Connecting the Dots

Connecting the Dots

Elevate Your Game…Yes, You Can!

Commissioner Robbie N. Butler offers encouraging words to the Single Moms in our life, “Dear Ms. Single Mom, Yes, You Can!” And on that note, she suggests that you, “Speak Up, Speak Out, and Talk About It.”

But you might be thinking, talk about what??? Ms. Robbie (as she is affectionately called) says, “Let’s talk about YOU & whatever is on your mind at this time! Let’s start with your dreams, your goals, your job (or lack of), your housing (or lack of), your children, your finances (or lack of), or whatever else concerns you because… Yes, You Can – to Elevate Your Game!”

Commissioner Butler currently resides in Long Beach, CA and serves as a member of the city’s Ethics & Human Relations Commission. She is extremely passionate about serving the under-served – and enjoys being a voice for the voiceless. This is clear if you ever peek at her community service portfolio.

She’s also passionate about NBA games. Her favorite team is the Los Angeles Lakers, of course – and on game day you’ll find her rocking a purple and gold colored jersey or t-shirt of the same color while she loudly cheers for her beloved Lakers.

Robbie shares that she was a teenage mom who was fortunate to have a strong support system – one that understood that it takes a whole village to rear a child. Her initial support came from her Mom and siblings. And she doesn’t hesitate to give them major kudos for their role in her life’s many successes.

As an adult, she realized that everybody doesn’t have that level of support. Raising a baby alone is a really challenging job, and Robbie reflects on how she managed that situation. “When I was younger,” she recalls, “we had a village to help with raising our children. No matter what our situation was, we young girls had our mothers, grandmothers, aunties, and other folks in the family and community who cared. Our village equipped my generation of single mothers with the tools to get the job done. Tools like wisdom, guidance, and direction so that we could thrive. Regrettably, today families have become distanced and segmented.”

That leads to the reason why Commissioner Butler wrote her first book which is appropriately titled, Ms. Single Mom – Yes, You Can! – an easy-to-read reference guide for younger single moms who are traveling on this journey of single motherhood.

She wanted to conceptually share the wisdom and knowledge gained; and the valuable lessons that were learned from her “support village” with other single moms who were looking for answers; and help them save time and money in the process. Robbie thought her work was finished but soon came to realize that it was just getting started. In 2015, she found out the ‘WHY’ she wasn’t finished yet.

A heartfelt desire to fill the gap led to her creation of the Speak Up Empowerment Foundation, Inc. (SUEF, Inc.) – a 501.c.3 which helps connect the dots even more securely for single mothers.

SUEF, Inc. is a Black-led and operated non-profit organization which services women of every nationality from that distinct lens. She describes the non-profit’s mission as “a three-part, responsive, strength-based approach of education, encouragement and empowerment designed to uplift and remind single parents that “Yes, You Can!” when the odds are saying “No, You Can’t.”  Commissioner Butler’s creation of the Speak Up Empowerment Foundation and the publication of her books came from a desire to help others manage life situations that might otherwise knock the breath out of a person.  She recalls all the challenges associated with teenage parenthood, subsequently managing divorce, experiencing the loss of a child, and having to change jobs mid-career – none of that was easy and answers weren’t always easy to find.

“My own sense of determination, innovation, and resiliency helped to navigate my journey, but many others need a little ‘extra’ assistance because it really does take a village to bridge the gap and restore a person’s balance. I want to help build a cohesive unit where single moms can find some of those critical answers, in a timely manner.”

Commissioner Butler, with input from her team, has created a safe space for single moms to replenish their energy – and it offers what many of today’s single moms are missing along their journey. The organization has forged a comprehensive network of community-based mental and physical health, education, and employment resources – and its community partnerships also offer access to training, housing, nutrition, financial, and business development resources and services. These are all mobilized to serve families headed by a single parent, especially those in under-served and under-resourced communities.

The centerpiece of her work today is the Ms. Single Mom Empowerment Forum, a free-to-attend, 100% sponsor-driven annual event hosted in Long Beach, CA each spring to celebrate and empower single mothers. “The empowerment forum is our pre-Mother’s Day gift to single moms in the community. We provide the mothers with access to the resources that are often necessary to answer this question: How can I save time, save money & elevate my success game in the process?”  Each year, approximately 125 to 200 moms attend the in-person event.  But because of the COVID pandemic, SUEF, Inc. was forced to reimage its program into a virtual setting in 2021 and 2022.

The 2023 event was quite exciting for everyone because the organization marked its seventh annual event – and once again hosted it in person. Commissioner Butler says, “The 2023 energy was exceptionally powerful. And now we’re preparing for our eighth annual celebration in April 2024!”

She stated that “a couple things that set us apart is that we provide access to resources in one central place – and everything about this program facilitates the success of single moms. We are a conduit of information to the community, a trusted messenger who has proven to be trustworthy and reliable, including our respect for everyone’s time.”

The Ms. Single Mom Empowerment Forum is traditionally hosted on a Saturday, just a few days prior to Mother’s Day. The forum includes a wealth of engaging information – and its appeal is cross-generational. “About 25 per cent of our attendees are grandmothers who are responsible for the care of minor children,” and she further added that” seniors often bring their daughters and granddaughters to share the vision, absorb the knowledge, and join in on the day’s comradeship and fun.”

According to her, “One of the biggest challenges for single mothers is reliable childcare so they provide complimentary offsite childcare to attendees with children aged 3-11.”

“It’s pretty awesome when local dignitaries like the Mayor and Assemblyman, as well as Councilmembers, CEO’s and others stop by to see what we have going on & present us with a certificate, or two.” She says, “It’s real cool to be on their radar and know they support our vision.” Commissioner Butler summed it up with, “As for the future, it’s looking very bright so we might need to put on a pair of shades.”

Throughout her previous careers, she has volunteered with several major nonprofits, and served in various positions of board leadership. She also understands the importance of philanthropy in her line of work and regularly reaches out to obtain financial support for important causes, especially for her work at SUEF, Inc. Many entities with money want to get behind and support deserving causes, so it’s important to be helpable. “I have learned to speak up, speak out, and ask for assistance because none of this succeeds without philanthropic support!”

In closing, Commissioner Butler’s pastimes include playing trivia games, dominoes and bid whist for fun. And she also told me to add relaxing while listening to live jazz music and enjoying fine champagne to her list of favorite things to do.

 She enthusiastically invites you to take a quick moment and visit the organization’s website at: to catch glimpses of the wonderful work that she and her team are doing for our community of Single Moms… Yes, You Can! And if you or someone you know would be interested in attending, register today!

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