More than 60 metro moms were nominated for our annual Awesome Moms contest, and we are inspired by the stories of each and every one. Congratulations to this year’s winner, Stephanie Moore, and our two finalists, Krystle Curry and Julie Cockroft.
Thanks to everyone who submitted nominations this year! Celebrate the stories of all of our nominees by visiting metrofamilymagazine.com/2022-awesome-moms.
Thank you to our Awesome Mom prize sponsors: Wyndham Grand Hotel, The Spa at 10 North, Redrock Canyon Grill, Mama Roja, Hefner Grill, Upper Crust Wood Fired Pizza, Sweet Pickle, Vellabox, L’OCCITANE en Provence and Dune Jewelry & Co.
WINNER – Stephanie Moore
As a child, Stephanie Moore remembers being taught the importance of kindness and looking for those who need help. She’s lived that lesson since. Now the mom of five teaches her kids, both through her words and her example, to treat others well because you never know what other people are going through.
Stephanie served in the United States Army from 2001 to 2010, retiring as a Staff Sergeant and combat medic after being stationed in Louisiana, Korea and Colorado and serving two deployments to Iraq.
“I learned I’m a lot stronger than what I may have thought,” said Stephanie. “It also made me realize how important family is.”
For the first six years of her oldest son’s life, Stephanie was often away, either in the field or training. That experience strengthened her motherly resolve to be available to her kids as much as possible, encouraging them and always telling them how proud she is of them.
Her time in the service taught her another valuable lesson: “It sounds selfish but sometimes you have to take care of yourself so you can be a better person for [your kids].”
Stephanie has PTSD, and, through prioritizing her own mental and physical health, she is a shining example of a mom whose intentionality in caring for herself is making a life-long positive impact on her children. A member of the Muscogee Nation, Stephanie says she comes from strong people, but she’s realized sometimes strength means asking for help.
“Sometimes it takes us [veterans] a bit to get help because there was always that saying that if you get help you aren’t as strong,” said Stephanie. “We’re finally realizing that in getting help we are stronger.”
In addition to her own therapy and care, connecting with others who’ve undergone similar trauma has been an important part of Stephanie’s life after the Army.
“When I got out [of the Army] I still needed to find a way to serve,” said Stephanie. “Volunteering and giving back to others is my way of serving now.”
Stephanie is a “Warrior Leader,” a peer mentor for the Wounded Warrior Project, which helps physically or mentally wounded service members, and their families, transition to civilian life and connects them to resources and support, all at no cost to them. Stephanie hosts in-person and online events to help link service members, veterans and their caregivers to resources, equipment and other needs. She has a special affinity for the Wounded Warrior Project logo, which depicts one service member carrying another.
“At first, I was the service member [being carried] and now I’m able to support those who need help,” said Stephanie. “I realize that all the therapy, treatment and appointments have gotten me to this point and I’m able to use my journey to help others now.”
Stephanie says it’s important for her to give back to those organizations that have supported her healing. She is also involved in Autism Oklahoma, where she and her husband, Chris, lead an assistance group, provide event support and fundraise, all inspired by their 12-year-old son, Memphis.
“When we first found out our son was on the autism spectrum, we didn’t know what to do or where to turn,” said Stephanie.
From providing family programs and events where Memphis has been able to interact with other kids to connecting the Moore family with speech, occupational and behavioral therapists, Stephanie says the help and support the organization has provided their family has been tremendous. She’s also been able to take advantage of informational classes and opportunities for respite, self-care and connection with other parents who understand her child and the importance of creating a world that is more inclusive of those with differences.
“They are all amazing kids, each one of them different and unique,” said Stephanie of children on the autism spectrum. “Be patient, be kind and try to include them as much as possible. I’ve learned a great deal from Memphis; he’s my little guy who I look up to.”
Stephanie finds her hope for the future in her children, who make her proud every day. Of her three kids who currently live at home, her oldest son, Timothy, will start college in the fall, pursuing a degree in video game development, her daughter will start high school and Memphis will start junior high, where he’ll play on the soccer team.
Stephanie plans to finish her master’s degree in crisis and trauma counseling so she can work closely with veterans and their families to provide a listening ear from someone who has experienced a similar life journey. In addition to serving others, she will continue to prioritize her own health. She’s made it a goal this year to attend monthly retreats for veterans with PTSD.
“They have programs and treatment for mental health, plus I can decompress with outdoor activities, which I love,” said Stephanie. “It’s a way to reset and recharge and come home ready to take it all on again.”
Stephanie hopes that in sharing her story other moms will understand the value in putting themselves first.
“Always taking care of everyone else can be draining,” said Stephanie. “It’s important for all moms to take the time for themselves.”
Finalist – Julie Cockroft
Julie Cockroft remembers being pregnant at 19, unsure about the future. She feels fortunate that she had a loving support system, and that’s only grown as she’s been married to her husband, Jeff, for more than 40 years. Together they have eight children and 11 grandchildren, and it’s become their life’s work to support mothers-to-be in the community.
Julie and Jeff were hired as directors just as ground was broken for Grace Home in 2014. The organization’s mission is to provide pregnant women ages 18 to 30 with housing, access to quality medical care, substance abuse recovery, as needed, and the education and skills to gain a living wage job. Two weeks after the home was finished in May 2015, it was leveled by a tornado.
Grace Home was rebuilt and opened in October 2015, able to care for six pregnant women at a time. More recently, Julie and Jeff have also taken on the role of full-time house parents.
“We function very much like a family,” said Julie. “For many of them, it’s their first time to be part of a structured, loving family.”
About 90 percent of the women served by Grace Home are homeless. Most of the women are referred by the court system, OKDHS, churches or family members. They can stay up to one year after giving birth, and through the organization’s leveled program, they have the opportunity to transition out of survival mode and consider their hopes and dreams for the future.
