Notre Dame’s Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO) applies scientific evaluation methods to better understand and unleash effective poverty interventions. LEO works side-by-side with our service provider partners at no cost to design and implement a research approach that’s both rigorous and respectful of every person it involves.
LEO has partnered with five homes to launch a randomized controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate the impact of emergency maternity housing. As a byproduct of participating in the study, homes receive grant money, weekly and direct support (both virtual and on-site) and access to the data as they go that can help with fundraising. Limited capacity of the maternity homes involved in the study keeps them from providing every mother in the region they serve with a placement into the maternity home and access to services. To allocate beds fairly, the LEO research team introduced a lottery for open beds. Researchers then compare those who do not receive a bed to those who do receive a bed and the home’s services over time. The outcomes that the research team is tracking include the mother’s custody of the new baby, mother’s well-being, housing stability, employment and education as well as well-being of the new baby, through a research approach that’s both rigorous and respectful of every person it involves.
Ideal candidates for this partnership are committed to implementing the already operating RCT at their site and must meet the following criteria:
Our research is free. You continue to offer services. We pay for research. It’s pretty brave to be willing to test what you do. We don’t want money to be a barrier to learning. You got into this work to make a difference. Impact starts with knowing. We want to support that vision you have for your life and your work. More evidence means more money. Philanthropists are asking more questions about organizational impact. Being able to answer these questions helps you raise money to support your mission. A partnership with LEO allows you to be a better equipped leader and make informed decisions about your program like where to grow or invest. LEO also provides weekly and direct support (virtual and on-site). LEO research is third-party validation of your work and carries the trust of the Notre Dame brand.
As most of you know, the Maternity Housing Coalition is powered by Heartbeat International to strengthen maternity homes in various stages of development ranging from start-ups to well-established homes. But did you know that the MHC is intentionally guided by a Leadership Council? The Council is made up of maternity housing leaders with diverse representations of staffing models, programs, interdenominational faith practices, and sizes of housing organizations. This generous body of leaders volunteer their experiences and insight to serve the well-being of affiliated maternity housing programs across the country by providing input, guidance, and training opportunities.
Before coming to Hannah’s Home Vicki was a teacher that specialized in teaching reading to kids with dyslexia. When she was going through a personally challenging time of life, Jesus became very real to her and taught her that He was always there and loved her. As she learned more about Him, and His work of salvation and how that affected her life, God called her to serve at Hannah’s Home on the Board of Directors. It wasn't long before she realized that as a single mom God was calling her to use her gifts to serve women who were hurting and broken like herself. She serves at HH because God has called her there and she seeks to live her life by doing what He asks of her. She loves each of the women as if they are her own children. The relationships that are formed give her hope and keep her going.
Amber has a degree in Social Work and has been serving for 10+ years in the US and internationally in human resources and service projects. Her prior work experiences have developed her current skill sets to work with people across demographics, relationally and administratively. Amber’s role within ESTHER Homes is not only administrative, but she works and lives with the families to map out and research different resource options that best meet their direct needs.
Peggy Forrest has served as President of Our Lady’s Inn since 2011; and in 2019 was named President & Chief Executive Officer. In this leadership role she oversees all executive functions to include administration, development, finance, human resources, and in conjunction with the Board - strategic planning. Peggy has more than thirty years of business experience in the corporate environment, demonstrating excellence in executive leadership.
Peggy has been a lifelong pro-life advocate, participating in prayer and advocacy efforts for the unborn which includes presenting testimony before Missouri State Legislative committees considering pro-life legislation. With Peggy at the helm, Our Lady’s Inn took the lead in filing a lawsuit against the City of St. Louis following its enactment of “abortion sanctuary city” ordinances; the City was defeated in federal court. Since her tenure at Our Lady’s Inn began, she has been instrumental in the opening of a number of maternity homes in Missouri and surrounding states.
Leona Bicknese has been working with women in crisis since 1998. She says one of the major blessings in her life has been serving as director of three maternity homes. She has also served as Chief of Operations of a PRC. She earned a BS in Business, an MBA and a Doctor of Biblical Studies in Biblical Counseling. Leona currently serves as President/CEO of Road 2 Hope Maternity Home in Beaverton, OR. She is blessed to serve on the leadership teams of the Maternity Housing Coalition and the Colson Center for Christian Worldview - Portland Cohort.
Sue Baumgarten lives in Houston, Texas where she has been part of the pregnancy help movement since the early 90’s. Introduced through her church to LifeHouse of Houston (a maternity housing ministry), she has volunteered, served on and chaired the board of directors, lived in the home as house mom (with her family), and led the ministry as Executive Director. Sue currently serves on their board as the Development Chair.
She also serves nationally on the Maternity Housing Coalition’s Leadership Council (2019-present) and The National Christian Housing Conference Leadership Team (2017-present).
