Woman of the Month Feature | November Edition

In collaboration with The Actually Connected Network.

In collaboration with the actually connected network

Montreal SIngle moms

Combining Drive and Empathy: From a Facebook Group to a Non-For-Profit Organization

A Feature on Nadia Wiseman & Single MOMtreal

Beginnings

The Journey

Growing up in an affluent family in West-Island of Montreal, Nadia Wiseman remembers her younger self as a shy and highly-empathic child with a fiery drive and remarkable sense of independence. 

She began her community work at 18 while studying at John Abbott College as a volunteer working with students with special needs. Planning to become a psychologist, she soon landed a job as an ABA (i.e. Applied Behavior Analysis) therapist, shadow and caregiver specifically working with children with special needs. She finally graduated with a social science college degree (psychology profile) in 2004 with a newly-found interest in writing research papers.

But college years had their fair share of crisis and trauma for Nadia as she consistently struggled with depression and attempted suicide for the second and last time during her stay in Israel in 2008. This prompted her to seek help and re-evaluate her direction in life.  Upon her return to Montreal, she managed to finish her Bachelor of Arts with a major in Psychology at Concordia University and complementing her studies with a certificate in autism from Penn State University to pursue a career in social work with the goal of helping individuals with special needs.

West-Island of Montreal, Nadia Wiseman

From Struggle to Achievement

All the while, struggling with toxic relationship patterns throughout her youth and stuck in yet another unhealthy relationship at the time, she had to decide between becoming a single mother in her twenties or pursuing her career while completing a fast-track Bachelor’s in social work at McGill University in 2011.

“I chose to make half of the salary I was used to and work 20 hours/week instead of full-time in order to reduce my anxiety, spend more time with my son, give myself the time to reflect and re-organize my life to feel that I’m doing something more meaningful with my talents.”

WOmen in montreal holding a child

She chose to become a mother and had to drop out of her program at McGill due to financial stress. The father of her son left to live out of the country when he was only two. Since before his birth, Nadia has had the mono-parental responsibility of her son.

After getting back into the work force and having worked as a purchasing assistant, payroll and benefits coordinator and then as a merchandiser and witnessing two young family members pass away from cancer and struggling yet in another unhealthy relationship, Nadia suffered from a panic attack at work in 2016 resulting in periodic paralysis of her limbs.

The wakeup call had happened, she realised she needed to make a drastic change in her life. The realisation prompted her to take a mental break working part time at a community center for almost a year helping a young adult with special needs volunteer at this community center. “I chose to make half of the salary I was used to and work 20 hours/week instead of full-time in order to reduce my anxiety, spend more time with my son, give myself the time to reflect and reorganize my life to feel that I’m doing something more meaningful with my talents.” She recalls.

In April 2017, Nadia satrted a Facebook group to help connect single moms in Montreal, relieve their sense of isolation and share resources. In parallel, she reached out to the community for material donations as she had received such help on her own during tough times as a single mother.

“I felt it was my duty to raise awareness and an excellent opportunity to create the charity I’ve been dreaming about creating. If I had to summarize what made me start Single MOMtreal, I’d say: my heightened empathy, my need to make a difference, my tendency to take initiative, my own struggles as a single mom, my awareness that there is a lack of resources for single moms and the realization that life is short and it’s important to not take your time for granted and to make your dreams come true before it’s too late.”

Single MOMtreal

Single MOMtreal helps single moms by giving them a space to connect online (Facebook group) and organize monthly events. The network accepts donations and financial help in offering free second-hand items (furniture, clothes, toys, etc) to those who are struggling financially. Consistency and resources continue to be their biggest challenges.

“Our goal is to offer more help, to more single moms, in a more consistent manner. In obtaining our charity licence, we would be able to raise more funds. I want to be able to offer consistent food assistance and financial assistance to help them get back on their feet. I had to turn down to 2 significant donations recently because I don’t have a charity number. When an organization doesn’t have a charity number, it cannot provide donation receipts.” Explains Nadia.

Nadia’s first connection via Single MOMtreal group, Tanya D’Amato, soon became an important part of the network and her active involvement in the organization’s services culminated in co-founding the charity with Nadia. She since has been managing the organization’s activities and services.

The network’s goals in the upcoming year include collecting funds to offer consistent food and financial assistance, organizing powerful domestic violence marches every October, develop a powerful team of volunteers and raising more awareness of what single moms go through and get more people involved in helping.

In addition, Single MOMtreal currently pairs single moms in need with community members who want to help over the holidays by offering food, gift cards, money or gifts. This year the organization has so far paired 200 single moms in Montreal with 200 businesses.

What’s on Single MOMtreal’s calendar for the holiday season?

  • Nov 25th

    A Christmas potluck

    A Christmas potluck is taking place for single moms and their kids with gifts and a comic hero animating the party.

  • Dec 14th

    A singles meetup

    Dec 14th: a singles meetup is taking place at Baton Rouge restaurant. This is aimed for single men and women who can afford such an outing and are willing to donate an amount to our organization so that we can help a single mom who has a 10-year-old boy who is blind and diagnosed with cancer, autism and ADHD. Our goal is to raise $5,000 between now and Dec 25. Single MOMtreal has already raised over $1,200. This single mother is behind on her bills and rent.

    Dec 14th

  • January

    Community initiative

    January: Nadia will be working with a man who started a community initiative to collect food for organizations. His Facebook page is called Feeding Montreal. He is willing to pick up food donations from various locations (offices, etc). The objective of this collaboration is mutual fundraising with the goal of setting up a mini foodbank at Nadia’s home and perhaps other locations.

  • October 2019

    Domestic violence march

    October 2019: Organization’s next domestic violence march is taking place inspired by Nadia’s own personal experience and the domestic violence experienced by many women. The march is for everyone. People who join don’t have to be single moms.

    October 2019

Single Moms in Montreal meeting

You can reach Nadia and Single MOMtreal!

You can reach Nadia and Single MOMtreal to offer volunteer services and your donations by email at admin@singlemomtreal.com and by joining Single MOMtreal’s Facebook group.

Sara Ostad

Sara Ostad

Author | Entrepreneur | Connector | Educator

With a wide array of solid experience and expertise in domains of education, business development and organizational change management, Sara is interested in the intersectionality of education and commerce.

Read More about Sara.