Mother Teresa Maternity Home
Photos by Dante Fontana - © Style Media Group
Gallery: Mother Teresa Maternity Home - April 2014 [6 Images] Click any image to expand.
by Morgan CásarezHaving served as a crisis pregnancy hotline volunteer for more than 20 years, Jane Meuser is all too familiar with the desperation pregnant women in physically, sexually and mentally unstable situations experience. The mother of six says it troubled her to know there were children in her community entering the world under less than ideal circumstances. “Although I love infants, I have learned that I have to love their mothers,” she explains, “so the mother can learn to love herself and her baby.”
In 1998, Lucille Mosbacher, a member of Placerville’s St. Patrick Parish, approached Meuser with a proposal to transform a vacant convent opposite the church into a home for El Dorado County’s pregnant women in need. Meuser poured her enthusiasm and experience into the project and the non-denominational Mother Teresa Maternity Home (MTMH) opened its doors less than a year later.
“[It’s] more than a temporary shelter. We seek to help the women living in the home [put] their lives on a more positive track,” explains MTMH Board President Barbara Goyette. “Otherwise these women would be homeless or in need of other shelter, and the children born would be more likely to be damaged by lack of prenatal care.”
With the help of donations, fund-raisers and grants, MTMH has the ability to serve six women at a time through their child’s first three months. A full-time staff provides 24-hour supervision and encouragement as each soon-to-be and new mother works toward their GED or looks for part-time work. The home offers a completely drug- and alcohol-free environment, and residents are required to participate in counseling and develop a plan for life after their stay.
“Seeing someone complete the home’s program by learning the skills to prepare them for a healthy and stable life is heartwarming to me,” says MTMH Volunteer Board Member Norma Hansler. “Introducing these women to the multi-dimensional services provided by local agencies and programs is a large part of our program.”
Because MTMH doesn’t receive any state or federal funds, its staff must rely entirely on community support to keep the doors open (residents without any source of income receive the maximum 12-month stay free of charge; those receiving income are required to pay a monthly program fee of $200). Hansler and her fellow volunteers say they are grateful for every donation, but there is always a need for further assistance—postage stamps, pre-paid calling cards, and gift cards for local grocery stores and clothing retailers are particularly helpful. Although they are unable to expand their reach at this time, Meuser hopes to one day see the creation of a facility for pregnant teens.
“If a woman in need called, I would encourage her to come to MTMH as soon as possible,” Meuser says. “The sooner she gets started, the better the outcome will be. I have been blessed with this ministry, which is just part of my everyday life.”
Visit motherteresamaternityhome.com for more information.