The first Good Counsel Home in South Jersey, to help pregnant women in need, has opened in a former convent in Riverside.
The first Good Counsel Home in South Jersey is now open in Riverside and ready to accept pregnant mothers in need.
Founded in 1985 by Father Benedict Groeschel and Christopher Bell, Good Counsel has four additional homes in the New York Metropolitan area and has assisted the opening of similar homes in eight other states.
Good Counsel homes provide a family-like atmosphere where each mother has a private bedroom but shares the rest of the home and the responsibility of taking care of that home with the other mothers residing there. They take turns cooking and cleaning, do their laundry and participate in a life skills program where they take classes in nutrition and health, parenting, finance and budgeting, spirituality and chastity, and computers. They also learn how to write a resume or go on a job interview, and they receive counseling.
A group of lay volunteers from the Diocese of Camden, led by Bill Klatt, former director of the pro-life office, and Brenda Quinn, recognized the need for this home, when women who were homeless and pregnant contacted them or their local parish.
“It has been the help of many parishes and supporters from the Camden Diocese that has enabled this home to be available to pregnant women in need,” said the organization in a statement.
Renovated from a former convent, the new home is able to accommodate nine mothers and their children. Volunteers have painted a zoo animal theme in the playroom, helped to clean and set up the rooms to be comfortable and inviting, sorted and washed donations that have been pouring into the home, and helped to clean up the yard and plant flowers.
The home is staffed 24 hours a day all week. Once a mother is ready to leave the home, she participates in an Exodus program with a case worker to help ease the transition to independent living.
Cots will be placed in the playroom or chapel to prevent turning a mother away.
In 2010, 83 percent of Good Counsel mothers did volunteer work in the local communities. More than 2,820 calls for help came in on the emergency help line, 40 babies were born in the homes, and 68 women and their children were still actively engaged in the Exodus program.
A walk-a-thon fundraiser will be held Saturday, May 21, at four South Jersey sites: Memorial Park, Cinnaminson; Wildwood Boardwalk; Medford Park, Medford; and Washington Lake Park, Sewell. To obtain forms, contact Brenda Quinn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 856-423-3468. Information about Good Counsel Homes can be found at www.goodcounselhomes.org.