But that's about to change for Little Rock resident Karen Baker, who's proven to not only be a great mom, but an exceptional one! For her efforts, Baker has been named by Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) and Kimberly-Clark Corporation as one of 16 finalists for the 2012 Most Inspirational Mom.
The search, which highlights everyday moms doing extraordinary things, sought finalists based on their contributions to their children, families and communities. Baker could be named one of three moms to receive a University of Phoenix full-tuition scholarship (undergraduate or graduate and electronic educational materials).
All three selected moms will also receive a Kimberly-Clark survival kit, which includes a one-year supply of its well-known brands such as Viva, Kleenex, Cottonelle and Huggies.
Baker was driven to make sure her kids beat the cycle of poverty. She worked two jobs to make sure there was food on the table and clothes on her kids' backs. Baker has also been a leader in the community helping to raise a number of children from friends and family within the Little Rock area, in addition to her own. Because Baker was adopted, she wanted to make sure no one close to went through that same experience. Baker, who was nominated by her son DeShaun Bennett, now moves one step closer to becoming the Most Inspirational Mom.
The Most Inspirational Mom initiative is part of BGCA's Family PLUS (Parents, Leading, Uniting, Serving) initiative, which is a family strengthening program derived from BGCA's long-standing partnership with Kimberly-Clark. Family PLUS encourages Boys & Girls Clubs around the country to integrate family strengthening activities into their programming, in addition to hosting Family Nights to help teach parents a number of skills to strengthen their own families. Currently some 2,000 Boys & Girls Clubs around the country are implementing Family PLUS into their programming.
Lucille O'Neal, mother of four children including legendary basketball player Shaquille O'Neal, is the ambassador of the Family PLUS program and launched the Most Inspirational Mom search in November 2011. "I came up through the Boys & Girls Club and so did my children, so I have a strong connection to Family PLUS and the Most Inspirational Mom initiative. We have heard about many incredible moms through this process, but now we are down to the top 15, and every one of these moms would be ideal choices because they are all wonderfully inspirational. The competition is tough but the reward is sweet," said O'Neal, also a University of Phoenix alum.
Baker joins 15 other finalists currently highlighted on familyplus.bgca.org. In the next step of the search, each mom will submit a scholarship application with three short essays further detailing her work with her family and within the community, plus her desire to go back to school. A panel of judges will review the 16 applications and selected the three scholarship winners. The three Most Inspirational Moms will be announced during the week of May 7th and will enroll at the University of Phoenix during the summer.