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A L I C E DAV I S

A Life By Design At Walt Disney Imagineering, Alice Davis is the original “designing woman.” In fact, her entire life has been by design. Born in 1929 in Escalon, California, Alice learned early on how to face any challenges in life. “What nationality are you?” her father would ask. “American,” young Alice would answer. “And what are the last three letters of that word?”

“Can!” she’d reply. Alice knew then that she was capable of more than she could imagine. For 83 years, Alice has been proving that, indeed, she can.


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Led by executive director DaAnne Smith, Single Mothers Outreach has helped 2,200 single parent families in Santa Clarita and the surrounding communities. The nonprofit organization currently serves 500 families, and interviews an average of seven new clients each week. “I like to say that we’re a scaffold,” DaAnne says. “We scaffold the families facing sudden housing instability, income loss, emotional trauma, and economic and social discrimination. We prop them up, because many of them are basically starting over.” Single Mothers Outreach is a first-of-its-kind organization, offering an online community, workshops and classes, family activities, holiday programs, free clothing distribution, education, and more. Open to dads, too, clients who don’t quite “fit” with married couples or singles without children are able to find and form lasting friendships and connections with others who understand. Leading three staff and more than 80 volunteers, DaAnne was awarded one of the “51 Most Influential People” in the Santa Clarita Valley by The Signal newspaper (2008), the “Women Who Make a Difference Award” by Soroptomist International (2009), and the “Volunteer of the Year Award” by Zonta of the Santa Clarita Valley (2009). In 2010, DaAnne was one of ten Los Angeles residents to receive the prestigious “Local Heroes Award” by Bank of America. But it’s the stories that make her face light up.

Stories like a mom who was homeless, and living in her car with her two sons. She needed a bus pass to get to a new job, and Single Mothers Outreach provided one. Months later, she stopped by Programs and Services Director Jennifer Kennedy’s office to say thank you. She’d kept her job—and afforded a house—all because SMO offered hope, support…and a bus pass. Stories like a widow whose nine-year-old son was diagnosed with cancer. When she was forced to quit work in order to take him to chemotherapy treatments at City of Hope, Single Mothers Outreach stepped in with financial help. Thanks to one of SMO’s workshops, she returned to college, graduated last spring, and is now working toward a master’s degree. Best of all, her son is in remission. Stories like a mom who cleans houses for a living. She struggled under a mountain of debt—$30,000 worth—until she was inspired by SMO’s classes on financial planning. After months of hard work, she announced last May that she’d paid off every last cent. Today, she is saving toward college. Stories like a woman who left an abusive relationship. She rode seven buses every day to get to her job in Canoga Park. Single Mothers Outreach helped her obtain a green card, and as a result, she was able to get a better job, a car, and even her own mobile home. Story after story, changing life after life. “Women are the inspiration,” DaAnne smiles. “As you help a parent, you help the whole family. Strengthen the family, and you strengthen the whole community.” And that’s precisely what the staff at Single Mothers Outreach does: strengthen the whole community. They scaffold hundreds of single parents, and touch thousands of lives. They are a platform, supporting others and raising them up to new heights. Ultimately, Single Mothers Outreach is a team of compassionate writers, coming alongside families with a little revision, enabling them to live a better story.



Empowering HeArts 2012