BELMONT, NORTH CAROLINA, June 23, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In the 17 years since opening its doors, Room at the Inn has provided women in Charlotte, North Carolina with the same services that thousands of pregnancy care centers offer across the country: counseling, baby supplies, adoption referrals, and a residential facility for unwed mothers.
This past Monday, however, the organization broke ground on a project that will be the first of its kind in the nation: a maternity home for pregnant college students, located adjacent to the campus of Belmont Abbey College.
According to Room at the Inn Executive Director Jeannie Wray, while there are some colleges that offer dorms for pregnant and parenting students, “this is the first time a totally independent entity has built and will run a facility on a college campus for this purpose.”
After an extensive self-study and research process the board of directors for Room at the Inn “decided that the college population was essentially underserved as far as maternity and after-care services,” Wray told LifeSiteNews.com
Crucial in coming to this decision was a report from Feminists for Life of America. The organization had polled students at 400 U.S. colleges and universities, and found that the vast majority reported very few resources on their campus for pregnant and parenting students.
The study may help explain why, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, up to 71% of post-abortive women say that they had an abortion because having a child would interfere with their education or career.
Providentially, Abbott Placid Solari of Belmont Abbey, which sits adjacent to Belmont Abbey College, was a member of Room at the Inn’s board. The monastery donated four acres for the project.
Without this donation, the project would have been cost prohibitive, says Wray.
Those four acres will be home to a 10,000 square foot facility, with two residential wings – one for pregnant women, and one for young mothers and their babies. The building will be equipped for 15 mothers, 15 infants, and 8 toddlers. A private room and bathroom will be provided to each woman, with a shared kitchen, laundry room, and dining room.
Participants in the program will be required to enroll in school, although they do not have to attend Belmont Abbey College. They can commute to another school, or take classes at Belmont for credit elsewhere.
According to a Room at the Inn press release, the program will also provide its own classes in life skills, parenting, cooking, meal planning, financial planning and a non-denominational Bible study.
“Many of the young women we see are beaten down, hopeless, abandoned and have no earthly idea how they are going to put one foot in front of the other – they’re just looking for the light,” said Wray. “Room At The Inn can offer them help, hope and possibilities, so by the time they leave, they are prepared for their lives, more mature and eligible to come to our outreach program for as long as they like.”
While the facility will be operated independently of the school, Wray says that they are working with the school and hope that the mothers who live at their facility will be able to integrate into the campus community as much as possible.
College President Bill Thierfelder called the project “a natural extension of pro-life philosophy,” according to the Charlotte Observer.
“It’s putting your money where your mouth is,” he told the news service. “You’re not just talking philosophy anymore. This is something real. You need to meet people where they are and help them to take the next good step.”