By Michelle Donaghey
MISHAWAKA — Being a mother is hard enough. But imagine being alone and pregnant or a single mom holding multiple jobs, living with friends and family and constantly moving from place to place. These situations can feel like a nightmare that will never end.
“You can’t reach your goals because life is always busy, there is always something else. It’s very, very stressful when you are in survival mode,” says Raina, 41, a single mom of a four year old son who says she sometimes held two to three jobs simultaneously when raising her older children. Raina recently was accepted into the Bridge of Hope mentoring program at Hannah’s House. She can’t say enough about this wonderful opportunity to set goals, learn more about self-sufficiency, develop a budget and return to school to make a better future for herself and her young son.
Single mom to be, Shayla, is expecting her first child any day. She is grateful for Hannah’s House which has provided her with a home that is “quiet, with meals three, sometimes four times a day,” as well as structure — a peaceful setting and wonderful moral support,” she says smiling while stirring up lunch in a crockpot.
Different, yet similar possibilities for hope — both offered through Hannah’s House.
Located in Mishawaka, Hannah’s House is a Catholic-Christian agency offering a continuum of services for pregnant and parenting single women facing homelessness. Its maternity home offers stability, including shelter and programming for up to seven pregnant women at a time. While living in this highly structured environment, women set goals related to their physical, emotional and spiritual health and pursue education/employment. With staff support, they prepare for the demands of single-parenting or make the courageous choice to place their baby for adoption. Moms-to-be have regular chores, help plan and cook meals and are required to attend church. Mornings begin with a devotional time and evening meals include grace led by the resident who prepared the meal. Women may come to Hannah’s House at any point in their pregnancy and stay for the first few months after giving birth. Those with jobs and child care in place may transition afterwards to the unstaffed Killilea Home just across the street to put into practice their new self-sufficiency skills.
Ongoing family activities are offered for former residents, their children and involved dads. Twice weekly, former residents can participate in the “Learn and Earn” program where they earn points based on their accomplishments, including employment, education and in-house parenting education. Women can then use these points to shop in the Hannah’s House “store” which include such items as baby clothing and equipment, household items, paper goods, books and toys.
The Bridge of Hope mentoring program isn’t a location or building, but rather a long-term, three-way partnership between a single mother, a church mentoring team and a social worker. Women applying to the program make a substantial commitment of time and energy — agreeing to allow the program’s social worker and mentors into their lives and to live holistically, without alcohol or drugs. Family Resource Coordinator Kristi Kubicki, MSW, works individually with each woman to develop a budget, find affordable housing and pursue education and employment goals. Participants also receive rental assistance on a decreasing basis, for a portion of their 18-24 months in the program.
At the heart of this program is the opportunity to form life-changing friendships with a team of eight to 12 specially trained mentors from a local church. These caring friends are simply “there” for the woman — whether she needs a shoulder to cry on or someone to celebrate with. Moms and their mentors meet regularly, both individually and at Bridge of Hope group events.
Raina is looking forward especially to attending college — something she regrets missing when working constantly while raising her other two grown children. She will begin attending Ivy Tech in August and plans to later apply to Indiana University-South Bend. She wants to study Interior Design and Mass Communications. Having been told she has a gift with the written and spoken word, she is anxious to develop these skills.
For more information, call 574-254-7271 or visit www.MaternityHomeWithAHeart.org.
Support comes in various ways …
Women of Hope luncheon and silent auction
Wednesday, May 11, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Windsor Park Conference Center. WNDU’s Tricia Sloma will be honored; guest speaker is Lou Nanni, V.P. of University Relations, University of Notre Dame. Tickets are $45.
100 Women of Hope
Bridge of Hope at Hannah’s House is seeking 100 special women to celebrate. Your nomination and $100 gift recognizes a relative, friend or co-worker who has brought hope to your life or the lives of others. Nominees will be recognized at the Women of Hope luncheon and Hannah’s House newsletter and receive a special card.
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