A place for women facing the storms of life


goodcounselhome-webMichelle Coon holds her son, Daniel Joseph. She shared her story at the sixth annual Good Counsel Homes Banquet at Lucien’s Manor, Berlin, on Oct. 28.

Berlin — On Sunday evening, Oct. 28, as Hurricane Sandy was approaching New Jersey, undaunted individuals gathered here at Lucien’s Manor to celebrate life at the sixth annual Good Counsel Homes Banquet.

Michelle Coon was there to celebrate life as well, specifically the life of her son, who is now almost three months old.

A mother at Good Counsel in Riverside, Coon shared her story with the crowd. She came to Good Counsel in July, with her baby’s father incarcerated.

Today, she is in “a great home for my baby, Daniel Joseph.”

With a bachelor’s degree in legal studies, she is hoping to soon find employment as a legal secretary.

Coon thanked God for the Good Counsel workers who gave her their “dedication, kindness and positive outlook on life.”

“We are to cherish this gift of life God gave us,” she said.

The annual banquet raises money for the Good Counsel Home in Riverside, which assists pregnant and parenting mothers educational and vocational training, aimed at independent living for the women. This year, more than $100,000 was raised from sponsors and donations.

Christopher Bell, executive director and co-founder of Good Counsel, Inc., was the keynote speaker. He recalled his experiences before Good Counsel, when he was working in a lay prayer community in New York.

Seeing the need of single mothers and their babies, Bell shared his concerns with Father Benedict Groeschel, a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal, and the two opened up the first Good Counsel Home in Hoboken, N.J., in 1985.

Today, in addition to the Riverside location, there are three homes in New York.

“We are made in the image and likeness of God,” Bell told those gathered, “no matter how we are conceived, or when we are conceived.”

Father Joseph Szolack, pastor of Infant Jesus Parish in Woodbury Heights, asked God, in his invocation at the dinner, that all attendees “will not just get past Sandy, but get past the storms that hinder life.”