A local nonprofit dedicated to helping domestic violence victims and low-income families observes Juneteenth to spread its message of community support.

Formed in 2017, Monster Moms works to empower single-parent, low-income families, homeless and at-risk youth and domestic violence survivors. 

A team of regular and part-time volunteers provide clients with women’s hygiene essentials, as well as courses and guidance on personal financial management, parenting and life skills, creative writing, rental assistance, HIV testing and more.

Additionally, Monster Moms offers consultations, notary services, a food pantry and guidance for someone who wishes to start their own small business or nonprofit. 

Chief Executive Officer Tia Gibson said she was inspired to start Monster Moms as a way to give back to the community and help individuals and young families in need, regardless of their challenges.

Years ago, Gibson lived with her family in New York and had a hard time coping with her brother dying at 14.

“We are learning how to deal with trauma now. We have classes and everything now, but back then there was no way of dealing with trauma,” Gibson said. “I wanted to be able to live out the legacy of how amazing he was as a person.”

According to Gibson, the name Monster Moms comes from her healthy mix of respect and fear of her mother. 

“My mom scared me, but she always loved me, so this is a little play on words with Monster Moms,” she noted. 

Gibson enjoys making a positive community impact, especially with women, because it is important for people who face adversity know they and their voice are valued.

“Our education process is the most important thing,” Gibson said. “That’s that self-love, that’s empowerment.”

Monster Moms was awarded Area Foundation grant funding as part of the 2020-2022 cycle, primarily to help the organization grow staff and expand operations.

“Capacity-building is most important because when it comes to nonprofits and them being supportive of grassroots, capacity is everything,” Gibson said. “In order for us to keep the doors open, we need to build capacity.”

That was indeed the main driver behind the Area Foundation’s involvement and support for Monster Moms.

“Supporting nonprofits like Monster Moms ensures that mothers and their children are equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to achieve positive health outcomes,” said Jennifer Cook, Director of Strategy and Impact with the Area Foundation’s Community Engagement and Impact team.

“Our commitment to help strengthen their infrastructure and build capacity for future growth and sustainability speaks to our vision to close opportunity gaps for those most in need,” Cook added.

Area Foundation funding also helped the organization’s participation in the 2023 Juneteenth citywide celebration. Officially the country’s newest federal holiday, Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of enslaved Black Americans in Texas, who actually did not find out they had been freed until June 19, 1865 – two years after President Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation. 

Monster Moms presented a generational storytelling and a healing circle at the Juneteenth event, offering discussion from a multi-generational perspective in the context of bodily, spiritual and mental independence.

Local business owner La Juana Chambers Lawson, who sits on Monster Moms’ Board of Directors, said Gibson has converted her past experiences of grief and trauma into a vessel by which she and her team help others in need – no matter the challenge they face.

“All of the things that she’s experienced, she’s been able to turn all of it into a service that now she provides to our community through Monster Moms,” Chambers Lawson noted.

The Area Foundation offers nonprofit grant funding opportunities in four major impact areas: Successful Aging, Livable and Resilient Communities, Youth Success and Cultural Vibrancy. These grants are available thanks to generous donors in our community. You can join them by contributing one or more of these impact funds – click here to find out more.

Edward Cortez is a member of the San Antonio Area Foundation’s Marketing & Communications Department Storytelling Ambassador Network.