St. Gianna’s Place … Miracle on Library Street
June 14, 2019
by Eloise Maddox
The founding of this nonprofit organization two-and-a-half years ago was the result of four women who had a vision to secure and open a home that could become a safe harbor for homeless pregnant women.
In February, 2019 the Board of Directors of St. Gianna’s Place signed a lease to rent a six-bedroom home on the grounds of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Hudson that can meet their needs. St. Gianna Beretta Molla was an Italian pediatrician, wife, and mother. She is known as the patron saint of mothers, physicians, and unborn children. Named after her, this temporary place of residence will meet the mothers’ physical needs of food, clothing, and shelter while also providing spiritual, emotional, educational, and social support.
Each mom will be assigned a caseworker to determine their specific needs. Job-and-life-skills training will be provided for assistance in obtaining their GED, completing education beyond high school, or seeking an alternate path to a promising career via trade school. Everyone who resides at St. Gianna’s will receive training in a variety of areas in accordance to their specific needs and goals, not just parenting; be it economical, social, financial (money management, budgeting) or cooking/nutrition skills, volunteers and resources are already in place to assist and to help transform these moms to become confident, independent members of the community equipped to hold a job when they leave St. Gianna’s Place.
Betty Breuder, Liz Neville, Monica Rahilly, and Maria Szemplinski, along with four other people of very diverse backgrounds, had a common desire — some might call it a mission, or a calling that they were responding to through prayer — to open a home that offers transitional housing for pregnant mothers in crisis.
These dedicated people obtained 501(c)3 status and established a Board of Directors. Laura Gandia became President of the BOD remaining in that position for two years until she stepped down in December, 2018 due to family obligations. Co-founder Monica Rahilly is the current President of the BOD. There’s an enormous need in New Hampshire for this type of housing for homeless pregnant women. Only two other such caring maternity homes were operating in New Hampshire at the time of St. Gianna’s Open House, June 6.
Over the last two years corporate sponsors, benefactors, individuals, even churches have held multiple, successful events and fundraisers, baby crawls, coffee chats, baby drives, baby showers, a Mother’s Day Drive, all of which have been instrumental in providing financial contributions, supplies, gift cards, baby clothes and baby items, bed and bath linens, cleaning and household products. Last month on May 1, St. Gianna’s first Benefit Banquet was held in Manchester hosting 300 people, to raise funds for operating expenses, celebrate the signing of the lease, and build awareness of St. Gianna’s Place. James Wahlberg, a strong advocate for life and the CEO of the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation, was the keynote/guest speaker.
Prayer has been St. Gianna’s Place’s greatest asset on their journey toward opening their doors to pregnant women in crisis and their babies. This safe harbor home, while rooted in the principles of the Catholic faith, is open to women of all beliefs. One of the home’s goals is to operate as a family while supporting moms in need of a stable home environment, regardless of the circumstances that have brought them to St. Gianna’s. Aiming to acquire Catholic spiritual knowledge, restore their self-worth and dignity, to believe they are loved and can have hope and joy restored to their lives, these women will also reap the rewards of motherhood since they decided to choose life for their babies. Spiritually, the moms will also be involved in Bible studies and weekly Mass attendance.
Laura Gandia had this to say recently: “With great humility and thankful hearts, the St. Gianna’s Place team celebrated its open house on June 6, 2019. The efforts of our volunteers and supporters made the dream of opening a home for pregnant mothers in need a reality. Supporting mothers and their babies by providing a safe family home with individualized plans that include life skills training, parenting, educational and financial classes, and emotional and spiritual guidance, encompasses the goals and mission of St. Gianna’s Place. Our hearts are full. With God’s graces and blessings, St. Gianna’s Place begins its journey of inspiring, encouraging and empowering these mothers and showering their babies with love and tenderness. St. Gianna’s Place appreciates the outpouring of donations received from the residents of Hudson and looks forward to being a productive member of the Hudson community.”
For more information on fundraisers or to get involved in volunteer opportunities: Contact information, www.stgiannasplace.org, telephone (603) 247-8654.