Combining Drive and Empathy: From A Facebook Group to A Non-For-Profit Organization

Woman of the Month Feature | November 2018 Edition

In collaboration with Montreal Tips


Growing up in an affluent family in West-Island of Montreal, Nadia Wiseman remembers her younger self as a shy and highly-empathic child with a fiery drive and remarkable sense of independence.

She began her community work at 18 while studying at John Abbott College as a volunteer working with students with special needs. Planning to become a psychologist, she soon landed a job as an ABA (i.e. Applied Behavior Analysis) therapist, shadow and caregiver specifically working with children with special needs. She finally graduated with a social science college degree (psychology profile) in 2004 with a newly-found interest in writing research papers. But college years had their fair share of crisis and trauma for Nadia as she consistently struggled with depression and attempted suicide for the second and last time during her stay in Israel in 2008. This prompted her to seek help and re-evaluate her direction in life. Upon her return to Montreal, she managed to finish her Bachelor of Arts with a major in Psychology at Concordia University and complementing her studies with a certificate in autism from Penn State University to pursue a career in social work with the goal of helping individuals with special needs.

She chose to become a mother and had to drop out of her program at McGill due to financial stress. The father of her son left to live out of the country when he was only two. Since before his birth, Nadia has had the mono-parental responsibility of her son.

After getting back into the workforce and having worked as a purchasing assistant, payroll and benefits coordinator and then as a merchandiser and witnessing two young family members pass away from cancer and struggling yet in another unhealthy relationship, Nadia suffered from a panic attack at work in 2016 resulting in periodic paralysis of her limbs.

The wakeup call had happened, she realized she needed to make a drastic change in her life. The realization prompted her to take a mental break working part-time at a community center for almost a year helping a young adult with special needs volunteer at this community center. “I chose to make half of the salary I was used to and work 20 hours/week instead of full-time in order to reduce my anxiety, spend more time with my son, give myself the time to reflect and reorganize my life to feel that I’m doing something more meaningful with my talents.” She recalls.

In April 2017, Nadia started a Facebook group to help connect single moms in Montreal, relieve their sense of isolation and share resources. In parallel, she reached out to the community for material donations as she had received such help on her own during tough times as a single mother.

“I felt it was my duty to raise awareness and an excellent opportunity to create the charity I’ve been dreaming about creating. If I had to summarize what made me start Single MOMtreal, I’d say: my heightened empathy, my need to make a difference, my tendency to take initiative, my own struggles as a single mom, my awareness that there is a lack of resources for single moms and the realization that life is short and it’s important to not take your time for granted and to make your dreams come true before it’s too late.”

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