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`MAMA JAM' HONORS STRUGGLING HEROINES

Low-income and addicted mothers were remembered Saturday in two free Mother's Day events.

The third annual "Mama Jam," sponsored by JEDI (Justice Economic Dignity and Independence for) Women at the Gallivan Center, attracted a small crowd of mothers, grandmothers and children early Saturday. The event, said JEDI Women co-chair Ana Archuleta, was to provide a gathering for single- and low-income moms to have a good day with their children. Archuleta added that many disadvantaged children can't afford to buy Mother's Day gifts.Plenty of arts and crafts materials were on hand for artistic meanderings. Under the warm sun, women and children enjoyed fried chicken and potato salad lunches, lemonade and folk music. This year's theme was "All the Weary Mothers of the Earth."

"This is a way for us to educate and update women on policy reform. JEDI Women empowers women," Archuleta said. "We turn them from victims to leaders."

Victoria Sanders, a single mother of three and a parent advocate at Guadalupe School, said the outing was a necessity for women who are constantly blamed for many of society's ills.

At the University of Utah, 68 women from Volunteers of America detox centers and county-funded substance abuse treatment programs turned out for "I Remember Mama." Lt. Governor Olene Walker and Salt Lake County Commissioner Mary Callaghan attended the second annual luncheon. Barbara Hardy, director of Salt Lake County Drug and Alcohol and Pamela Atkinson, vice president of Intermountain Health Care, were also on hand to lend the women - many of them mothers - a supportive arm.

"(This luncheon) makes me feel like I'm worth something," said Karma Jones, who will graduate from her 21/2-year treatment program at Odyssey House in October.

That's exactly the point, said Jeff St. Romain, executive director for Volunteers of America-Utah.

"We're honoring these women for the courageous decision they've made to turn their lives around for themselves and their children. This is something they don't often get," St. Romain said.

The women at "I Remember Mama" represented the growing population of women in drug and alcohol treatment facilities, where beds are often scarce and females have to be turned away. St. Romain couldn't provide statistics on the percentage of men vs. women in Salt Lake County treatment centers.

"It was really inspirational to come. I wasn't expecting it to be so nice," said Raelynn, a resident at House of Hope's Mothers and Children facility, after lunch, entertainment and door prizes. "(The women speakers inspired me) to make choices, be strong and make our lives different."