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The Small Successes Create the Path to Our Dreams

JP Alumni Fellow Stacy Abbott talks celebrating wins, mom-friendly work policies, and building the life she wants.

Stacy Abbott — an entrepreneur, mother of two, 2020 JP Brooklyn alum, and 2022 JP Alumni Fellow — is passionate about life. She wants to help bring more life into the world, celebrate it, and live it with intention. She says JP helped her heal and grow when she was in a broken place, and she hopes that her children will one day understand the importance of the program.

“The future moment I anticipate the most is my children being old enough to understand the importance of my involvement in JP and how big of a pivotal moment it was for our family,” she reflects. “My children will not be strangers to higher education, entrepreneurship, and financial independence.”

What dreams are you working to realize?

It’s a long list. My ultimate dream is to become a doula. That’s where my heart is. I really want to cater to women as we bring life into this world because I think that this is so magical. Why not embrace it?

But in the meantime, I am pursuing entrepreneurship for my husband and myself. He has his dream. He’s a truck driver, and we started a business a couple of months ago, and it’s in the process. And then for myself, I like doing little T-shirt designs. I want to start making little empowerment quotes and just remind moms and women that we are beautiful. What’s better than us? I have a cricket, and I’m just printing little things and doing these fonts. I have a black tee project going on now, where I’m only doing black T-shirts and just being creative with that. Entrepreneurship is like a ticket. It’s a way out. I can make my own hours, I can schedule things around my kids’ schedule, and I don’t have to answer to anyone but still hold myself accountable to what needs to be done.

But as far as success goes, every chapter in your life is neat to celebrate. I think we take for granted that, “I’m not where I want to be. I’m not a doula yet, so I’m not going to celebrate until I become a doula.” And we forget to live in the moment. We forget to live in the small successes, and it’s growth on every level. I’m not where I was last week. I’m not working a 9 to 5 like I was two years ago before the pandemic — and just being successful in that way.

What do people wrongly assume about single moms?

People wrongly assume that single moms have a ton of support and can make decisions easily. For example, not working because her child’s school is closed, not accepting a job because of late night and weekend scheduling. I get a lot of — and this is all personal experiences — “You’re a mom; take the job.” “You’re using, ‘I’m a mom’ as a Band-Aid for why you’re not doing things, why you’re not accomplishing what someone else thinks, who has no kids or has both parents present in the home or lives with their grandparents.” We don’t have that. New York is rough. New York is tough. It’ll eat you and spit you out and move on to the next. Everyone is working to make sure that their bills are paid, make sure that they can maintain the lifestyle that they’re living, so I can’t take a job that says, “Hey, we need you here on the weekends. We need you on holidays. We need you late at night.” And the reason is I can’t leave my kids with anyone. Chances are that person is also working weekends.

But we don’t have that support, and I think that I get looked down on a lot, like, “You’re using your kids as a Band-Aid for why you’re not doing traditional things.”

“I hope that, years down the line, my children will remember that JP and the concepts on which it is built are powerful and life changing.”

What should public policymakers prioritize so that single moms can fairly reach economic mobility?

I breastfed my first daughter for three years, and it was difficult because the workplace is not catering to breastfeeding moms. And that makes breastfeeding less successful, especially among minority women because we do more hands-on work: We’re not always in the office or have private office spaces and stuff. I did home care, so when I’m doing home care, I’m in the street with my client who has a doctor’s appointment, who’s probably in the emergency room — I can’t pump.

So I feel like they need to consider from a woman’s point of view things that can help her transition in the workforce while still being a successful breastfeeding mom. We shouldn’t have to choose: “Maybe I’m not going to breastfeed my baby because it’s going to be trying, and I’m going to fail at it because my job doesn’t allow it.” Ensure there is federally mandated maternity leave that allows all new moms the opportunity to stay home and breastfeed comfortably, regardless of their job title.

What do you hope your children will remember about JP years down the line?

I hope that, years down the line, my children will remember that JP and the concepts on which it is built are powerful and life changing, that education is the pathway to end poverty, and I always praise the Empowerment [now Empowerment and Leadership] factor. That was the pivotal moment for me, the reconstructed mindset. I think I needed that reset. I needed to hit that reset button, and, quite frankly, there were no programs out here that were offering that specific tool, so I feel like that concept is so necessary. It was so necessary for me to end up where I am and to be successful, being the first in my immediate family to graduate from college.

What else do you want people to know about JP?

I would like people to know that JP is a do-it-yourself program. It was hard work. You have to show up. You have to get the work done. And I guess in the community that I’m in, they want it easy, and they want it fast. And that’s not it. You have to show up, and you have to put in that work in order to see the results and be successful at it. You get up and do the work that is necessary for you to meet your goals.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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