“They realize they are safe, they don’t have to worry about their next meal, there are people to help them get to their appointments and gain the tools they need,” said Julie. “They can slow their minds down, start planning ahead and build a future.”
Julie recently spoke with a graduate who was able to reunify with and regain full custody of her children, who had been in foster care. She’s now pursuing a college degree.
“This is a young lady who had lost all her children and had no dreams and no hopes when she arrived,” said Julie. “She is a different person now. I’m proud of seeing a young woman’s life changed, to where they see that they are loved, that the Lord loves them and they have a bright future.”
Oftentimes, graduates fundraise and gather donations to bring back to the women at Grace Home, a visual assurance for Julie that they have “caught the vision” and realize their power to impact others in a positive way.
“What we do is hard because you are becoming part of someone’s chaos or trauma — the mess of life — but it is an honor to be a piece of their journey,” said Julie.
Julie relies heavily on her faith through both the challenging and upbeat times. She also makes sure to take time away from work with Jeff, her girlfriends or her family to recharge. A beautiful part of her work is that Grace Home graduates — and their children — become part of Julie’s life forever. She laughingly says she really has close to 60 grandchildren!
One of Julie’s greatest blessings is seeing her kids, who range in age from 21 to 40, love and serve others. She relishes getting together with her children and grandchildren several times a year and attending her grandchildren’s ball games, recitals and special events as often as possible. When she thinks back to when her children were little, she marvels in the opportunities she had to support them in pursuing their passions.
“We did things I would have never pursed on our own … politics, computers, music … we had fun and varied adventures,” remembers Julie.
Julie’s priority as a mom, grandma and now house parent has always been to help her loved ones fully understand their uniqueness and how well they are loved by her and by God.
“Raising your family is one of the greatest things you will ever do,” said Julie. “We all need to be reminded of that because it’s easy to get distracted or overwhelmed, but taking time to talk to your child or listen or read that book — those are things that makes roots grow deep in their heart, ties them to you and gives them security.”
When Julie thinks back to her 19-year-old self, she says God put the right people in her life to help her succeed. And that’s why she is determined to be that person for others.
“It’s the heart of why we do what we do,” said Julie.
Finalist – Krystle Curry
When Krystle Curry thinks back on her childhood, she remembers her mom working three jobs to make ends meet. But she also remembers a mom who planned fun trips to Six Flags, bought her a car and purchased the new shoes Krystle had hoped for.
“My mom was a hard worker, she overcame obstacles and she still made things happen for us,” remembers Krystle. “I will never forget those things, and now that’s what I’m doing with my kids.”
Since she was a teen, Krystle has felt her calling in life is to help and serve others, a responsibility she hopes to pass on to her sons: Lium, 14; Londan, 11; and Levi, 9.
“I didn’t necessarily grow up poor, but I remember what it was to struggle and not have everything I wanted,” said Krystle.
In her career and in the community, she has sought out ways to help those in need. During the day, Krystle works as a financial advisor assistant. A strong proponent of continued education, she recently earned her master’s degree in business administration and is working on her licensing to become a financial advisor. The industry appealed to her because she can help improve people’s lives.
“I can help underprivileged communities learn about financial literacy and take care of my family at the same time,” said Krystle.
In the evenings, she connects individuals with utilities and housing assistance through a nonprofit organization. She also volunteers for the NAACP Housing Program, doing similar work, plus helping those who have been discriminated against find resources and recourse. The need for assistance with rent and bills has increased astronomically during the pandemic. While Krystle humbly asserts she’s simply the conduit for those seeking help, she gets emotional thinking about the many messages of thanks she’s received from the people she’s been able to connect with resources that mean they can stay housed, warm and safe.
“I’ve realized how fortunate I am; I don’t ever want to take anything for granted,” said Krystle. “It has made me think about times I’ve been in need. And I’ve felt responsible to follow through [with their applications] because these people have left a part of themselves in my consciousness.”
Those experiences inspired her to start her own nonprofit. Virtuous Women with Hearts recently received 501(c)3 status and will help provide clothing and housewares to those in need in our community.
Krystle’s giving heart extends to the ways she mothers her three sons, too. For the past six years, their family of four has bundled up on Christmas morning to travel downtown and serve meals through the Red Andrews Christmas Dinner.
“I want them to understand the importance of giving back and loving others unconditionally,” said Krystle. “I teach my kids never to judge, no matter what a person’s background is or where they come from.”
Krystle’s greatest hope for her sons is that they will impact the world around them in a loving, inclusive way, be that in sharing their resources with individuals experiencing homelessness or ensuring they respect others and address people with their preferred pronouns.
“I want them to be accepting of all people and to choose love,” said Krystle.
With so much of her energy focused on serving others, Krystle acknowledges the importance of taking time for herself, too. One of her favorite creative outlets is designing clothing and tackling DIY projects. As a child, she loved to draw and often dreamed she would become a famous fashion designer. Though she laughingly says she’s not famous, her kids’ and women’s clothing lines have been featured in multiple local fashion shows. Plus, she has curated showcases to provide recognition for local artists representing a variety of mediums. She also loves to surprise her boys with trips and adventures.
Krystle hopes other single moms can draw strength from her story and know they, too, are capable of fulfilling their dreams.
“Never, ever give up,” encourages Krystle. “I deal with daily obstacles but I work hard not to allow those things to distract me from what I’m focused on. Don’t allow your today to affect your tomorrow.”
Krystle imparts that wisdom to her boys, too, and she takes great pride in watching her oldest son follow his dreams to take on leadership roles, including becoming vice president of student council at his high school.
“It’s important for my boys to understand that no obstacle is too big; that they can overcome anything and not to allow anything to deter them from their goals,” said Krystle.