The intentions were good. The Mom’s Group at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Goshen wanted to host a baby shower in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the feast of the Annunciation, March 28, with the recipient being Women’s Care Center in Elkhart.
The Women’s Care Centers offer support and assistance to women with unplanned pregnancies and continues supporting families up to kindergarten age. They provide ultrasounds, counseling, parenting classes and more.
The St. John’s Mom’s Group even planned to incorporate the monthly Women’s Morning of Reflection, organized by Alycia Valentiny, into the baby shower so more women could participate. One of the moms, Amanda Woodiel, created flyers and sent them to St. John the Evangelist School so the students could also participate.
Theresa Gerwels, a member of the Mom’s Group, contacted Women’s Care Center and obtained a list of items they needed new and ones they could accept used. When space at St. John to hold the event couldn’t be found, Gerwels and her husband planned to open their home to host the baby shower and morning of prayer on March 14.
The spread of the COVID-19 and ensuing state of emergency declarations put an end to plans for the gathering. Disappointed but not deterred, Gerwels emailed the women in the group. She asked if they were going out to get essentials, to please pick up a box of diapers or pack of wipes as well; and if they were spring cleaning, to set aside outgrown clothing, unused boxes of diapers or unwanted books, and she’d do a “porch run” to pick up the donations.
On April 6, she did just that. She picked up several items at St. John, where someone who couldn’t attend the shower when it was still scheduled brought their donations. She retrieved items from front porches of Mom’s Group members in Goshen and in Syracuse. A couple of moms dropped off donations on her porch.
Gerwels ended up with several large garbage bags of diapers, wipes, clothing and books. She shared that Better World Books had a bookmobile event last month and also allowed her to come in and choose as many books as she wanted for the cause — approximately 500 books.
“They were excited because they’d saved board books to be donated to the Women’s Care Center and were excited to donate books for older children, too,” she said.
The back seat of Gerwels’ vehicle was completely filled with donations except for where her children were seated, and the back was filled to the top with donations, too.
Gerwels said the Mom’s Group was happy to donate to Women’s Care Center because, “They just love on everyone there. They don’t ask questions other than ‘How can we help?’” She said they are committed to helping families from pregnancy to school-age and offer parenting classes, nutrition classes and more.
Angela Martinez, director of Women’s Care Center in Elkhart, said the need for assistance to mothers is even greater now.
“We are definitely seeing an increase in need,” she said. “We are giving out more than 200 diapers daily. So many families are laid off and need the help, but even those who aren’t are having a hard time finding some of those essential items.”
Donations like the one received from the St. John Mom’s Group “mean so much to our staff, who are serving more families in this time of stress. It’s great for the families too, but our staff sees and experiences the generosity of the community at St. John’s and the community at large. We’re so grateful.”
“We look at this as another way God is smiling at us as we provide for our families in need,” Martinez said.
Staff at Women’s Care Center have been getting in touch with regular clients or have been receiving calls, following which they prepare packages of diapers, wipes and books for the many families with day care or school children who are home now. They will bring the items out to the car.
“We’re keeping the doors to the building locked, but we can still see them and smile at them,” she said.
Clients can come anytime during regular office hours of Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., but are asked to call first. The Women’s Care Center will help any family in need.
“We so appreciate Theresa and the moms at St. John’s. I’m amazed at their resourcefulness: Even though they couldn’t hold the shower, she did porch runs. We’re just so grateful,” Martinez said.
To donate to Women’s Care Center
The donations needed include diapers, wipes, crib sheets, mattress pads, diaper bags, baby thermometers, shoes and spring coats, especially sizes 2T-5T. The Women’s Care Center’s Elkhart location is at 229 W. Marion St. Hours are Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Those wishing to make donations or those in need of receiving donations are asked to call (574) 296-6603.
Women who are pregnant and in need of help can also call the Women’s Care Center helpline at 877-908-2391. There are also Women’s Care Center locations in Bremen, Plymouth, South Bend and Fort Wayne.
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