Remarkable Women: Jennifer Graham sparks generational change

SAVANNAH, Ga. () — When Brittney Mayfield was pregnant with her son, she knew she needed a helping hand.

“I was living in a trailer, no water, no heat, no electricity, barely making it and there was three dogs and it was horrible, it really was, it was a horrible experience and I was so scared I was going to lose my child,” Mayfield said.  

When it feels like the odds are stacked against you, sometimes all it takes to overcome them is one person telling you, you can.

Everything changed when Brittney found Jennifer Graham.  

Jennifer is the founder of Shelter From The Rain, an organization focused on providing resources to parents who don’t have the support system they need. 

Mayfield said, “It’s a true blessing and she is a gift from God 100% because without her I don’t know what I would do.”

Graham explained, “There’s a huge stigma that comes when you become a single mom.” 

Jennifer has dedicated her life to changing that and making sure the families she works with know single parenting doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. 

Graham said, “Society in general with single moms, it’s not a positive thing that you’re a single mom like you did this or you got into this situation yourself. So like the work that we do, not only to help them with resources, but mindset and how they see themselves and what they’re capable of, that’s huge.”

For Jennifer, this work is personal. She was 16 when she became a mom. 

She said, “Having a support system was everything for me, because when I got pregnant being so young, I was just like, ‘oh my god’, ‘my whole life is over.”

Graham told News 3,  “One of the first things my parents said, they were like, you can still do everything you want to do, it’s just going to be harder now, but they were like you can do it, if you want to, if you work hard, you can do everything you want to do, it will just be harder now that you’re a mom.” 

And Jennifer found that, with the support of her loved ones, there was nothing she couldn’t do.  

“When I was able to accomplish a lot of the things while having my son, like finishing high school, moving from Ohio to Savannah to go to college, getting a job, once I got on my feet, I knew it was really important for me to give that back to other women who were like me who didn’t have the resources I had,” Graham said.  

And for more than a decade now, Jennifer’s non-profit has helped provide parents in need with everything from diapers, car seats and clothes to courses that help with career and financial planning and even a mentorship program where parents like Brittney can meet and support one another.

Mayfield explained, “Just to hear somebody say, you are doing absolutely amazing, keep up the hard work. It means so much to me to know that people actually care and that people do want you to succeed in life.” 

Brittney is now excelling at her new job, has completed multiple courses and is working on becoming a homeowner. She says Jennifer’s support not only changed her life but her son’s. 

Mayfield said, “He’s going to be able to succeed a lot better than I was able to, he’s going to be able to do what he wants with his life.” 

Jennifer’s incredible passion and love for helping families creates generational change. 

Maria Moss told News 3, “It’s a self-sacrifice, it’s a labor of love, she absolutely loves everything she does, she’s passionate about it, she’s going to make sure people are taken care of the right way.” 

Mayfield said, “She has the biggest heart in the entire world and she will take the last shirt off of her own back to give it to you just to make sure you have what you need.” 

“It’s really fulfilling on so many levels to watch a mom find her own greatness,” Graham said.

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