Displaying items by tag: maternity home

4 ways to build community today

home sweet home

Image courtesy NorthWestGifts.com

by Mary Peterson, Housing Consultant

The mothers often arrive to our homes without a social safety net. Many have burned bridges in their relationships, or are coming from a history of deep dysfunction.

In addition to all of the other skills we encourage, such as life skills, educational attainment, and parenting strategies, maternity homes are meant to model and teach relationship. In our example and structures, homes invite the moms into regular, healthy interactions.

Beyond the high-drama, over-sharing, or closed-off habits, we invite the moms to build a network of genuine friendships.

We are inviting them into community.

With that said, the big question becomes "How?" Here's a few practical brainstorms to consider!

1. Direct Traffic

Goal: Use the physical space to encourage people to interact.

  • Put the phone / message boards / calendar in the common area.
  • Put the computer in the common area.
  • Only use the primary entrance (nearest the common area) of the home.
  • Have extra heat and/or air conditioning in the common area.

2. Set the Tone

Goal: From the very first moment she arrives, welcome the mom as a true member in the home.

  • Paint a picture during the intake of belonging, family, and community life.
  • Have welcome baskets or signs.
  • Have the moms complete a roommate agreement to curtail disagreements early.
  • Build a quick welcoming routine that is simple (i.e. over dinner or at the house meeting).
  • Immediately put the mom's name on the chore list, the message board, etc.
  • Give the mom a t-shirt from your home.
  • Have another mom give an "insider" tour of the home.

3. Build Routines

Goal: Build a relational aspect into every part of your structure.

  • Include community-building moments into your house meetings by celebrating achievements of the week, doing a quick moment of personal sharing, or having a chance for discussion on issues that affect everyone.
  • Go on house outings together.
  • Consider a house vacation together—does a donor have a cabin you could use?
  • Build a "goodbye" ritual to honor moms who are leaving.

4. Create a Culture

Goal: Have anyone within the home embrace a culture of belonging.

  • Have the mom make gestures of commitment (i.e. signing her name to the rules, signing an agreement of stay).
  • Develop language that elevates the dignity of the mother.
  • Write down the key points that build a sense of community so that they can be shared.
  • Train your volunteers on the language and culture of building community.
  • Build a structure around the ongoing relationship with the mom.

I know you have more ideas. Share them with me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I would love to hear them!

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'Success' and gospel faithfulness

by Mary Peterson, Housing Consultant

Gregory Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries, wrote a simple yet profound book about his work with gang members, “Tattoos on the Heart”.

It’s an impressive story for a variety of reasons, but the chapter entitled, “Success” speaks to any ministry leader who deeply shares life with people. In it, he writes:

Success and failure, ultimately, have little to do with living the gospel. …Jesus was always too busy being faithful to worry about success. I’m not opposed to success; I just think we should accept it only if it is a by-product of our fidelity. If our primary concern is results, we will choose to work only with those who give us good ones. (p.172, 178)

We are all seeking results for our labors, longing for moms to know profound and lasting transformation in their lives…and many times, we get to see incredible successes. But, not always.

Sometimes, we give without ever knowing the impact we will have. Other times, we watch as women make painfully destructive decisions about their future.

In your work as a maternity home leader, you have been called to be faithful to the task of welcoming the stranger…the women standing at the door in need of a loving place. She may arrive bad-mouthing, attention-seeking, closed-off, or beaten-down.

But, regardless of appearance, she is Christ before you in wonderful disguise. In welcoming her into the embrace of your home and your heart, you are living out the gospel…whether you “succeed” or “fail.”

Heartbeat announces the launch of the National Maternity Housing Coalition (NMHC).

nmhc finalbw
Established on June 19, 2012 by a small representation of homes, the NMHC is now launching and recruiting membership.

Over 330 homes exist in the US!  Our goal is to unify the work of homes across the country so that we can strengthen our programs and better communicate the important role that maternity housing programs play in supporting pregnant women.

Key activities:

  • Develop collective tools for people hoping to start a maternity housing programs;
  • Support the conferences of Heartbeat and the National Christian Housing Coalition;
  • Provide emotional and spiritual support to leaders of maternity housing programs;
  • Promote the work of maternity housing programs broadly, within the life.

NMHC’s Mission Statement:  We inspire excellence among maternity housing providers and articulate a collective voice to advance the culture of life and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We do this by providing training and tools, facilitating an exchange of knowledge and experience, and fostering fellowship among members.

“The power of the Coalition is in providing a unified voice to amplify our message of hope to pregnant women who are in need of support,” said Chris Bell, long-time Executive Director of Good Counsel Homes and founding member of the National Maternity Housing Coalition.  “In our work of building a culture of life, we need to leverage our voices.”

When asked about the goal of the Coalition, Mary Peterson, founder of Maggie’s Pace notes, “The work of maternity homes has been around for a long time, but the challenges of women now are quite complicated involving addiction, abuse, trauma, and lack of support.  In order to be more effective in our work, we need to learn from another.”

“What a great win-win situation to be partnering with Heartbeat,” affirmed Gloria Lee.  As a long-term director of Our Lady’s Inn, Gloria has been involved with Heartbeat for many years.  “Heartbeat’s mission of building up the capacity of life-affirming ministries is a perfect fit with the direction of the National Maternity Housing Coalition.”

For additional information, contact:

  • Chris Bell, Good Counsel Homes, (201) 795-0637
  • Gloria Lee, Our Lady’s Inn, (314) 351-4590
  • Mary Peterson, Maggie’s Place, (602) 262-5555
  • Jor-El Godsey, Heartbeat, (614) 885-7577
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