A place for young mothers when there is no other place

Five months ago, A.K. delivered a premature child, Deslyn O. Esther. The doctors called her birth “a miracle.”

A woman in her 30s, A.K. was dealing with a high-risk pregnancy.

She had left her home in Pennsylvania and an abusive relationship and came to Good Counsel Home, a place for homeless, pregnant women. It is located in a former convent in Riverside.

“I give God all the glory,” A.K. said. “He worked through (the Good Counsel staff), to help my baby’s life.”

At the same time, she said, the staff “saved my life, and helped me regain my strength, my self-esteem, and helped me live a normal life.”

Today, A.K. is living in another state with her child and works in healthcare.

The home is “a house of God,” she said.

The “house of God” recently celebrated its first anniversary. During the past 12 months, it has helped welcome 12 babies to the world, including Deslyn.

A non-profit organization run solely by donations, Good Counsel Home-South Jersey is staffed with a director, resident assistants and a case manager. The residence helps women learn such essentials as budgeting and planning; making meals; good parenting; and how to find employment, with effective job search strategies and interview techniques.

A Good Counsel mom may live in a home throughout her pregnancy, and then up to a year (sometimes more) after the birth of her baby. All mothers share household responsibilities like cooking, cleaning and other chores.

Prospective residents come to Good Counsel Home through referrals from local social service agencies as well as through the agency’s main helpline that is responsible for screening and placement of clients.

Begun in 1985 by Christopher Bell and Father Benedict Groeschel, leaders of the pro-life movement, Good Counsel currently has five homes in New York, besides the Riverside location.

On Saturday, May 19, Good Counsel Home-South Jersey will hold five simultaneous walk-a-thons in the dioceses of Camden and Trenton to benefit its home in Riverside. The five walk-a-thon locations are Memorial Park, 2300 Block, Lenola Rd., Cinnaminson; Freedom Park, Union St., Medford; Washington Lake Park, 647 Hurfville-Cross Keys Road, Sewell; Wildwood Boardwalk, E. Burk Avenue and Boardwalk, Wildwood; and Challenge Grove Park, corner of Borton Mill Road. and Caldwell Road, Cherry Hill.

Registration for the walk-a-thon will take place the day of the event, Saturday, May 19 at each location, from 8:30-10 a.m, and the walk is from 9 a.m.-12 noon.

For more information, to obtain registration forms, or to sponsor a walker, go to www.goodcounselhomes.org, or contact Brenda Quinn at 856-423-3468, or e-mail olvbquinn@aol.com

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