Pregnant mothers have new safe, secure home

By Joyce Duriga | Editor
Sunday, June 5, 2011

Pregnant mothers have new safe, secure home

Heather's House will provide clients and their babies a residential environment where they can stay for up to two years and take education and life-skills classes. (Karen Callaway / Catholic New World)
Msgr. Michael Boland of Catholic Charities and Auxiliary Bishop Francis Kane bless Heather's House during the May 20 dedication of the new facility on the Maryville campus in Des Plaines. (Karen Callaway / Catholic New World)

Many times when pregnant women turn to Aid for Women for help, housing is a major worry for them. Sometimes the women are homeless or in danger of being kicked out of their homes if they have their babies.

Aid for Women, founded upon the Catholic Church’s pro-life teaching, now has a place of its own to offer the women shelter and security so they can have their children. It’s called Heather’s House and is located on the campus of Maryville in Des Plaines.

Heather’s House, named for the wife of Aid for Women founder Deacon Tom Bresler, will begin housing expectant mothers in need of shelter on July 1. The home can accommodate about six women and will offer a two-year program aimed at creating “independent and self-sufficient mothers,” said Frances Jimenez, Heather’s House project manager. “It’s really for those who have no other option,” she said.

In addition to dorm-style rooms for residents and staff, Heather’s House has a chapel, offices, kitchen, dining room, laundry room and play room. While living in the house, the mothers who aren’t high school graduates will take classes to earn their GEDs. All will go to doctor visits and take parenting and life-skills classes.

There is also a “baby boutique” filled with donated supplies such as children’s clothing, bottles, diapers and toys. By participating in various aspects of the program, the mothers will earn points to redeem for items in the boutique to take with them when they leave Heather’s House.

While the plans for Heather’s House came together within a matter of months, the desire for a residential facility has been a goal of Aid for Women’s board of directors for some time, said Mary Anne Goldberg, a long-time board member.

“It’s been a missing piece in our ministry for so many years,” Goldberg said. “It’s been more than a dream. It’s been a prayer.”

Before opening Heather’s House, Aid for Women researched other homes for expectant mothers around the country to find the best model to build upon.

“We are borrowing from those who have walked this ground before us,” Goldberg said.

Aid for Women began in 1978 to help those in difficult pregnancy situations and to promote alternatives to abortion, the value of chastity and the importance of motherhood. They provide counseling, education, mentoring and referral services to thousands of women in the Chicago area each year.