Bishop O’Connell, grateful mothers praise Good Counsel Homes

BERLIN – “The Gospel is for everyone…. We must reach out to the poor and suffering and sow the seed of Gospel with courage.”
With these words, guest speaker Bishop David O’Connell of Trenton encouraged the work of the staff and friends of Good Counsel Homes-South Jersey at the organization’s seventh annual fundraising banquet, held Oct. 27 at Lucien’s Manor here.
The annual banquet raises money for the Good Counsel Home in Riverside, which assists pregnant women and mothers with educational and vocational training with the aim of help the women achieve indepence.
Since its opening three years ago, the home, run solely by donations and staffed with a director, resident assistants and a case manager, has welcomed 29 babies into the world.
Two of the recently born, with their mothers, were present at the banquet.
Mother Allison, with her son Stellan, recalled being eight months pregnant last April and living in Long Island with the baby’s father. Circumstances necessitated her changing her living situation, and she was prevented from going back to her family in Nebraska. After finding out that the three Good Counsel Homes in New York were full, she found herself in dire need.
“For the first time since my grandfather’s death, I prayed to God in desperation,” she said.
The next day, she was notified that there was an opening at Good Counsel Homes in South Jersey, and she quickly moved in, “relieved and grateful,” but at the same time, “depressed and ashamed.”
The Good Counsel staff, however, made her feel welcome and accepted.
“I’m grateful for the people who’ve given me a chance,” she told the audience, “and my son is a blessing.”
Today, she is looking forward to moving out of the home with her son and into a home where she can provide for him. She recently was hired as a full-time dental assistant.
Mother Michelle also spoke, describing her days in New York City, homeless and pregnant. Abandoned by her family, eating out of dumpsters, and living in a shelter with drug addicts and alcoholics, she found a refuge in Good Counsel.
“I feel like a million bucks” now, she said, holding her newborn daughter, Erica, “God’s gift to me.”
Bishop O’Connell said Good Counsel cares “for women in their most vulnerable moment who choose life.”
Those working for and aiding Good Counsel Homes, he said, bring the “powerful witness of Jesus Christ and his love.”
“You are building a future of hope, to people who feel hopeless, where hope seems impossible. You give hope, provide hope and are hope,” he said.
“The church exists to transform society and change the world, which places so little value on life and all its stages. Our world needs Good Counsel Homes, and its message of faith, hope and love that it brings.”

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