Displaying items by tag: housing

Motherhood and Bonding in Maternity Homes

by Sharisa McDaniel, Transitional Living Program Manager at Catholic Charities of Eastern OklahomaBonding

The setting of a Maternity Home and Transitional Living offers a unique opportunity to influence the parenting practices of residents and family dynamics for generations to come.  At Madonna House and St. Elizabeth Lodge in Tulsa, Oklahoma, team members observe parenting practices that range from healthy and loving to harsh and disconnected.  In an effort to positively shape the futures of the families in the programs, the Transitional Living team at Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma regularly examines the environmental influences and program initiatives to promote bonding and connectedness.  As the family programming at Madonna House and St. Elizabeth Lodge has developed and evolved, the following adjustments have been made to the environment:

    • Most “containers” (bouncy seats, swings, bumbos, exersaucers, etc.) removed from the maternity home to promote mothers holding their babies.
    • Rolling basinets were removed to promote mothers holding their babies rather than pushing them down the hallways.
    • “Stroller Parking” was established to promote mother’s holding and carrying their babies in the home, rather than pushing them in strollers or keeping them contained in car seats.
    • “No Phone Zones” established in offices to encourage mothers to find more appropriate means of entertaining their children during provider appointments (toys instead of screens).
    • Songs, rhymes, and games are posted throughout the home to promote positive interactions between mothers and their children.
    • The program curfew establishes healthy routines for mom and baby.

Catholic Charities has also established a Family Enrichment position to pro-actively educate parents on child development and to offer experiences that help to build healthy bonds. With a background of teaching early childhood education for nearly 20 years, Angela Grissom brings her experience and her passion for educating parents to the Family Enrichment role. Residents of Madonna House and St. Elizabeth Lodge meet with Angela every week to participate in parent-child activities and learn positive parenting practices. The Family Enrichment program offers:

    • Talking is Teaching, a city-wide campaign that promotes reading to children ages 0-5 and provides free books and parenting curriculum.
    • Readers to Leaders, another early childhood reading program that also includes songs, rhymes, and games that provide bonding experiences for mothers and their little ones.
    • Education and guidance on the PACEs (the flip side of ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences) – Positive and Compensatory Experiences), 10 experiences children need to live successful lives.
    • I Love You Rituals by Dr. Becky Bailey– bonding songs, rhymes, and games that include eye contact, touch, playfulness, and presence.
    • The Whole Brain Child by Dr. Daniel J. Seigel and Tina Payne – Parenting strategies that promote connection before correction.
    • The Parents as Teachers Home Visiting Program – Each session includes a parent-child interaction, development-centered parenting education, and family well-being guidance.

With these efforts, mothers report:

    • learning new parenting methods that focus on a bond of love,
    • creating healthy routines that benefit their babies development and sleep schedule,
    • establishing rituals that provide a sense of meaning in their family routines,
    • establishing habits of reading with their children,
    • using Whole Brain strategies to successfully navigate difficult behaviors,
    • greater awareness of the experiences that influence their children’s success in life and school.

The Family Enrichment program at Madonna House and St. Elizabeth Lodge is a pro-active approach to influencing strong bonds within resident families for years to come.

Succession Planning for Maternity Housing

by Peggy ForrestPeggy Forrest 244x300

Most of us would agree that any organization’s ability to successfully carry out its mission is tied to the quality of its leadership. Be that a President, CEO, or Executive Director - the effectiveness of that person’s leadership, makes a difference. So, it’s easy to understand why it is mission critical to ensure the next leader will be the correct one, and the transition from one leader to the next will be as smooth as possible. This is especially true in maternity housing because of the deeply personal nature of the work. Leadership transition is critically important, and having a plan guiding that effort will help reduce the stresses which accompany such a transition. Succession planning takes focus and effort. It involves the Board of Directors working in partnership with the current leader.

A succession plan has three main goals:

  • Guide the Board in the recruitment and selection of new leadership.
  • Facilitate a smooth transition
  • Maintain continuity of operations and organizational sustainability

A succession plan contemplates:

  • Planned departures
  • Unplanned departures
  • Internal talent development

A succession plan should include:

  • A timetable - from notice to end of transition period
  • A review of organization’s strategic direction
  • The development of a leadership profile
  • A recruitment strategy
  • An onboarding and transition plan
  • A communication strategy

Regardless of the age of your Agency, or the tenure of your leader, succession planning may be a timely and important topic to address during your Agency’s next strategic planning efforts.


pregnancy help podcast 300x300

Listen in to a podcast from Mary Peterson and Emily Prins on the same topic of succession planning!

Heartbeat International has additional information related to succession planning in our Governing Essentials Manual. Click here to find out more.

Simple and Good

by Mary Peterson, Housing SpecialistChicks
Heartbeat International

My young nieces are on a chicken kick. They have hatched eggs, studied the various chicken breeds, and dreamt about being chicken farmers. When I catch them on the phone, chirping sounds fill the background.  With a little chick cupped in their hands, they rattle on and on about this chicken's unique features, filled with stories of how cute it is now and how many eggs it will lay in the future.  

Their love is a testimony to new life and springtime. It is simple and good.

The egg is a symbol of Easter, often found in religious artwork to indicate life springing forth from the darkness of the tomb. That symbolism has spilled over into the egg-dyeing, egg-hunting, and chocolate egg-eating traditions that we associate with Easter.

And in some ways, the egg echos the work of maternity housing. The women we serve often arrive trapped in the darkness of their lives but literally filled with life and possibility.  We fuss to create a little corner that is safe and cozy for them; we fluff and fill their space with items to communicate excitement about their presence.  We attempt to keep that mom in the warmth of a lived Christian experience and do regular check-ins to see how things are going.

