One fateful night, 35 years ago, Chris Bell and a small crew welcomed the first mother into Good Counsel's Hoboken home. Milestones like these are an important time to reflect on the past and see the progress that has been made. It is equally important to take stock of where we are now as an organization. Below is a letter written by Silvana Cowden, administrative assistant to Chris Bell, to all staff and donors. I guess you could call it our "State of the Union Address."
Good Counsel’s mission to serve homeless single pregnant women and their children has continued for 35 years, reaching thousands of mothers and babies. Co-founded in 1985 by the Rev. Benedict Groeschel, CFR, and Christopher Bell, Good Counsel has served more than 7,800 mothers and children, providing more than 758,400 nights of shelter. More than 1,214 babies have been born to Good Counsel mothers since the first home opened in Hoboken, NJ. In 2019, there were 44 babies born to mothers living at Good Counsel, and so far this year of 2020, eleven babies have been born.
Good Counsel runs four homes, three in the New York City greater metropolitan area, and one outside Camden, New Jersey. Good Counsel has helped to open eleven similar homes in nine other states, and continues to offer guidance and other assistance for people interested in opening maternity homes based on the Good Counsel model.
Last year our homes had a 100% occupancy rate. Ideally, mothers stay in the program for up to a year, in order to reap the maximum benefits of our Life Skills Program. Staff and volunteers teach this program courses, which focus on nutrition, spirituality, health and chastity, social skills, computer education and more. Assistance is given in parenting, job skills, career placement and personal budgeting. In 2019, 57% of residents gained employment and 54% of residents achieved educational advancement.
Good Counsel also operates a post-abortion counseling and referral network called Lumina to help women, men, and siblings of aborted children who are suffering from past abortions. Confidential counseling is available through Lumina’s toll-free helpline 877.586.4621, or for information, please visit www.postabortionhelp.org
Additionally, the Good Counsel 24/7 helpline (1.800.723.8331) received more than 4,000 calls and online requests for help from pregnant moms and families last year. More than 40,000 people have been assisted through the helpline since it began in April, 1996.
Good Counsel provides a safe and secure learning environment for both mother and child. Many mothers are already working before they leave our homes. We stay in touch with moms through our Exodus Program, where former residents receive material assistance and on-going counseling to ease the difficulties of transition to independent living. Good Counsel staff has assisted 250 families through the community outreach program.
Nineteen years ago, Good Counsel was one of the founders of the Pregnancy Services Network of Greater New York, a coalition of maternity homes and pregnancy centers in the area. Eight years ago, Good Counsel helped to form the National Maternity Housing Coalition, a group of three dozen maternity homes throughout the U.S.
At Good Counsel, we are overwhelmingly grateful for the opportunity to impact lives in the way we do each and every day. And through the Grace of God and the generosity of our donors we continue to care for women in their darkest hour. So please continue to pray for us; continue to pray for the mothers and babies we encounter. There is more work to be done, and we cannot do it without you!
For more information or to offer help, please contact us here.
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