thanks to Ali FauntLeRoy, Communications Manager (Fiesta Bowl Charities), for a great press release that we borrowed from for our article.


The Fiesta Bowl’s vision is to be a world-class community organization that executes innovative experiences, drives economic growth and champions charitable causes, inspiring pride in all Arizonans. Throughout the 2015-2016 season, Fiestas Bowl Charities granted $1.5 million to nonprofits across the State of Arizona. As a nonprofit organization, it believes in the importance of community outreach and service. Through charitable giving, the organization strives to enhance Arizona nonprofit organizations that contribute to the success of communities through youth, sports, education and human services. Since 1971 Fiesta Bowl Charities has worked to increase its footprint across the state and work to benefit Arizonans year round, during and outside of bowl season. For more information about its local impact and how to get involved, visit

Weigh to Fundraise

For our Friends in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area:

If you’re in the middle of Spring Cleaning, bring your no-longer-wanted items to Meridian Bank instead of throwing them away or having a yard sale. We’ll collect them, have them picked up by Weigh to Fundraise, and for every pound they pick up, a monetary donation goes to Helping Hands For Single Moms.

The ideal items to donate are clothing, shoes, kitchenware & small appliances, home décor, tools, toys & baby items, accessories and linens. We cannot accept furniture, paint, TV’s, monitors and firearms.

Just bring your items to any Meridian Bank branch any time up through March 27th or drop them off at one of two following locations on March 28th between 9am – 2pm.

Location 1:

You will find us at the Scottsdale Promenade on Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd just east of Scottsdale Road in the parking lot in front of Lowe’s.

Location 2:

North Phoenix Baptist Church

5757 N. Central Avenue


Eddie Johnson & Friends – Hoops for Helping Hands for Single Moms

On September 18th, 2014 the U.S. Airways Center Pavilion came alive with former and present Phoenix Suns players along with an assembly of NFL and MLB athletes. These professionals, many who were raised by single mothers, gathered to raise $40,000 to help low-income single moms attend airways

Event host, Eddie Johnson, played 17 years in the NBA and is currently a TV analyst for the Phoenix Suns, He is also a motivational speaker and the author of “You Big Dummy! An athlete’s “SIMPLE” guide to a successful career.” Johnson was raised by a single mom and has a passion to see single mom families succeed.

Eddie Johnson and Friends – Hoops for Helping Hands for Single Moms” will be an engaging, high energy, action-oriented event that will provide attendees an inside view of the NBA. Highlights of the evening will include:

  • Meet the Pro Segment (for those who purchase a Premium Guest Table). Guests will visit over dinner and interact with a Pro about life as an NBA or NFL or MLB player.
  • Dinner and Drinks
  • Exciting auction-style donation action from the “Shoot Around” court as the “Friends” of Eddie Johnson show off their trick shots, engage in the 3 Point Extravaganza, go after bragging rights in the Super Horse game and more!
  • A raffle to win a commemorative basketball signed by all professional athletes in attendance that night
  • An opportunity to support a great cause at this unique and entertaining event.

Players hitting the court will include: host Eddie Johnson, Markieff and Marcus Morris, Alvan Adams, Andre Wadsworth, and more!

Event proceeds will benefit Helping Hands for Single Moms. This local non-profit assists low-income single mom families while the mother pursues a college degree and financial independence. Helping Hands for Single Moms has helped hundreds of single moms succeed in college.

Various sponsorship levels are available as is the opportunity to purchase table seating for 10 or purchase individual seats.
For more information, or to reserve your table now, contact Chris at 602-796-7875.  Or click here to register online.
Date: Thursday Sept. 18, 2014
Time: 5:30pm
Location: US Airways Center
201 E. Jefferson St
Phoenix, AZ 85004

My Mom- My Hero

Michelle’s life, itself,  began as an overwhelming surprise- she was one of two, in an unexpected twin birth to a single mom and a father struggling with addiction.  Her first 10 years were marred by abuse and chaos.  As Michelle floundered in school with undiagnosed learning disabilities, she anesthetized her struggles with alcohol and drugs… starting at age 11.

On the fast track to self-destruction, Michelle began dating a known gang member at age 15 and was pregnant by 16.   Michelle then became an emancipated minor and married the father of her child.  Michelle was young and the pregnancy was difficult. David,  her baby, was born 3 months premature. He was immediately  diagnosed with head bleeds and required numerous surgeries. The scar tissue caused epilepsy.  David has since been diagnosed with Epilepsy, Cerebral Palsy, Broncho-Pulmonary Dysplasia, Hydrocephalus, and visual and hearing impairments. To date, David has undergone over 30 brain operations.

Two heroes celebrating victory at mom, Michelle's graduation

Two heroes celebrating victory at mom’s graduation

Education became a life line.  After working up the courage to divorce her now-incarcerated husband, Michelle was inspired to attempt her first degree. From there she applied for and received scholarships to ASU to complete her B.A.
Michelle’s relationship with Helping Hands for Single Moms scholarship began during her B.A. program. Unlike any of the other 14 scholarships she received for her tuition, Helping Hands brought a unique brand of help and support. “The people at Helping Hands understood the everyday needs of a single mom, things like car repair and dental care. It’s more than a check. It’s a relationship with people who support me, mentor me, provided real answers, solutions and encouragement.”  

