On Saturday, May 30, nearly 300 people gathered at four county parks and the Sea Isle City boardwalk to take part in the third annual Good Counsel – South Jersey walk-a-thon.
The walk-a-thon raised over $35,000 which will help fund the establishment of a Good Counsel maternity home in South Jersey to serve the needs of local homeless pregnant women and their children.
Good Counsel, Inc. is a Catholic organization dedicated to the care of single, homeless, pregnant mothers before, during, and after the birth of their babies. In 1985, under the direction of co-founders Father Benedict Groeschel, CFR, and Chris Bell, the first Good Counsel home opened in Hoboken, N.J.. Today, there are four Good Counsel homes in the greater New York City area, one of which, called Daystar, specializes in the care of mothers with mental illness and addiction issues.
In addition to food, clothing and shelter, Good Counsel offers single mothers a “life skills” program which focuses on parenting, nutrition, communication, and personal finances and budgeting. Other aspects of the program focus on spirituality, chastity, career education and counseling. Daycare is available in each home so that a mother may work or return to school.
Candace, a woman who was assisted by Good Counsel Homes, told her story at a South Jersey fundraiser a year ago.
Candace had not revealed to anyone that she was pregnant until she was five months along. Upon hearing the news, her mother told Candace to either have an abortion or leave home. Candace chose to leave home.
For the next four months, Candace alternated between welfare motels and the streets, not knowing where she would live or what she would do when her baby was born. In desperation, Candace went to the local library to research maternity homes. The first home she located was a New York Good Counsel. By that evening, she had moved in.
Within three months of Tatiana’s birth, Candace went to work. Two months later, she moved into her own apartment with Tatiana. Presently, Candace holds a full-time job and attends school part-time. She continues her relationship with Good Counsel by participating in the Exodus program, which provides mothers with support and education during their transition to independent living.
There are many Candaces in the Camden Diocese, said Brenda Quinn, who is working to establish a Good Counsel in South Jersey.
Good Counsel – South Jersey is in negotiations with several parishes for the lease of one of the convents that will become available as a result of the upcoming parish reconfigurations. In the meantime, the group is helping these young women on an outreach basis.
Quinn mentioned a woman named Lisa, who was provided with counseling and material support when her family abandoned her after learning that she was pregnant, and Juanita and her daughter, who received help with food and rent until they could be taken to a Good Counsel Home in New York.
Good Counsel – South Jersey’s major fundraising event, a dinner dance, will take place Oct. 23 at Lucien’s Ballroom in Berlin.
For more information about Good Counsel Homes, go to www.goodcounselhomes.org. Click on “New Home” to learn more about Good Counsel – South Jersey.
To volunteer or learn about contributing via “Partners For Life,” call Bill Klatt at 856-589-4925, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or Brenda Quinn at 856-423-3468, email email@example.com.
Donations can be mailed to Good Counsel-South Jersey, 268 Genesee Rd., Clarksboro, N.J. 08020