These days, there’s a seriously blurry line between what’s real and what’s, well, not (thanks social media). Jaycina Almond is as genuine as it gets. Driven, self aware, and super-passionate, the 24-year-old single mom (daughter Syx is 2.5) and model just launched The Tender Foundation, a nonprofit that assists moms in need, taking them from barely surviving to thriving – without all the bureaucratic red tape.
It’s a mission that’s especially close to her heart, as Jaycina could have easily been a statistic herself. She had a full ride to the University of Kentucky but dropped out after a semester because she wasn’t passionate about school. She moved to Atlanta to pursue her dreams of becoming a model. While working retail jobs and trying to break into modeling, her life suddenly took a drastic turn when she found herself pregnant at 20. True to herself, Jaycina embraced motherhood with pure grace, posting beautiful Instagram posts of her nursing Syx, which turned out to be the launchpad for her modeling career.
Fast forward 2 years, she is now signed with agencies in Atlanta, LA, NYC, and London and has appeared with her daughter in campaigns for Gap, Doen, Hill House Home Baby, and Madri.
Jaycina knows firsthand just how hard single motherhood is and feels strongly that no mom should have to worry about providing the basic necessities on top of parenting a newborn. That’s why she started Tender – she’s determined to make a difference.
She got honest with us about her truth, her struggles, and her hopes for the future.
I had to dig deep to avoid letting the shame and stigma of being a young, single, black mom get me down. I credit Syx for giving me the push to believe in myself. She’s the driving force behind everything I do, and I want to be the best person I possibly can and set a good example for her. I hope by seeing the work I do through Tender, Syx learns not to judge people and instead to look out for others and advocate for the things she believes in.
The Key to Co-Parenting
Syx travels with me if I’m gone for more than a few days, but if it’s a quick trip, she stays with her dad. In the beginning, co-parenting is really tough because it’s simultaneously happening with the decay of a relationship, so emotions are running high. It gets easier as you get into a routine, and I find that if I put what’s best for Syx first (and take my feelings out of it), I always get the best outcome. That and time. Time heals all things.
A Better Way
I learned through my research that moms have to jump through a lot of hoops in order to receive assistance. That defeats the purpose when you’re in crisis mode and need basic essentials to live ASAP. Accessibility is a major focus for Tender. We make it easy to get help without any shame or stigma attached to it by simply filling out a form. Once approved, moms receive assistance in the form of emergency bill pay (typically covering rent or getting them into safe homes), grocery store gift cards (so they can choose what’s best for them), and necessities (diapers, wipes, clothing, formula, car seats).
How It Works
We raise money for Tender via fundraising events. The first, a Baby & Me yoga class, was held in Atlanta last weekend. Evereden provided product for the goodie bags – it was so fun! We then offer the same experience to our community of moms – making what seem to be out-of-reach luxuries accessible to these women in need. This also fulfills another big part of our mission – to create a safe space where moms can connect with other moms (because we all need our own village).
Long-term, I hope to go beyond meeting the immediate needs of moms and help them reach sustainable financial independence by offering women-only affordable housing and an employment development program through Tender. Right now, we refer them to great organizations like Pad Split. And once Atlanta is running smoothly, I want to take Tender to New York and Los Angeles, where I spend a lot of time for work and have a community of mom friends to help.
For us, I think the little, simple moments are the best: When we wake up in the morning and cuddle and bask in the sunlight. When I pick her up from school and she is so excited to see me. When she cups my chin in her tiny hands. All those moments feel like Eden to me!
Photo By: Nicki Sebastian, Donte Maurice, Sevlynn, Christian Cody