FREDERICKSBURG, VA, July 17, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Desperate mothers in crisis pregnancies who are faced with the prospect of homelessness, unemployment and abuse, are finding Mary’s Shelter in Fredericksburg, VA, to be more of a sanctuary than a mere shelter, as the name would seem to imply.
A living challenge to the notion that pro-lifers care only about babies before they’re born, volunteers and supporters of Mary’s Shelter take care of women and their children before, during and after birth.
Reflecting on her arrival at one of the organization’s homes, a mother in a promotional video for the shelter describes her surprise at arriving in a beautiful home rather than the typical no-frills shelter. “That is not a shelter! I’ve never seen anything like this!” she says.
She isn’t the only one impressed with the organization. Over 100 women have found safe haven, comfort and support with Mary’s Shelter in the merely 7 ½ years it has been in Fredericksburg.
“We want our moms to be inspired,” said Kathleen Wilson of Mary’s Shelter. “They walk into the homes and break down crying – this is not what they thought of when deciding to move into a shelter.”
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“There are pillows on the couches, pictures on the wall; we provide cozy homes for them.”
When a small group of women, inspired by other Mary’s Shelters throughout the country, began considering starting their own similar project in their local community, it wasn’t long before word about their intentions spread and they received their first call.
A man from China was facing the imminent expiration of his work visa and his wife was pregnant. They knew the child was likely to be killed by forced abortion if his wife was to return with him.
Though Mary’s Shelter was not yet a formalized organization and hadn’t yet raised a cent, by the end of that weekend, enough money had been raised, mostly through local churches, to house and take care of the pregnant mom and her children.
Mary’s Shelter has received generous support ever since and has expanded to four shared homes in downtown Fredericksburg with a day care and another home soon to open. Churches and religious orders are among the sponsors who support the women in the shelter. And, a generous property owner supports the organization by providing low rent for the homes in which the women and their children live.
Unlike other shelters that limit stays to 30-90 days even for pregnant women, mothers and their children can stay in a Mary’s Shelter home for up to two years while they get back on their feet and build up an education and employment background by which they can support themselves and their children.
“Things are set up for you to succeed,” says one of the grateful mothers in the video.
Mothers living in Mary’s Shelter homes abide by a code of conduct and attend classes every Monday night and two Saturdays a month. They participate in book clubs, knitting and parenting classes, are encouraged to go to school, and are provided volunteer tutors.
“Every one of them who has taken the GED passed,” said Wilson. “We have a 100% success rate.”
Additionally, Mary’s Shelter provides doulas to work with the mothers throughout their pregnancies.
House mothers check on the women every day to make sure their standards are being lived up to, including keeping the houses clean and working toward going back to school.
“It’s relieving,” says one of the mothers in the promotional video, “because as a woman being pregnant and thinking about where am I going to sleep or how am I going to take care of my children or just yourself, it’s a good program.”
“I feel like I’m given an opportunity to do something with myself so I can get on my feet to take care of my kids.”