A low point in Shearese Stapleton’s personal life led to a mission of uplifting others.
“I went through a divorce in 2011 and my life changed drastically after that,” she recalls.
The transition to single parenting and related adjustments left Stapleton twisting in the wind, emotionally. But, not one to be content without solutions, she took responsibility for her recovery from the crisis. By seeking knowledge and consulting professionals and by drawing on her experience mentoring others, Stapleton pulled herself “back to normalcy.”
Relating her struggle to similar ones taking place in various households and among other Flint parents, she formed Mothers of Joy University in 2016. The program hosts workshops for adults at local schools and community sites, including Higher Quality of Life Ministries, 5601 North Saginaw St. A new cohort begins at Higher Quality of Life at 6 p.m. Thursday Feb. 22.
“I’m thankful that God brought me back to one of the things I love, and that’s helping mothers and families in crisis,” says Stapleton.
Prior to her current work as a program coordinator for University of Michigan Flint, Stapleton operated a home-based daycare for 15 years, providing for children but informally mentoring young mothers. After recovering from the difficulty in her own life, while managing her household at the same time, she wanted to re-channel her energy toward teaching others.
“When I went through the things I did I didn’t have a lot of people to talk to,” she says.
Friends were supportive, but they couldn’t help her navigate the depths of depression. Recognizing the need for assistance to more parents and drawing upon what she learned she began creating a curriculum for Mothers of Joy. Classes, which have also been held for adults at Eisenhower and Beecher Schools, address a variety of topics from stress management to self-esteem and gaining tools that help maintain stability in households. Job interview skills, proper professional attire and other life management skills are emphasized.
“People do better when they know better,” says Stapleton.
The Ruth Mott Foundation awarded Mothers of Joy a grant to hold weekly sessions at Higher Quality of Life. The cohorts include dinner for participants.
At the core of the curriculum for Mothers of Joy is a message that encountering obstacles doesn’t have to make parents feel like failures, or like they’re less worthy of their positions at home.
“When people love themselves,” Stapleton says, “they take care of themselves.”
For more information about Mothers of Joy University, call Shearese Stapleton at (810) 293-2961.
Lead photo courtesy of Making the Headline News.