Being a parent is one of the most rewarding experiences in life. It also certainly has its challenges, especially when one is taking on the responsibilities alone. Often times, single mothers feel tired, broken, and overwhelmed. At SMU, we want our members to find encouragement and support from others who are or have been in their current situation. We also want to provide resources to help equip moms with the tools to be successful despite their circumstances. Through our monthly meetings and events we are humbled and blessed to help empower single moms in our community.
Our mission at SMU is to provide spiritual, emotional, and professional support in order to encourage, equip, and empower single mothers in Virginia.
Through monthly meetings and an online community, SMU hopes to:
- Provide a safe, non-judgmental environment for single mothers to connect
- Promote a healthy balance between family, work, and social life
- Encourage health & wellness (for moms & kids)
- Teach on financial stability & planning
- Facilitate goal setting & follow-through
- Provide community & professional resources
- Support professional, emotional, & spiritual needs through networking, community-building, & prayer
With donations from our community of supporters, some of SMU’s 2018 outreach goals include:
- Continuing to provide dinner and childcare at all monthly meetings
- Providing budgeting support and credit repair assistance for members and expanding events to more cities around Virginia
- Hosting and sponsoring members for our 2nd Annual Single Mothers’ Retreat
- Providing emergency assistance to single mothers for basic needs such as utilities, housing, transportation and child care
- Sponsoring children of members for summer camps and/or summer activities
- Assisting member and their children with receiving family counseling and similar services
- Helping families in domestic violence situations with resources and the financial means to find safety
- Providing backpacks filled with supplies for students during our 5th annual Back-to-school event
- Assisting mothers with costs associated with extra-curricular activities for their children
- Providing Thanksgiving meal baskets and turkeys to our members
- Hosting our 5th annual Christmas Party with gifts for mothers and children
Founder & President
Andria Yamamoto, Founder & President
Andria Yamamoto is a happily married mother of 4 amazing children. She became pregnant at the age of 15 and had her first son at 16 in April of 2002. Andria faced many financial, spiritual and emotional hardships along the course of her journey and at 19 she had her second child. She found herself single once again and was determined from then on to not fall victim of the statistics and stereotypes that surrounded young single mothers. Through those many trials and tribulations Andria was able to use her lessons learned as a means to set high goals and work daily, weekly and monthly on achieving them.
Co-Founder & Vice President
Andrea Balarezo, Co-Founder & Vice President
Andrea Balarezo is happy wife to her husband Travis, a mother of 3 beautiful children, and a teacher/tutor in the Northern Virginia area. She became a single mom in March 2002 at the age of 16. With the support of her parents and by the grace of God, Andrea graduated from high school and went on to study Elementary Education at Penn State with her 2-year-old son in tow. Determined to fight against the statistics associated with being a teen mother and with a desire to aid others in doing the same, Andrea launched AllSingleMoms.com, a support and resource website catered toward young and single mothers (no longer active). In June 2007, Andrea lost her mother to cancer and soon after, her little brother came to live with her. She now found herself in college pursuing her degree, working to help provide for her family, and raising 2 children.
Renee DuPerow, Secretary
Renee DuPerow is happy mother of 3 beautiful children. She became a single mom in January 2004 at the age of 16 to an amazing daughter. With the support of her mom and sister, she was able to obtain her GED and attend trade school at night while working two jobs.
She has always had a passion to help others and has always put others’ needs in front of her own. She volunteered many years with the Ronald McDonald House Charities and always had a passion for non-profit work. She was a member of SMU for a couple of years before obtaining her role as Secretary. It brought her so much joy to see she wasn’t alone in the trials she faced. Her heart is all in this organization and she can’t wait to see the amazing things to come.
Children's Ministry Director
Shelah Upson, Children’s Ministry Director
Shelah Upson has two wonderful children – Jada 15 and Jazzlyn 11. Her mother, who is her inspiration, raised 6 children in a single family household. Shelah was blessed with the gift of working with children at a young age. She’s been working as a professional chef and early childhood caregiver for over 15 years. Her passion and gift has always been working with children.
Working as the Children’s Ministry Director for SMU gives Shelah the opportunity to help the children develop more intellectually, socially, emotionally, and physically.
Diana Lugo, Fundraising Coordinator
Diana is a single mother of 3. She has been a part of this organization since it was inspired by her friend Andria. It was important for Diana to support her friend in the uplifting of other women simply because she wanted her to know that she cared for her. Little did Diana know, this group would resuscitate her. Diana and her children have spent the last few years recuperating from a domestic violence household. She found that sowing into people, encouraging them through the hard times, and building people up, brought back to life the part of herself that she loved. Diana is dedicated to building people up and to inspiring the greatness in them.