MOMS concert an annual tradition
Program for single
into Scott County
Joann Montgomery has learned that it takes small steps to travel a distance in life.
Once a methamphetamine addict, the 36-year-old single mother of two daughters now has a home and a full-time job.
She credits the Burnsville-based MOMS Program with helping her build sorely needed life skills once she’d kicked her drug dependency.
“I didn’t think I could do it,” said the Burnsville resident, who came to MOMS four years ago. “And I’m at the point now where I’m able to enroll my children in sports and extracurricular things. It’s very exciting to be that parent and to be living a great life.”
Based at Faith Covenant Church in Burnsville, MOMS has been helping single mothers in Dakota County build stable lives for more than 20 years. The program is now being expanded to include Scott County, and organizers hope to double the number of women enrolled from 10 to 20.
An annual benefit concert for the MOMS Program has become a key fundraiser and a Faith Covenant tradition. The 10th annual benefit concert will be held Saturday, April 14, at the church, 12921 Nicollet Ave. S.
A silent auction begins at 5:30 p.m., with music at 7. The performers are Clocks and Clouds, Halland’s Paradigm, guitarist Elgin Foster and the Minnesota Police Pipe Band. Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 the day of the show.
Concerts are organized each year by Foster, a Savage resident who attends Faith Covenant and is on the MOMS board of directors. Featuring mostly acoustic performers, the concerts have drawn up to 300 people to the church’s sound-friendly sanctuary.
Last year’s show and auction raised nearly $10,000, Foster said – a decent chunk of the MOMS Program’s $90,000 budget.
Foster was inspired to launch the concert series, which has featured guitar luminaries such as Dean McGraw and Dan Schwartz, after hearing a sermon by the late Rev. Ross Foley.
The former head pastor of Faith Covenant, who died six years ago, had urged listeners to share their distinctive gifts with the community. This year’s concert will reprise the annual playing of “Amazing Grace,” Foley’s favorite song, by the Police Pipe Band.
“If it wasn’t for Ross’ sermon, the benefit concert really wouldn’t have gotten started,” Foster said. “We just kind of give him a little nod by playing ‘Amazing Grace.’ ”
‘A mom on meth’
Montgomery, who relocated to the Twin Cities from northern Minnesota, entered 15 months of drug rehabilitation at Teen Challenge, a program for teens and adults, when she was 29.
“I was a mom on meth,” said Montgomery, whose daughters are now 8 and 11.
She and her youngest daughter’s father had sobered up on their own, but Montgomery returned to drugs while watching him die of melanoma.
“When I went back, I went back really hardcore,” said Montgomery, whose oldest daughter’s father had died previously. “I’m glad my family intervened. Because if they hadn’t, I would be in jail or maybe dead at this point. That was seven years ago.”
A church friend recommended she check out the MOMS Program.
Montgomery was paired with a mentor who helped her set goals, such as getting her finances in order and getting her oldest daughter into counseling to help her cope with the loss of her father.
“That was huge,” Montgomery said. “A couple months into the program we sat down again to review my goals. At that time we looked over what I had accomplished. I just sat and cried because I really felt like somebody was patting me on the back and saying I had done a really good job.”
MOMS was launched in 1990, an outgrowth of a Faith Covenant-based program to build a network of Christian foster homes and provide sliding-fee child care.
“Each of our moms in the program has to have a goal plan,” whether it’s finishing a GED or writing a resume and sharpening job skills, said Jane Palmer, the program’s executive director.
“Her mentor walks alongside her,” Palmer said.
Moms attend bimonthly meetings on topics such as budgeting and setting boundaries for their children. MOMS also has a resource center to connect participants with other forms of help.
The program is a nonprofit separate from Faith Covenant, although the church helps fund it and many of its members donate their own money. Other supporting churches are Christ Fellowship in Eagan and Shepherd of the Valley in Apple Valley.
“Moms can be in our program from one to five years,” Palmer said. “We know that to finish an education, to get a sustainable wage, those things take time.”
For moms in a pinch, there is also material assistance, such as gasoline cards, a food shelf and Christmas gift-buying.
Montgomery said her mentor has even driven her daughter to lacrosse practice.
“The extra hand was very helpful,” she said.
MOMS is a Christian program that serves women regardless of their faith, Palmer said.
“I think they’re just there to be the hands and feet of Jesus,” Montgomery said. “They’re not cramming it down your throat. … Wherever that person is, they’ll try to meet them there.”