Celebrating Unsung Heroes: Chester County’s Extraordinary Single Moms

Crystal Jones, Rachelle Riley, Sandra OrtizSubmitted Images

WEST CHESTER, PAThe Chester County Single Mothers’ Conference, title sponsored by Benchmark Federal Credit Union, is honoring a trio of extraordinary single mothers who have overcome adversity and are active within their community.

Crystal Jones, of West Chester, is the winner of the 2023 Belinda Harrison Award, announced at the Chester County Single Mothers’ Conference. Title sponsored for a 9th consecutive year by Benchmark Federal Credit Union, all single mothers in Chester County were invited to attend the free conference with daycare and lunch provided, as well as workshops, networking, pampering and giveaways on April 15.

“It was not easy to choose the winner of the 2023 Belinda Harrison Award, named in memory of a woman who overcame multiple obstacles to succeed, thus establishing a reputation as a loving mother, friend, colleague and mentor to so many in Chester County,” said Conference Co-Chair Guillermina Rios. “We had 10 outstanding single mothers from the Chester County community who inspired friends, coworkers and family to nominate them for this honor. They were described to us with words like: passionate, giving, caring, organized, focused, loving and persevering.”

Jones survived four major health events that left her disabled and needing eight months of therapy – all while nurturing four children as a single mother. She overcame homelessness and poverty to work full time, completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Healthcare Administration and obtained her licensure as a Pennsylvania Nursing Home Administrator. She now works in social services with dementia patients and facilitates a caregivers’ support group. She has helped others get into training programs to advance their careers, assisted with job placement to help others support their families, and gain self-sufficiency.

READ:  Chester County Secures Essential Support for Domestic Violence Center with New Generator Installation

Rebecca Worthington, Vice President of Community Relations at Benchmark Federal Credit Union, said, “According to Tina Wright, who nominated Ms. Jones and accepted the award on her behalf while Ms. Jones attended her daughter’s wedding, ‘Every move she makes is geared toward uplifting or helping someone other than herself. She is a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, and most importantly, a caring heart filled with love for anyone she encounters. She never stops when it comes to giving of herself to those in need.'”

First runner-up is Sandra Ortiz. Ortiz moved to the U.S. from Mexico when she was 13, not knowing any English. She went on to earn a Bachelor’s degree from Lincoln University, completing her paralegal certificate while raising her son and working full-time for Legal Aid of Southeast Pennsylvania. She now serves as her office’s sole paralegal. She has been instrumental in expanding the Mobile Home Tax Reassessment Project, which assists mobile homeowners with appealing their property taxes, ensuring that all homeowners receive fair treatment.

Second runner-up is Rachelle Riley. Riley survived life-threatening injuries from a car accident, then gave birth to a premature baby. Riley graduated with a Master’s degree when her daughter was four years old, then went on to work in the field of mental health and developmental disabilities. Riley was a fierce volunteer for her daughter through it all, coaching sports teams and attending milestones that working single mothers often have to miss. Her sacrifices for her daughter were rewarded when the young lady received a full academic scholarship to West Chester University.

READ:  Chester County Weekly Weather: From Sun-Kissed Days to Showery Nights!

The theme of this year’s Chester County Single Mothers’ Conference was “Building Momentum,” and workshops included: Positive Influence Leads to Positive Results, Hidden Secrets of the Virtual World, Life Is a Balance, Childcare – The Big Investment, Be Smart With Your Money, and So You Want to Buy a House? The Chester County Community Collaborative organizes the annual conference to encourage, educate and empower single mothers whose role is main provider for the family. More information can be found at www.singlemotherscc.org.

For the latest news on everything happening in Chester County and the surrounding area, be sure to follow MyChesCo on Google News and Microsoft Start.