January 2013

Charity Corner: Room At the Inn

Author: Mary Frances Stocks

Twelve years ago, I was 50 pounds heavier and thrilled! I was expecting my first baby and I could not have been happier. My sisters and mother all lived far away, and money was not plentiful. Because traveling home for a baby shower was out of the question, they creatively gave me a children’s book baby shower, asking friends and family near and far to mail to me a favorite book from their childhood to arrive by a certain date. It was amazing to unwrap what seemed like an entire library of children’s literature.

My pregnancy was ideal. My husband and I were eager for the baby’s arrival…it was all good and precious and easy. My cup overflowed with blessings, and I did not take that for granted.

Eleven years later I was in church with my family, listening to a guest speaker that Sunday morning. He spoke beautifully about Room at the Inn, a home for homeless, single, pregnant women, not only during their pregnancies but also after the birth of their babies, located in Bluffton, South Carolina. I wept. Not a sniffle type of cry, but a deep-released, alligator-tears-rolling-down-my-cheeks cry. My sweet six-year-old daughter looked at me with worry in her eyes. I smiled at her letting her know I was okay.

On our drive home, she asked me why I cried in church, and when I answered her, the flood of tears came back. I shared with my family that I felt a tug at my heart—a tug that awakened memories of my own pregnancies. I shared with them the excitement that their dad and I felt with each one. I told them about the baby showers, the gifts, setting up the crib, and decorating the nursery. I told them about how we struggled with names but how silly I felt now after hearing about Room at the Inn.

I wept because I was inspired by these young girls’ courage and bravery. I was neither brave nor courageous. I had a husband, medical insurance, a home, enough pennies in the bank to know I would be able to clothe and feed my baby… But these young girls become mothers with so many obstacles—obstacles that would have derailed and defeated me, but not them.

Room at the Inn provides shelter, food, clothing, case management, child development services, transportation, life skills education, and counseling in a structured environment to help these mothers have new lives of healthy, hope-filled self-sufficiency. Room at the Inn of the Carolinas, Inc. operates two licensed maternity home programs in the Carolinas. The local maternity home located in Bluffton is named The McGivney Maternity Home. It is fully licensed by SCDSS and provides maternity home services to up to six pregnant women and parenting teens with or without previous children. Room at the Inn of the Carolinas operates a maternal, infant and child healthcare program for all residents of the maternity home programs. Services include: weekly counseling sessions, transportation to medical appointments, and health education classes.

The following classes are offered: CPR/First Aid (Infant, Toddler/Adult); Childbirth; Personal Hygiene/Child; Parenting Basics; Breastfeeding; Personal Goals; Job Hunting; Money Management; Car Seat Safety; “Bedtime Story Time,” Health Skills; Self- Esteem; “Making it on Your Own” Series; Day Care Application Process; and Goal Assessment.

A self-sufficiency program is offered to the young mothers. This program teaches: Job Interviewing, Budgeting, Credit Management, Savings, Consumer Credit Counseling, Housekeeping and Tenants’ Rights and Responsibilities. Also offered on a completely voluntary basis is a program to help them develop self-esteem, positive outlooks, and stable relationships with members of their own faith community. These girls leave with a network of friends and connections who desire to help them and their children succeed.

My cribs have long been taken down, strollers, bottles and baby clothes donated; but a mother I will forever be, and for that I am forever grateful. My cup is still overflowing with blessings, but now I choose to let my overflow pour into the lives of these courageous, young, brave, pregnant homeless girls. Their grit inspires me.

Like all nonprofits, Room at the Inn depends on the generosity of others. The greatest blessing you can give to your fellow man is to lighten the burden of another. For more information on how you can contribute, please visit roominn.org, call (843) 815-9911 or mail contributions to P.O. Box 2486, Bluffton, SC 29910.

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