Michelle gains inspiration from David’s strength, courage and love. Encouraged, she continued on to her M.A. in Non-profit Leadership, and soon after, an M.A. in Education/Special Education.   Today she is gainfully employed as an elementary school special education teacher.  In addition to her full time job Michelle (continuously inspired by David and all he’s been through) is a motivational speaker.  She is working on completing her first book.  Michelle says she has been able to find strength and healing by giving back to her community.   In addition to being a youth leader, Michelle is the Development Director for a local nonprofit, Athletes Empowering Students (AES).

David's shirt says it all, "Miracles happen...I'm proof!"

David’s shirt says it all, “Miracles happen…I’m proof!”

Helping Hands for Single Moms currently serves single moms living only in Phoenix (and soon Tucson), AZ.  To make a donation that will help us expand nationwide and assist low-income single moms earn a college degree,  click here


Recommended Reading…Bay and Her Boys

Enlightening, heart warming and recommended by single mom professionals:  “Bay and Her Boys.  Unexpected Lessons I learned as a (Single) Mom”  by Bay Buchanan.  Click here  for more information

Dreams Become Reality

“It’s a sacrifice. It’s a big sacrifice. But I would tell any single mom who is thinking about getting her degree that it is well worth it. And the sooner she gets started, the sooner she will be a college graduate.”

Jamie and her daughter celebrate graduation at ASU

Jamie and her daughter celebrate graduation at ASU

Jamie now proudly holds that degree.  A 2013 graduate with her BSN from ASU,  Jamie is enjoying the realization of a life-goal achieved. As a bonus, along with her degree comes an end to jobs that barely pay bills and the beginning of a fulfilling career in healthcare.
Jamie always wanted to be a nurse. Even as a little girl, she knew she wanted to care for people. This wish became more of a determination after spending time with her grandmother of failing health. Jamie discovered an even more focused passion, caring for geriatric patients.  But as with many of us, Jamie’s dreams got sidetracked by life circumstances. After moving from Texas to Arizona to be closer to family as she raised her daughter on her own, Jamie entered Mesa Community College to begin her journey to a more stable life. With her prerequisites finally under her belt she applied to ASU’s nursing program. Even with her 4.0 GPA, it took her three tries to get a coveted spot in the program, but it was worth the effort.   Jamie graduated in 2013.

Of the several offers Jamie received with her newly earned degree, she committed to a position as a floor nurse in an Orthopedic Medical Surgical Unit.  With the added income, she can now afford to enroll her scholastically excelling daughter in dance class and advance her dream, as well.
Jamie and her daughter both know first-hand the value of hard work, but the reward of a better life puts all that sacrifice into perspective.

Thank you gift donors and volunteers of Holiday Happiness 2013

Holiday Happiness was a delightful and memorable day for gift donors and the single moms. We celebrated our Dec. graduates, recognized a very special single mom, Angel Morris, (mother of Phoenix Suns twins, Markieff and Marcus Morris) and welcomed the gift donors who shopped for the children of our single mom college students.  The gift donors and single mom students were seated together to celebrate, visit and wrap gifts for their children.

This is more fun than receiving my own gifts!

This is more fun than receiving my own gifts!

Suns Gorilla wants to know where his gifts are

Suns Gorilla wants to know where his gifts are

Volunteers bring in the gifts while the gift donors stop at the registration table

Volunteers bring in the gifts from our guests

Single mom college students recognized for another successful semester

Single mom college students recognized  

Gift donors meet the single moms for whom they shopped, wrap gifts for her family and visit.

Gift donors wrap gifts with the single moms for whom they shopped

Meeting with the single mom student to wrap gifts for her family is a priceless memory.

Meeting with the single mom student to wrap gifts for her family is a priceless memory.

Phoenix Suns twins celebrate their mother, Angel, with Helping Hands' My Mom-My Hero Award 2013

Phoenix Suns’ twins celebrate their mother, Angel, with Helping Hands’ My Mom-My Hero Award 2013

From Less..To Success

Pictured above: Dawn and her three sons. Now her oldest son is in college, pursuing a graphics design degree.

Pictured above: Dawn and her three sons. Now her  oldest son is in college, pursuing a graphics design degree.

FROM LESS TO SUCCESS!   We love to share about the success of our alumni.
Below is an excerpt from a letter from Dawn, used with her permission:

“I am sitting at the airport right now waiting for my flight and I was thinking about you (Helping Hands).  I wanted to thank you –again- for the tremendous opportunity you afforded to both me and my boys.   You never quite know the full impact that your support will give to another, but I have to admit the  support you have provided to me has certainly paid off.

Last Friday I was promoted to Program Manager for our agency.  I am one of three who now hold this  position and the only other move I could make in the organization is the Executive Director position.  It  is only because of my degree and the sense of self worth I received through earning that degree that I  was even able to apply for the position.  You know it’s funny, when my Exec Dir offered me the position  and disclosed the salary, I instantly flashed back 10 years ago sitting next to my youngest son in a hospital bed in ICU.  He was two months old, I had no job and had just put my ex husband out.  I remember sitting there crying wondering how I would ever get out of the mess I had created.  Well I think now we can consider it done : ).”

Today, Dawn is a well paid professional working in the non-profit community.  She is able to provide for her family thanks to the generous donors of Helping Hands for Single Moms.
We work diligently as stewards of your investment to see that your hard earned money results in success for single mom college student families in need of a “helping hand,” throughout Phoenix, and soon in Tucson, AZ.