On a holy night long ago, Mary, heavy with child but with no place to stay, was given shelter in a crude shed. Her betrothed took care of her as she gave birth and laid the baby in a fresh straw bed, with wondering animals standing sentinel.
Today, homeless and pregnant women are cared for in the loving arms of a few compassionate strangers who have opened maternity homes for those with no other options.
In 2013, Stasia Roth set out to establish A Mother’s Hope residential maternity and parenting program. Following much prayer, hard work, assiduous research and community support, A Mother’s Hope welcomed its first resident in October 2018.
“Our home allows for eight women and their babies to live here simultaneously,” said Roth. “In our first year, we averaged six women and two babies at a time. Thus far, our residents have been as young as 19 and up to 38 in age.”
The women remain in the program on average five to six months. The shelter encourages each woman to remain in the program through the birth of her baby and for a brief time after, as she transitions into her own housing, explained Roth.
“A Mother’s Hope is fully staffed 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, including holidays,” said Roth. “Our trained staff is our most important resource and is available at all hours of the day to offer support and guidance to our residents.”
While the mothers who stay in the Fort Wayne maternity home are cared for, they also go through programs to learn how to make healthy choices for themselves and their unborn babies. Once they graduate to the transitional home, they are expected to find work or go to school, find child care and meet with mentoring staff.
Every resident of A Mother’s Hope has a unique story to tell, said Roth.
She remembered a young woman named Julie, who was pregnant and very scared.
“Julie had lived with her grandparents due to her mother’s ongoing struggle with substance abuse. She walked to us on a very cold day and once here, battled depression and anxiety.
“She prayed to God through writing in a pink journal with Joshua 1:9 on the front: ‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’
“Today Julie and her baby are living in a two-bedroom apartment and she is working. She recently wrote this to her baby: ‘I thank you for choosing me to come through me unto life to be a beautiful reflection of his grace. For I know that a gift so great is only one God could create and I’m reminded of that every time I see your face!’ We could not be more proud of this young woman!”
The Rose Home is a Christian nonprofit transitional living home in Fort Wayne for women who are recovering from drug and alcohol addictions.
According to Deb Burton, director of Rose Home Inc. – “A Home of Love and Recovery” – in Fort Wayne, their program takes six months to complete. Most of their residents will stay the entire six months or longer, if needed.
“Because of our work with the court system and DCS, our clients must be 18 years of age and older,” said Burton. “We offer 10 beds, public transportation, 24/7 staffing, ISNAP approval and access to agencies to help with employment, counseling and spiritual growth.”
Burton recalled a woman referred to Rose Home through a former client. She was battling an addiction to alcohol and drugs. “I accepted her, and we found out she was pregnant,” said Burton. “Shortly after admission a longtime friend of hers overdosed and passed away. I was afraid that there were too many stressors and not enough positives to get this client to the other side of addiction. Not only did she work her way through it, but God saw to it that she had a healthy baby boy. She asked me to be in the delivery room.
“That is the miracle of recovery. Not only for her, but for me as well. They are still a part of our Rose Home family. We see them on a regular basis as they stop by the house for visits.”
Hannah’s House, a maternity shelter in Mishawaka serves on average about 15 women in a year’s time, according to Susan Frucci, director of finance.
The clients of Hannah’s House are pregnant and homeless, often couch-surfing, according to Judy Harder, director of residential care. “Many have had drug addictions and have no source of income. Very few are in a relationship with the father of the baby. They are definitely in need of food and shelter.”
Harder recalls, in particular, a resident named Linda who sought the services of Hannah’s House and “stole everyone’s heart.”
“Her stay lasted for 11 months in our maternity home. She was supported by her grandma, who lived in an apartment but could not have anyone else live with her, so someone suggested they try Hannah’s House. Linda had a part-time job cleaning a few hours each day. Every day she rode the bus to her job and did not complain.
“She ended up losing that job, and we were able to enroll her in a retail program at Goodwill which she completed. While here, her faith grew through Bible studies and devotions. Her time-management skills and household-management skills improved tremendously. She took good care of her baby girl and when asked what she had learned here, she listed talking out her problems, learning to live with other women and that other people’s unkind words are not who she is.”
“The women who come to Hannah’s House are heroines,” Harder said. “They often come alone, with no support outside of Hannah’s House. We empower pregnant women facing homelessness to begin a transformation of their lives.”
Deb Burton, director
A Mother’s Hope
Stasia Roth, executive director
Susan Frucci, executive director
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