Beckie Pérez is wife of Mike and mother to four children. A San Diego native, Beckie is the co-founder of the 29:Eleven Maternity Home (along with her husband) which opened in 2017. In addition to serving as 29:Eleven’s Executive Director, Beckie also serves on the Leadership Council of the Maternity Housing Coalition. Of her professional achievements which include a B.A., M.A. and California Teaching Credential, Beckie is most proud of her designation as a Life Affirming Specialist (LAS) through Heartbeat International.
Suzanne Burns, MS, CFTP founded and leads a thriving maternity home in Tennessee. This home has served over 120 mothers and their children through residential services and an additional 500 families through its non-residential program. Suzanne and her team also manage a job training program, where clients are employed while they gain hands-on, practical job skills.
Suzanne now trains compassionate, overwhelmed kingdom leaders to start maternity homes in their own communities. Suzanne has trained hundreds of teams to implement practical tools to transform the lives of mothers in crisis.
There has been quite a bit of buzz around this topic since the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Ministries across the country have found themselves on vacillating ends of the spectrum between empty and full houses with burgeoning waiting lists. So why the variance?
I recently spoke with homes from different regions of the country, each with varied programming models, ministry models, and eligibility criteria. I found that the homes with low occupancy rates (For the purposes of this writing, “low” will be less than 25%) repeatedly described their experiences of receiving calls from women in the community inquiring about their home or even interviewing some women, however, these women did not meet the criteria to be eligible to move into the home. Reasons ranged from past or current drug use, criminal record, previous pregnancies, previous children removed from care, children currently in care, or perhaps a generally poor attitude. Needless to say, this can be an exhausting daily merry-go-round for ministries.
Many of us serving in maternity housing ministries have found ourselves in similar shoes! The lives of our residents can be complicated and the definition of “success” is admittedly subjective. Using a tool such as the Evaluation Matrix for Maternity Homes, which you will find cost-free in the Heartbeat affiliation tools for maternity homes, can help to provide an objective and quantifiable measure of progress in the lives of residents.
It is important to provide data on a few specific outcomes that are directly related to your mission statement, typically about 3-5 outcomes. Our recommendation is to internally measure a wide variety of indicators (about 10-15) and externally present the selected few. This will help guide the public in awareness of specifically how your mission statement is affecting the community as well as keep you equipped with relevant data about many areas of a resident’s progress to have on hand for conversations with donors.
Great topic of discussion here. First, I’ll share that you are not alone. This is the most common place of exasperation among maternity housing ministries that I hear of on a regular basis! Several factors may play into this, chief among them being our high rate of unemployment nationally at this time. Most communities are facing labor shortages with ministries not being any different.
So, what to do to keep the ship afloat during the storm? While we have a shortage in labor, we ironically do not have a shortage of unpaid labor in most communities! My recommendation is to make the most of this season to build a first-class volunteer program in your ministry. A thriving volunteer program can bolster every aspect of your ministry from recruitment, evangelism, programmatic operations, and especially development/fundraising.
by Valerie Humes, Director of the NMHC
It is a busy season of vision-casting and building, building, building here in the National Maternity Housing Coalition. The NMHC exists to support your housing ministry in fulfilling the mission the Lord has given you with excellence. We are turning up the heat in our zeal to journey with you all year long. The Holy Spirit is calling a greater number of believers to provide homes for women in unplanned pregnancies all over the nation – all over the globe! We’ve been astounded as we’ve watched the spiritual explosion of hearts stirred with a desire to preach the gospel to the nations by opening their homes. We are witnessing the time-tested union of hospitality and evangelism shake communities.
So, what does this mean for you, our fellow Coalition Members? We are building feverishly with you in mind. Over the course of the next year, you can expect to find increased opportunities to directly ask questions and receive answers for your housing ministry, receive free content and helpful tools within the housing specialty all year long, and have a voice which directly shapes our annual in-person training opportunities.
Meet me in a conversation with Mary Peterson on Pregnancy Help Podcast to hear a little bit more about our vision for the maternity housing community! (Click here)
We want to hear from you!
Keep an eye out for fresh content from the NMHC here:
by Mary E Peterson, Housing SpecialistHeartbeat International
I was young and a little crazy when we started the pregnancy help organization. Someone said to me, in jest, "You are just too naïve to realize what you are attempting can't be done." Looking back, they were probably right. But nonetheless, God took me on a wild adventure of organizational development. Within fifteen years, I had the joy of sitting on my couch brainstorming the basics of a vision for a start-up ministry and I also had the joy of ribbon-cutting on our fifth location. For better and for worse, I experienced rapid organizational growth and learned a lot of lessons along the way. Here's a taste:
1) Know your mission. Grow from your mission.
I love a crazy new idea and lots of them were thrown at us -- run a ministry restaurant, start a theater troupe, build a neighborhood of low-income housing for single mothers. All of these captured my attention for a time but ultimately, were set to the side to stay focused on our core mission. Be really good at what you're good at. Be the ministry that the Holy Spirit breathed life into. Let the other stuff go...even if they seem wildly interesting.
2) Balance administrative growth with programmatic growth.
