By Donna Hill
For the Fort Bend Star
Natalee McGehee, founder of Overflow, wants single moms to know there is a place where they can find answers, seek guidance and just, well, cope.
Overflow is a conference that helps women find answers to the challenges of raising children alone. The reasons for single parenting are many: Some because of divorce or widowhood, or perhaps never married, military wives, even grandmothers raising grandchildren.
McGehee discovered that in her own community there were many single moms at her church, trying hard to raise their families, and they needed help. At the very least, they needed resources to help them find answers.
Enter McGehee’s specially created conference called Overflow, an event McGehee says is meant to “encourage, inform and support moms raising kids on their own.” The conference is this Friday, June 16, and Saturday, June 17, in Cypress.
Several years ago, McGehee, a mother and grandmother herself, conducted a Bible study with a single mom. After talking with her about the struggles and daily challenges the single mom had raising her children, McGehee was inspired to make a difference. But not only in one single moms’ life, but in others in her community.
“I had been married a long time, and raised three children with my husband. I was touched by the challenges this single mother faced daily. We sat and talked and talked of how difficult it was to find information on how to raise children, in every way – like financially, spiritually, physically. Questions from ‘how do I do this single parenting?’ to ‘I didn’t prepare for this, what do I do?’ ‘Where do I go to find answers?’ There were really no other support systems around.”
So four years ago McGehee held the first Overflow conference.
“I talked to my church. We rented a location. Yet we had no network of people to work with; we just wanted to help these single women, and came up with a very small first conference. Now we are in our fourth year.”
The conference has grown with more women asking questions all single mothers need answers to: How to raise babies, how to raise teenagers, raising boys today and raising girls without a father figure present.
It took a year to get started.
“Word of mouth did the marketing for us. Everyone knows a single mom, a sister, a cousin, a neighbor, a niece who is a single mom. So many people jumped on board and helped out. Our mission was to open the door and make these single moms feel welcome, and share with them the best information available on how to raise your child. You don’t have to raise them alone – because we will find resources, so you can cope.”
Each year, Overflow brings in a keynote speaker and conducts several breakout sessions. Women can choose the breakout session, topics like finances, parenting, emotional health and relationships, to name a few.
“We have games and events for the children, while moms attend the conference, very similar to vacation Bible school,” McGehee said.
Overflow 2017 will include nationally known guest speaker and author Lisa Harper (a single mother who adopted a little girl from Haiti), along with several organizations that support single moms. There will also be food and entertainment.
Knowing single women feel isolated trying to provide for their child’s emotional, physical and spiritual needs can be trying. McGehee and her volunteers feel they can make those trying moments better for mothers raising children on their own.
“The demand on women parenting on their own are intense and the total responsibility can be overwhelming. Every year, we see bone-weary, discouraged moms walk into Overflow and by the end of the event, we see confident, hopeful, joyful women walk away, feeling better equipped and inspired for their parenting journey.”
For more information about Overflow, visit www.overflowbcf.com or on Facebook @OverflowBCF.