‘It Takes a Mom’ interview series highlights our recent Mother of the Year® honorees by sharing their stories every week. These moms from across the country contribute to our collective voice as mothers. They show us how they harness their maternal energy and how it really does take a mom to do it all! Here’s our interview with Gia Tutalo-Mote, 2021 Florida Mother of the Year®.
What does it mean to you being selected Mother of the Year® in your state?
I can’t think of a higher honor. Being a mother is the greatest honor in itself, and it’s actually a very humbling experience. Am I the mother of the year? I don’t know, probably not. But I appreciate being recognized as the mother of the year. I truly do. I believe in what all of these amazing mothers are doing.
I think my children have seen from my husband and myself to never give up, to always really put love first. To think about doing the right thing, and the right thing will come back to you. We’ve always felt like it’s a blessing to give.Gia Tutalo-Mote, 2021 Florida Mother of the Year®
What do you love most about being a mom?
I love everything about being a mom. Being a mom has been my dream since I was 15 years old. I had a bit of a rough childhood myself, and I always dreamed of creating this, you know, in my 15-year-old brain, this perfect family of my own. Being a mom has exceeded all of my expectations. I knew that it would be difficult. I thought it would be more difficult than it has been. We’ve experienced some challenges with my son’s health. I look at my kids, and I cannot believe that they’re mine. They’re now 16 and 18. Those horrible teen years didn’t come for us. I just think it’s the greatest thing in the world. Being a mom has always been my dream, and it certainly has been a dream fulfilled. And I look forward to watching my kids grow up, having grandkids and everything.
How would you encourage your children to not give up, to keep going, to keep trying?
I think my children have seen from my husband and myself to never give up, to always really put love first. To think about doing the right thing, and the right thing will come back to you. We’ve always felt like it’s a blessing to give. During COVID, we tried to look for the bright spots. I don’t know if you can call a pandemic special, but for me, it was the opportunity to—I work from home—have my husband and my two children at home with me. It was an experience that I don’t think any of us would ever forget. I feel encouraged that my children have made it through this. I feel like they’re stronger for it.
How do you and your family get out in the community to help make a difference?
My kids have been a part of Forever Family since I was pregnant with my son. They’ve been coming on all of my shoots with me since they were babies. They grew up with the kids in care. My son just was accepted to a university. And one of the youth that I featured starting when he was five called my son last week to congratulate him. He calls him his little brother, and he is now 22 years old. We also volunteer at food banks with our church, do a Thanksgiving drive and all kinds of different things. But basically, our life is Forever Family forever. It’s just been a beautiful experience.
One of our main things with American Mothers is the Golden Rule movement. It provides a platform for women who embody the selfless caring spirit of motherhood, and who are using that maternal energy to make the world a better place. How would you exemplify that Golden Rule in your everyday life?
I think just by living every day in love, right? We all want to love one another. We all want to feel loved. And why wouldn’t you want to help somebody? Love is what makes the world go round.
Gia Tutalo-Mote is a wife, mother, and founder of the nationally recognized Forever Family television program. In 1995, as a young journalist, Gia was asked to write a letter opposing an emergency shelter being built for abused and abandoned children in her neighborhood. She refused to write that letter. Instead, she became a volunteer at the shelter where she’d read and play with children several nights a week. What she experienced stayed with her and eventually led to the creation of Forever Family. An Emmy award-winning television producer and reporter, host of Forever Family on ABC 7 and NBC 2, and guest on radio and television programs, Gia oversees all aspects of the organization. Her passion for building awareness, helping foster kids find families, and assisting those who age out of foster care, led Forever Family to grow from a small grassroots initiative on Miami’s NBC 6 to a multi-station initiative on ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX affiliates throughout Florida and North Carolina.