When Tia Gibson’s younger brother died tragically, she was lost in grief.
“I didn’t realize how deep-rooted it was. I didn’t know how to deal with it, but I knew I still had my children to take care of,” Gibson said. “I decided I needed to do something that would allow me to feel again and to live out his legacy.”
That’s when she decided to start Monster Moms, a nonprofit organization to empower single-parent, low-income families, homeless and at-risk youth and domestic violence survivors.
“I took something that hurt me so bad and I turned it into passion,” she said. “My brother is no longer here, but there are other people here that need the assistance and love he would give to everyone else.”
Monster Moms served more than 5,000 women and girls last year with a variety of programs, including financial training, parenting classes, life skills courses, programs for children, teens and more. The program also offers HIV testing.
Women’s hygiene is also one of their core services. Gibson soon realized that when moms came in for assistance, they only asked for items their children needed and never anything for themselves, so Gibson began to give out hygiene bags with women’s products, toiletries and socks.
“We try to make sure we pretty much have everything available to our moms so they are equipped to step out into the workforce and into the world,” Gibson said.
Clients can also get job training through the program. Monster Moms trains clients as community health workers and provides them with opportunities for on-the-job training and volunteer hours to count toward state certification.
“We’re teaching them not only about dealing with the community, but learning how to communicate with families, being a service coordinator,” she said. “When they get certification from the state and go out into the work field, they know what they’re doing when it comes to families.”
In addition to group programs, Monster Moms provides one-on-one services to clients. Women may come in for food or clothing, but Gibson takes the time to find the root of the problem, whether it’s a lost job or domestic violence.
“Once they realize it’s a safe space for them to speak they’ll tell you what’s really going on,” she said.
Many clients are fleeing from domestic violence. Monster Moms follows protocols to ensure that clients and staff are safe in order to provide assistance. Gibson has experienced domestic violence, so she understands the challenges women in that position face.
“It means so much to me to be in a position to help anyone. At one time that wasn’t where I was,” she said. “I know what it feels like to not feel able to leave.”
Before starting Monster Moms, Gibson was a paralegal. While she now works full-time at Monster Moms, her professional background prepared her for her current role.
“A mom who needs divorce papers, I know where to get them,” she said. “I know what I’m capable of doing, what they have to look for and where to go.”
While she’s learned a lot about running a nonprofit since she started in 2017, Gibson appreciated the education she received in the SVP Fellowship program. From branding to board roles, she absorbed as much as she could from the sessions before graduating this spring.
“They taught us so much,” she said. “By the time I was done with SVP I learned how to strategize and plan. I learned what you’re supposed to say when applying for a grant. I was able to write a budget. They taught me when it comes to your business, these are the important things to know.”
With the skills she’s gained and the successes of helping others through Monster Moms, Gibson has set her sights on expanding the program. Her goals include finding a larger space for Monster Moms by the end of the year, and eventually establishing a community center. She also envisions expanding Monster Moms into other markets and possibly even nationwide someday.
It’s the best way she can think of to honor her brother.
“My little brother wasn’t a mom, but he was a kind and beautiful soul. I wanted to incorporate that with the thing I know how to do best and that’s be a mom,” she said. “Monster Moms is about being strong and inspired, to where you can stand in your truth and go forward. It just makes me proud to be able to be a part of this.”