PATERSON, NJ- Stories of sacrifice, hardship and struggle made way for tales of unconditional love of children as twenty single mothers were honored Friday night at the Paterson Museum during a special event hosted by Dr. Lilisa Mimms.
Mimms, a single mother of four, and a grandmother of two, who has also announced her intention to run for an At-Large seat on the Paterson City Council, invited the community to join her in honoring the single mothers as part of her effort to “bestow 48 blessings on Paterson residents and organizations,” to mark her 48th birthday later this month.
As Mimms introduced each of the mothers present, her personal connection, and “love” for each was apparent as she spoke without the aid of any notes, yet was still able to make all in the crowd feel as though they also knew each of the recipients.
The evening and reason for the event was an important one, according to City Council President Ruby Cotton, who said that “it is important for us to learn say thank you.” Offering her own story of growing up in a single-parent household Cotton asked the crowd to take a message back to the community that “we’re going to love each other, support each other and change our city.”
Among those to receive a personally designed gift basket, and a citation presented by Cotton and Sixth Ward Councilman Andre Sayegh, was Rhonda Roberts, a mother of three and the Founder & CEO of Murture Sisters, a group that helps men and women with substance abuse.
“Our city is not what people say it is, it’s what we are and what we make it,” Roberts said to applause. Referring to the work of Murture Sisters, which has included providing portable hot showers and clothes to homeless Paterson residents, as well as the efforts of others in the room, Roberts continued “in the midst of the struggle we are making a difference, let’s remember each other.”
Among all of the stories that would be told, including from mothers who have lost children, either deceased tragically or incarcerated, it was those of confidence, solidarity and faith that truly set the tone of the event.
This spirit of solidarity most clearly showed through, and brought tears to the eyes of many, when Tremain Watkins, whose daughter Ashley has battled Cerebral Palsy since birth, made a generous contribution to another recipient, Tarra Carter Daniels, whose own son Davon has been wheelchair bound since a heart attack at just 23 years old in 2015.
As the evening continued calls of “I love your life” from the audience would punctuate each of the recipient’s comments, culminating in one final reminder as Mimms brought the event to a close that “blessing come from honoring others.”