Ask MCG: I’m a Single Mom Who Dreams of Doing Good

Dear Nicole,

I’m 29 a single mother of two and I have a career but I’m not happy. In my heart I want to wake up, take care of my home, then visit different shelters. I would take food, cook, read to children, bring toys, etc. I want to open a soup kitchen. I want to give smiles and hope and faith, then go home and give all that to my own children. My “side hustle” is a non-profit called Project Needie but I am feeling discouraged.

This is all I think about when I wake up, and after work I’m on my computer looking at shelters researching how to get my 501 c3 funded. I eat sleep and dream of being in the community. Sometimes I feel like a bad mother because I think about others so much.

I love that you followed your heart, please help me on how I can follow mine while being able to support my family. Thank you

Michelle A., Chicago

Hi Michelle,

Thank you so much for reaching out.  I have never received an “Ask MCG” email quite like yours.

Before I offer a solution, I do need to stop you for one second.  As someone who has pursued “following her heart to self-employment” in the past, I want to caution you that it is rarely as picture-perfect as it seems.  It always costs more money than you think it will, and it can be financially irresponsible if you have a family.  With two kids at home, you need to show your kids stability before you can give that same level of support to others.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t get paid do to what you love! 

Without knowing your complete career background, my first instinct is to say it’s time for you to start looking for jobs at non-profits.  Think of working at an established non-profit like going back to school.  You will learn so much about how non-profits are managed, how they pay the bills, how they get funding and how they market themselves.  Perhaps more importantly, you will also meet the people that will help you grow your “side hustle,” Project Needie.

There are plenty of amazing organizations in our great city that need people with your passion.  Sites like,, and will guide you in the right direction.  Many of these companies will provide full benefits too!

While I totally understand your eagerness to go out on your own, I think you’ll have a lot more success taking a more long-term view. I highly recommend putting together a plan to achieve your goal. Check out the free trial on to do this.  Magic Future will help you break down your big, long-term goal into short term tasks, milestones, habits and even 90-day tasks.

I hope this helps!  I’m also going to email you the name of someone here in Chicago who happens to be a certified resume writer and a certified grant writer. I hope that connection will open some new doors for you.

Thanks again for writing in and for reading our blog!



Nicole Emerick

Nicole Emerick founded Ms. Career Girl in 2008 to help other ambitious young professional women thrive in a career they love. Ironically, growing MsCareerGirl helped Nicole transition her own career from commercial banker to digital marketer. Today Nicole leads the social media team at a large advertising agency in Chicago. Nicole also served as an adjunct professor at DePaul University where she helped develop the careers of PR, Advertising and Communications students. Tweet with Nicole @_NicoleEmerick.