Programmatic growth is the fun stuff and it's the work that grantors and donors get excited about. But it is through building an administrative foundation that programmatic growth is sustained. Sometimes years’ worth of fundraising, staff development, and system building has to be done in order to grow well. If the foundation isn't strong, having the perfect furniture doesn't make sense.
3) Spend time on systems.
Systems are the plumbing to your organization -- getting information where it needs to go so that when you need it, it's there. Without systems, the entire organization experiences stress. Sometimes leaders who are great at big visions aren't great at systems. If that is case, get the right people involved to help build out the systems for your ministry. Growth is always disruptive but less so when strong organizational systems are in place.
4) Be wise and prudent. Be bold and courageous.
I love it when Scriptural ideas seem at odds, and this is a great example. Both statements are absolutely true. Plan, strategize, research, and consider. But also, dream, stretch, act, and step out in faith. Have a Board and staff around you that can do both!
5) Don't get ahead of your team.
The hard part of being a leader of vision is bringing the whole organization along. If you get too far ahead of them, you risk staff frustration, team exhaustion, and organizational strain. My rule of thumb as a leader was to peak ahead a few steps to see what major decisions lay ahead. I would begin to think about those decisions and gather information so that when it was time to consider them, we weren't starting from a blank slate. But your team needs to go on the journey with you -- and you might need to take the pace down to travel together!
Want to talk more about growth related ideas? Join us for a webinar on Growth and Ministry Development July 22, 2021 at Noon (Eastern)!
by Sharisa McDaniel, Transitional Living Program Manager at Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma
The setting of a Maternity Home and Transitional Living offers a unique opportunity to influence the parenting practices of residents and family dynamics for generations to come. At Madonna House and St. Elizabeth Lodge in Tulsa, Oklahoma, team members observe parenting practices that range from healthy and loving to harsh and disconnected. In an effort to positively shape the futures of the families in the programs, the Transitional Living team at Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma regularly examines the environmental influences and program initiatives to promote bonding and connectedness. As the family programming at Madonna House and St. Elizabeth Lodge has developed and evolved, the following adjustments have been made to the environment:
Catholic Charities has also established a Family Enrichment position to pro-actively educate parents on child development and to offer experiences that help to build healthy bonds. With a background of teaching early childhood education for nearly 20 years, Angela Grissom brings her experience and her passion for educating parents to the Family Enrichment role. Residents of Madonna House and St. Elizabeth Lodge meet with Angela every week to participate in parent-child activities and learn positive parenting practices. The Family Enrichment program offers:
With these efforts, mothers report:
The Family Enrichment program at Madonna House and St. Elizabeth Lodge is a pro-active approach to influencing strong bonds within resident families for years to come.
by Peggy Forrest
Most of us would agree that any organization’s ability to successfully carry out its mission is tied to the quality of its leadership. Be that a President, CEO, or Executive Director - the effectiveness of that person’s leadership, makes a difference. So, it’s easy to understand why it is mission critical to ensure the next leader will be the correct one, and the transition from one leader to the next will be as smooth as possible. This is especially true in maternity housing because of the deeply personal nature of the work. Leadership transition is critically important, and having a plan guiding that effort will help reduce the stresses which accompany such a transition. Succession planning takes focus and effort. It involves the Board of Directors working in partnership with the current leader.
A succession plan has three main goals:
A succession plan contemplates:
A succession plan should include:
Regardless of the age of your Agency, or the tenure of your leader, succession planning may be a timely and important topic to address during your Agency’s next strategic planning efforts.
Listen in to a podcast from Mary Peterson and Emily Prins on the same topic of succession planning!
Heartbeat International has additional information related to succession planning in our Governing Essentials Manual. Click here to find out more.
by Mary Peterson, Housing SpecialistHeartbeat International
My young nieces are on a chicken kick. They have hatched eggs, studied the various chicken breeds, and dreamt about being chicken farmers. When I catch them on the phone, chirping sounds fill the background. With a little chick cupped in their hands, they rattle on and on about this chicken's unique features, filled with stories of how cute it is now and how many eggs it will lay in the future.
Their love is a testimony to new life and springtime. It is simple and good.
The egg is a symbol of Easter, often found in religious artwork to indicate life springing forth from the darkness of the tomb. That symbolism has spilled over into the egg-dyeing, egg-hunting, and chocolate egg-eating traditions that we associate with Easter.
And in some ways, the egg echos the work of maternity housing. The women we serve often arrive trapped in the darkness of their lives but literally filled with life and possibility. We fuss to create a little corner that is safe and cozy for them; we fluff and fill their space with items to communicate excitement about their presence. We attempt to keep that mom in the warmth of a lived Christian experience and do regular check-ins to see how things are going.
We hope and pray in anticipation that new life will spring forth. We trust that renewal and redemption is possible in her life, just as we seek it in our own life. We accompany her as she awaits the new life that she carries and serve as a model of rejoicing and celebrating in the preciousness of that life.
May your egg traditions help you to remember the joy of life springing forth. May this season of Easter and spring and renewal and possibility have an impact on your life. May people look at the way that you love within your work and be inspired. May our hearts be simple and good!
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