Iowa: Matching Funds Follow-up
Holy Spirit Parish (below) was the recipient of Matching Funds. For the past few years it has hosted a flea market. “It has become a very popular event for us,” says Mary Lou Baal, the Director of Administrative Services at the Holy Spirit Parish. The flea market was held at one of their three churches, Holy Trinity Church. Mary Lou added, “We see it not only as a fundraiser, but also kind of a community event.” When talking about the community’s participation in the flea market, Mary Lou says with a chuckle, “People love it...it is a chance for us to clean out our closets.” They held another flea market event in April. The funds were used for concrete repair.
Mary’s Inn Maternity Home opened its doors to single, pregnant mothers and their babies on June 15, 2015. Since then, a total of 87 girls, healthcare professionals, and family members have inquired with the home.
To help with expenses, St. Francis 774, Rickardsville, Iowa hosted a Matching Funds steak fry. The steak fry was held at The Barn, a local restaurant in Iowa, and 161 people attended. They raised $3,000 to donate to Mary’s Inn, which covered various expenses for the house and girls.
“We saw the value and wanted to do a fundraiser for them,” said St. Francis 774 Treasurer Gin Wilgenbusch, who coordinated the event.
Colleen Pasnik, the Director and one of the founders of Mary’s Inn, said that there’s a need for a home like this. Mary’s Inn is dedicated to the physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of the women and babies that live in the home.
Mary’s Inn welcomed its first girl on July 14, 2015. She found the home on Facebook! “We are trying to get the word out however we can,” Colleen said. “Yesterday I talked to a group of OB nurses. I’ve talked to the OB doctors, churches, Rotaries and Sertomas, and at chili luncheons and card clubs. I talk to everybody!” Colleen exclaimed.
Something unique about this home is that it accepts a woman of any age, if she is an Iowa resident. Otherwise, the woman must be 18 years of age or older. Colleen said, “We also just recently expanded the populations that [we] serve.” This expansion includes girls who have a newborn or child up to two years old.
When a girl moves in, she receives a happiness journal in which she records her progress and reflects on herself. Each girl is required to set 10 different goals pertaining to life skills, such as housing, childcare, finance and employment. (Throughout their stay, Colleen follows up with them to ensure they’re progressing and learning, and she’ll answer any questions she can.)
After the orientation topics are covered, the girls choose what types of life skills they want to focus on. Additionally, each girl is matched with a Gabriel Angel, someone who mentors her throughout her pregnancy, providing spiritual guidance and support.
“We try to give her all the support that she is going to need and connections to the different things in the community,” said Colleen.
Once a week, a speaker visits the home to teach the girls basic skills such as budgeting, healthy relationships, and conflict resolution.
The girls are encouraged to grow spiritually by having 10 minutes a day of prayer. There is a chapel inside the house for the girls to pray and participate in silent meditation.
Colleen reflects, still in awe, on the moment in which Mary’s Inn, supported only through donations and gifts, bought a house. In November of 2014, a local couple loaned Mary’s Inn $200,000 so the founders could purchase a house. During its open house, this couple toured the home. Collen explained, “That night they called and said, ‘We want to change that loan to a gift.’” The couple generously forgave the loan.
“The community has been outstanding. Again, it is just God saying, ‘I’ll provide, I’ll provide, just keep going,’” Colleen said.
“Every time we got some place, a door would open, so [we would] get to another one, and a door would open. So, we just kept walking through,” Colleen says, metaphorically. Now, in a quiet, residential neighborhood in Dubuque, Iowa, you’ll find Colleen and the girls enjoying dinner together every night.
Above: A bedroom (above) and the chapel (below) at Mary's Inn Maternity Home.
Articles by Brittany Demendi.