Summit Addresses Needs of Single Parents

Written by Ann Byle on . Posted in Local

mattMatt HavilandMatt Haviland knows all about being a single parent. He's one himself, non-custodial parent to his 10-year-old daughter. He also knows parents like him have struggles that other parents don't.

Now single parents can find help and encouragement at the inaugural Midwest Single Parenting Summit, created by Haviland, founder of A Father's Walk, and Dawn Blocker VanderWerf, founder of Single Parent Missions. The summit takes place at EverGreen Ministries on May 12-13.

"We want single parents to know how loved and cherished they are by God, and that God hasn't forsaken them," said Haviland. "We want them to find encouragement in the sessions and through the people there and the teaching."

The Midwest Single Parenting Summit features 8-10 breakout sessions on topics such as "A Roadmap for Single Dads," "Five Deadly Traps Single Parents Fall Into" and "Where Do I Belong as a Single Mom?" There will be two keynote addresses, one by single-parent expert Linda Jacobs and another by local single dad Cole Williams.

The Summit began as the Single Parenting Expo back in 2012. Ten vendors and maybe 20 people showed up. By 2015, over 30 vendors and more than 200 parents, plus children, attended. Haviland and VanderWerf took 2016 off to change direction and create the Summit.

The Summit also offers leadership training on Friday for pastors, church leaders, teachers and community leaders who work with single parents or with children of single parents.

"We want to train and equip these leaders to understand the issues single parents and children of single parents face," said Haviland, who runs A Father's Walk and works part time at the Parent Coalition.

Cost for the Midwest Single Parenting Summit is $19 until March 31, then $29 afterward for the event. Leadership training is $79 until March 31, and $99 after. Some scholarships are available, and childcare for children ages 2 and under is provided.

For more information and to register, visit


Details: Midwest Single Parenting Summit
Date: May 12-13, 2017
Where: EverGreen Ministries, 4512 - 48th Avenue, Hudsonville

Author Information
Ann Byle
Ann Byle is a freelance writer for a number of publications including Today's Christian Woman and Publishers Weekly, a literary agent with Credo Communications, and author of several books including Soul Surfer Devotions with Bethany Hamilton and The Edge of Redemption with Troy Evans. She is an adjunct writing professor, contest judge, and cofounder of Breathe Christian Writers Conference. She and her husband, Ray, have four children ages 11 to 21, and live in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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