June 17, 2024 // Bishop

Local Family’s Story Featured at Women’s Care Center Bingo

As announced during St. Joseph County’s 10th annual Luxury Bingo Night, Women’s Care Center plays a part in the lives of one out of every two babies born in the county.

At least one of those children affected by the organization, now grown, was present at the event, along with his mother, who had chosen life for her child.

Women’s Care Center, the largest pregnancy resource center in the United States, was founded in 1984 in a little blue house in South Bend. Now, there are 36 centers in 12 states that have provided free pregnancy and parenting resources to hundreds of thousands of women. Every year, the donor-funded organization hosts fundraising events such as luxury bingo. The bingo event in St. Joseph County on Wednesday, June 5, benefitted the centers located in the county, with all donations staying in the local community.

The activity of the evening was several bingo games, with prizes ranging from a weekend in Chicago to a local brewery and bar tour. The evening also included a live auction, an opportunity for attendees to pledge donations, and a presentation about the Kostielney family.

Provided by the Kostielney family
The Kostielney family and Bishop Rhoades attend the Women’s Care Center Luxury Bingo event on Wednesday, June 5. From left to right are Kevin Fink, Abby Fink, Brooke Kostielney, Joy Kostielney, Bishop Rhoades, Andy Kostielney, Reid Pittard, Tommy Kostielney, and Madelyn Pittard.

In 1989, Joy Kostielney had just finished her junior year of high school when she found out she was pregnant. She and her now-husband, Andy Kostielney, went to Women’s Care Center, not knowing where else to go.

“I was scared, I was embarrassed,” Joy remembered. “But from the moment we stepped into Women’s Care Center, we were treated with nothing but respect and kindness.”

Joy’s baby was Tommy Kostielney, now a theology and English teacher at Saint Joseph High School, and this year’s winner of the school’s Glenn Rousey Service and Dedication Award. Tommy was present at the bingo event along with his parents, his wife, and his two younger sisters, Abby Fink and Madelyn Pittard, and their spouses. He spoke briefly at the event, mentioning that donors aren’t always able to hear from the babies saved by Women’s Care Center.

Provided by the Kostielney family

“As one of those babies … I just want to take the opportunity to thank you for every cent you’ve donated, every prayer you’ve said,” Tommy said.

He also expressed gratitude to his mother. “Thank you, Mom,” he told her. “You’ve made it very easy to imagine what Mary was like.”

Tommy told Today’s Catholic that the legacy of life in his family goes back even further. His grandmother, Joannie, was 40 years old when she became pregnant with Joy, the youngest of 8 children. Due to worries about Joannie’s health, her doctor refused to give her care unless she opted for an abortion. Joannie decided instead to go ahead and have her baby. “I have to imagine that this experience helped form my mother from a young age, and that this gave my grandmother even more strength to better help my mom when she got pregnant with me,” Tommy said.

Abby Fink, the second Kostielney child after Tommy and also a theology teacher at Saint Joseph High School, said the bingo evening was a “moving experience for our entire family.”

“Seeing the visible support and love from the Women’s Care Center and larger Michiana community throughout this entire process was special,” Fink said. “Our mom does not love the spotlight, preferring instead to be behind the scenes, but her story has touched the lives of so many people, and we are grateful to have the opportunity to celebrate her courage and sacrificial love.”

Photos by Kasia Balsbaugh
Hundreds gather to support Women’s Care Center at their Tenth Annual Luxury Bingo night.

Hundreds of people were present for the event this year, including first-time attendees David and Mary Richter, who sponsored a table at the event. Mary Richter called the event “so well done” and “incredible,” from the catering to the Kostielneys’ story. She and her husband have been helping to support the Women’s Care Center for a few years now – their grade school-aged children have even run a lemonade stand benefitting the center.

“I do believe that one of God’s greatest gifts to each of us is our family,” Mary Richter said. “To support expectant mothers and give them what they need to experience God’s greatest gifts and to give a family what they need to love one another and support one another is a cause that I’m honored to be a part of.”

Women’s Care Center continues to expand, opening a new facility in Mishawaka this fall. Donations are needed more than ever, local executive outreach director Katherine Kelly told attendees.

As Kelly said, “It always starts with one: one woman at a time, and one person like you who helps her.”

Visit womenscarecenter.org to learn more and to donate.

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