Community//

Jody Farley: “Life doesn’t stop with a cancer diagnosis”

Life doesn’t stop with a cancer diagnosis. Bills still need to be paid. Meals still need to be made. The home still needs to be restocked with essential supplies. Most importantly, children still deserve a childhood. Making positive memories possible and being surrounded by a strong support team during trying times is essential to a […]

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Life doesn’t stop with a cancer diagnosis. Bills still need to be paid. Meals still need to be made. The home still needs to be restocked with essential supplies. Most importantly, children still deserve a childhood. Making positive memories possible and being surrounded by a strong support team during trying times is essential to a child’s future. It is our goal to be this support team for these families.


As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Jody Farley, founder and executive director of The Singletons, a 501c3 nonprofit organization. The Singletons assists single parents who battle cancer with meals, household items and community connection. Since 2006, devoted to the memory of Jody’s friend, Michelle Singleton, the organization has supported over 750 single parents undergoing cancer treatment and more than 2,000 children, sometimes supporting more than 50 families a month.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

In 2005, I lost a childhood friend to breast cancer. Her name was Michelle Singleton. She was a 32-year-old, single mother of four beautiful children. I had two small children at the time as well. When she was diagnosed, my thoughts were overcome with the scary reality of what would I do in this situation. What would I need from my friends, family, and community? What resources are available?

Michelle’s cancer battle lasted 15 months. During that time, her friends and family helped however they could; bringing over family dinners, helping her pay an electric bill, restocking her home with toilet paper or laundry detergent and taking the children to the zoo so she could find a moment to rest and relax. As far as community resources, we found none.

Today, The Singletons programs are a direct reflection of the support Michelle received from her network. We pride ourselves on being a reliable constant in the lives of single-parent families bravely battling cancer.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

Over the last 14 years, I have been a witness to some amazing things. We have been so blessed by the outpouring of generosity from our community. We have remained a small but mighty organization and have been embraced by our community with such open arms. When I started The Singletons, I wasn’t sure how many people would want to be involved beyond my friends and family, but we quickly discovered that this was a mission that many aligned with.

I will be forever grateful that others see the value and are connected to The Singletons mission.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

First off, I have made a lot of mistakes. I had no experience in the nonprofit world. I am not ashamed to say that I didn’t even know what a 501c3 status was. I just chipped away at it. I spent hours researching and attending workshops on this and that. After many months I received our 501c3 letter of determination from the IRS and was off! Time to raise some funds.

I was so excited about hosting our very first fundraising gala. The location had been secured. I had a theme. The menu was taste-tested and confirmed. Band? Check! Invitation designed? Yup! I sent it off to print. The printer called me and said, “I usually stay out of this kind of thing BUT this sounds like a great event for a good cause. When is the event happening?” Oh no! I had forgotten to include the date and time on the invitation. Such a simple, yet very necessary detail that in my excitement, I completely missed. I was so embarrassed and grateful at the same time it had been caught in time.

Never be afraid to tackle something you have never done before. ANYTHING. Also never be afraid to ask for help. Nothing great can be accomplished alone.

Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?

For 14 years, The Singletons have been meeting the needs of today, while providing hope for tomorrow for single-parent families battling cancer. We provide bill payments, prepared meals, and bare necessities (toilet paper, laundry detergent, etc.) for single-parent families battling cancer. We also host events for kids and parents to connect and have fun, because I strongly believe that fun is essential.

Life doesn’t stop with a cancer diagnosis. Bills still need to be paid. Meals still need to be made. The home still needs to be restocked with essential supplies. Most importantly, children still deserve a childhood. Making positive memories possible and being surrounded by a strong support team during trying times is essential to a child’s future. It is our goal to be this support team for these families.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

While there is not yet a cure for cancer, treatments continue to improve and extend a terminally ill individuals time to be with their children. Seventy percent of the single parents we serve have a stage 4 cancer diagnosis. These individuals cannot go back to work. Cancer warrior is now their full-time job and it is a hard job. The Singletons remain a support system for these families through the journey.

Last year, The Singletons lost one of our moms, Tiffany, after an 11-year battle with breast cancer. Her daughter was only 3 years old when we met them in 2008. Tiffany’s daughter began high school four weeks after her mother’s passing. This young girl has little memory of a time in her life when her mom was not sick. Tiffany and her little girl, like so many, became a part of The Singletons family. Creating lasting, positive memories, sprinkled with hope is a crucial life force for these families. This is the reason The Singletons exist for this population.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

Although our purpose is not necessarily to cure cancer, we are focused on the present and what we can do to help cancer patients. We hope that one day cancer isn’t something that our community has to battle. Until that day, we want to have the resources to assist those going through their cancer journeys. Our focus is more on the feeling of being supported. The community can help by donating and being an active part of their loved one’s cancer diagnosis.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Leadership is being the example and showing people that they can do hard things. An example is when people recognize the gaps and regardless of expierence are willing to fill those gaps. I relate this to my personal journey as I had never run a nonprofit before and didn’t know how to even begin but I saw the community gap and was able to take the necessary steps to fill it.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Mentally and emotionally, this is going to be really hard work. I feel like I knew this to a certain degree having lost a friend to cancer. In my opinion, grief is an emotion with a life force all its own. It cannot be outrun or ignored. No matter what, it must be faced and worked through. Watching so many families struggle through this completely unfair and unkind disease is difficult. I have learned, overtime that my health and well-being as well as my staff and volunteers are equally important.
  2. Always make decisions that stay true to the mission, vision and values of the organization. You can’t please everyone all the time! A nonprofit’s goal is to move the mission forward by meeting the needs of the population the organization has chosen to serve. There can be a lot of opinions about how that should be accomplished. It is OK to say no when something is not a good fit.
  3. Create awareness and don’t be afraid to talk about what you do too much. While you might be living and breathing your mission, others are not so it’s important to continue to express your mission to anyone who will listen.
  4. New partnerships can come from unique places. It’s important to be patient and help your supporters fit into their own mold. Gold Canyon State Beard Club comes to mind, I had never thought of targeting my marketing to a beard-growing competition, but they raised thousands of dollars for a
  5. Cheer! Get excited! Celebrate success! You and your supporters will always be the best advocates for your organization/ company. When you set goals and achieve them. Let people know. It is more motivating to others than you may think.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Listen to each other more. I believe wholeheartedly in finding happy mediums. Most times when you really listen one another you will find overlapping themes or ideas. That is the starting point for great change and/ or innovation.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite quote is “I’ve learned that people will forget what you’ve said, people will forget what you did but they will never forget how you made them feel.” By Maya Angelou. I find personal success by following my own path and listening to my intuition and staying in my own lane. I must have a clear vision with my own instincts so that connection with our community is successful.

Is there a person in the world, or in the U.S. with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

My grandmother, Connie Barbosa, taught me a lot about being a strong woman and unfortunately passed away a few years ago. I am thankful for all of her lessons, no matter how brash, and would give anything to sit down for a meal with her again.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Facebook and Instagram

@TheSingletonsAZ

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!


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