Jennifer Barton
August 10, 2020 // Diocese

Volunteers put pro-life beliefs into action for home

Jennifer Barton

When God lays an idea on a person’s heart, He often provides the manpower to see the task to completion. This was and continues to be the case for A Mother’s Hope in Fort Wayne, a transitional home for pregnant women who find themselves homeless.

A Mother’s Hope opened in 2018 to its first residents, but began three years prior based on a need that Stasia Roth saw in the community.

When she felt God calling her to establish a home in Fort Wayne similar to Hannah’s House in Mishawaka, Roth said she felt unworthy and overwhelmed. After speaking to homeless shelters and crisis pregnancy centers, she realized how desperate was the need for such a home in the Fort Wayne area.

Provided by Stasia Roth
The operation of A Mother’s Hope house in Fort Wayne relies heavily on volunteers. Among the individuals who donate their time to support the critical resource for homeless mothers-to-be are members of a small faith community from St. Vincent de Paul Parish, who beautify the exterior of the house each year with flowers, shrubs and mulch.

“Part of what I had to learn was how important this was to Him. He showed me how much He loved every single woman who would ever be here. And He wanted this so they would know how loved they were.”

Roth also knew she needed help — not only to make the vision a reality, but to keep it going. In the beginning, a board of “like-minded people who wanted to work hard to get this started” – all volunteers – began the process of finding a suitable house and preparing it to welcome women and babies. Roth said the renovation of the house was “the largest volunteer project we’ve ever done,” but that God provided the laborers. The generosity of companies such as Shambaugh and Son and Hagerman Construction turned the 1950s-era structure into a modern, comfortable home for the residents.

Numerous other businesses and individuals also have given of themselves to help save mothers as well as babies. “Really, the community just wrapped its arms around it and ran with it,” said Terri Ferro, volunteer at A Mother’s Hope.

The need for help continues. Today, Pelkington and Sons concrete contractors takes care of snow removal in the winter, a daunting task considering the property’s long, narrow gravel driveway. In the summer, Bruce Cadwell helps maintain the grounds.

Cadwell, a 41-year member of Knights of Columbus Council No. 11353 at St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Fort Wayne, saw A Mother’s Hope as “a perfect fit” for the pro-life values espoused by the Knights. He became a liaison between Roth and the council. As facilities manager for St. Vincent, Cadwell had permission to use the church’s equipment to mow the home’s lawn, a task he has continued since his retirement. The job was made easier with a zero-turn lawnmower donated specifically for this use.

He shared how he and his fellow Knights have also helped move residents to new apartments after the birth of their children and prayed over them afterward.

“Without hesitation, (Roth) can call on us; we have a whole group of people who support her,” he said. In the council’s 26-year history, Cadwell stated, “we have had the most interest in members wanting to serve this organization than any other.” The council was awarded the Mother’s Hope Diamond Award last year for volunteer service.

Inside the house, Ferro helps tend to the material needs of the residents. She became interested in the apostolate four years ago when she heard Roth talk about her vision.

“When I heard her speak, it just touched my heart … I said right then that I would keep in touch and volunteer when they were ready.”

She eventually created the Hope Boutique, a space where the mothers can use points they earn through duties and classes on needed baby items. Ferro took what used to be the garage and cleaned it up, added lighting and shelving and put out a call for donations, which came pouring in. She now maintains the boutique, buys pillows for the mothers and assists with the A Mother’s Hope annual gala fundraising event.

Another group from St. Vincent de Paul Parish, called Micah 6:8, informally adopted the organization. Ferro is a member of the group, and said it started as a small Christian community and morphed into a Bible study.

Initial renovation of A Mother’s Hope was accomplished in 2018 through the generosity of two local construction companies, who turned the 1950s-era structure into a modern, comfortable home for the residents. Volunteerism and donations continue to sustain the critical community pregnancy resource.

The women in the group are given a small stipend from the annual budget for A Mother’s Hope to spend on flowers to beautify the yard. “Then they usually blow the budget and end up covering the rest anyway. They do that every year,” Roth said with a joyful smile. “It makes it homey. It’s supposed to look homey and comfortable.”

Beautifying the property might seem like a small contribution, but for the residents, who may never have had a real home, it can make a tremendous difference. And the volunteers’ giving of their time demonstrates God’s love to the women in need.

Roth is a parishioner of Our Lady of Good Hope, from which she has received much support for her work — particularly from its two priests, Father Mark Gurtner and Father Daniel Whelan. The Life Teen group from Our Lady as well as students from Bishop Dwenger High School often come to assist with yardwork and cleaning or to provide other assistance Roth needs.

Roth emphasized that since faith life is essential in the home, she and the other employees don’t shy away from speaking about Jesus’ love and their devotion to Him. She encourages residents who might have a Christian background to connect with their faith, and she also has built relationships with Protestant churches to meet those needs.

“I know if we’re always asking Him, He will provide what we need. I believe that wholeheartedly. And He always has. Anytime we needed something, it’s always been there,” Roth said. The home is always in need of monetary donations and material goods like children’s board books and toys, but for Roth, prayer is the most crucial need at A Mother’s Hope.

What touches her most deeply are the caring people who wrap the home and its residents in those prayers, particularly during times of spiritual attack. Through a Facebook presence, Roth can also request prayers for a resident and almost immediately obtain intercession for that person.

Ferro remarked on the beauty of the ministry and the aid it provides in giving mothers the confidence to change the course of their lives. “While they’re saving a beautiful baby’s life, they’re making these women feel strong and beautiful and capable.”

A Mother’s Hope does this through classes in everything from baby care to managing finances. Additionally, they provide help and support even as mothers move out and onward. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they were able to provide food boxes to past residents.

“That’s the joy, the mission – helping people, giving them hope,” said Cadwell.

Volunteers are proving the power of one person’s vision when God is behind it. God has brought laborers to Roth’s field; those passionate about defending lives of the unborn and supporting the mothers to choose new lives for themselves and their children.

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