We hope and pray in anticipation that new life will spring forth. We trust that renewal and redemption is possible in her life, just as we seek it in our own life. We accompany her as she awaits the new life that she carries and serve as a model of rejoicing and celebrating in the preciousness of that life.

May your egg traditions help you to remember the joy of life springing forth. May this season of Easter and spring and renewal and possibility have an impact on your life. May people look at the way that you love within your work and be inspired. May our hearts be simple and good!

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Belong, Believe, Behave

Have you been catching Mary's Quick Tips on Facebook? Join the National Maternity Housing Coalition Facebook group to keep getting tips like this one from Mary Peterson.

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Getting Started with Social Media

by Becky Zemlicka, Mindz Eye MarketingSocialMediaPhoneLaptop

Whether your organization is already on social media, or you’re feeling pressured to join, here are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind.

Where to begin.

The main social media platforms where your audience will expect to find you are Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. There are definitely others, but as of right now, these platforms are the most popular. However, with the current political influences on social media, many users are switching to other platforms, so it’s something to keep an eye on.

What to know about Facebook.

Facebook is the most popular platform for organizations to engage with (right now), and is the most user-friendly platform to manage. Facebook has earned the reputation of being the “middle-aged moms” platform, but that’s not actually true. According to Facebook, their demographics are 19.3% male users and 13.2% female users between the ages of 25 and 34 years. However, women tend to be more “active” on Facebook than men, hence the reputation. Regardless, your content on Facebook should be aimed primarily to supporters and not clients. That’s not to say you shouldn’t make any client-focused posts. You will have some client-aged followers, and it’s still good for your supporters to see how you talk to and interact with your clients.

What to Post:

I often hear the statement, “We’re on social media, but we don’t know what to post or how often.” While my answer could be an article (or book) of its own, here is some general guidance:

  • Keep social media social. Your followers want to hear what’s going on inside the walls of your organization and how you’re making an impact. You’ll get the most engagement on posts such as staff anniversaries, client testimonials and accomplishments, staff/client events, decorating for holidays, etc. Always include a photo.
  • Educate your followers. While the majority of your posts should be social in nature, it’s also a good idea to educate your supporters about your organization and its services. Post answers to some of the most common questions you receive about your organization; dispel misperceptions people have about what you do or who you serve. Be careful not to get too “soap-boxy,” but education should definitely be a part of your mix. Always include a photo.
  • Include a photo. Always. Posts with photos will be seen by more of your followers, and photos with human faces are 38 percent more likely to receive likes than photos with no faces. They’re also 32 percent more likely to attract comments.*
  • Plan and post often. I’ve heard it said that you can’t post too often. I don’t agree with that, but most of you have so much on your plates, you won’t error on the side of posting too often. I suggest no less than one post per week – more often, if possible. However, plan your posts. Develop a monthly plan to ensure you have a good mix of social posts, education, events, testimonials, etc. Having a plan will also help ensure you don’t forget to snap a photo during your next potluck or when a big donation of diapers comes in the door. I’m not saying you can’t have impromptu posts – you definitely should – but have a flexible plan so social media stays top-of-mind.

*Source: Georgia Tech News Center


BeckyZemlicka 2017 smaller 1Becky Zemlicka is a speaker and owner of Mindz Eye Marketing, a virtual agency founded in 2001 that specializes in marketing, advertising and social media for small businesses and non-profit organizations. Zemlicka is also a co-founder of Ruth Harbor Ministries in Des Moines, Iowa – a home and program for young moms facing unplanned pregnancies or parenting young children.

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Strategic Planning as Worship Work

by Sue BaumgartenStrategicPlanning

Thinking strategically is not one of my top strengths. By nature, I’m a connector and a communicator, an activator and a mentor. But with almost 3 decades of board service, (respectful of term limits and built-in breaks) and also serving as an Executive Director for a few years, I am no stranger to Strategic Planning. And, I currently serve on the National Maternity Housing Coalition (NMHC) leadership council and we’re in the middle of Strategic Planning as I write this.

3 Key Tips for Increasing Cultural Competency

by Ellen Foell, International Program Specialist, Heartbeat International and Faith Bohlin, Program Manager, Aid for WomenCulturalCompetence

In November 2020, Ellen Foell and Faith Bohlin engaged in an informal conversation on the topic of increasing cultural competency as part of the “Power Conversation” series. This article is a loose representation of that conversation, which is available in its entirety here

Be humble.

  • There is general cultural competency (e.g. like exercising humility and understanding that you don’t understand) as well as specific cultural competencies related to being knowledgeable about traditions, customs, and principles of specific ethnic groups. Start with general principles and then learn about the specific cultures that God has placed you in.
  • Have the humility to apologize when necessary and to seek forgiveness.
  • Ask permission -- Can I hug you? Can I touch your baby?  It is a signal of respect and humility.

Listen very deeply and ask good questions.

  • Things like volume of communication, hand gestures, pace of interaction vary significantly. Take your cues from the person you are interacting with.  As Ellen Foell described it, “Listen with your eyes. Mirror what you are seeing.”
  • Here are some sample questions for your consideration:
    • What would normally happen in your community / culture?
    • What is customary around ____ (pregnancy, birth, birthdays, etc.)?
    • Can you please explain _____ to me?
    • Is there a hidden consequence for moving into our program? For participating with our organization? Does it affect your family?
    • Teach me your favorite food or favorite _____.

Be aware of and celebrate differences.

  • Some cultures are based in honor/shame principles which affect everything from identity, family dynamics, how I present myself in my community, and more. Having an “punishment mentality” (i.e. if you do this, I will do this) with your organizational culture may have unintended consequences for those from a honor/shame based tradition.
  • “I like to use the language of ‘tribe’ (i.e. we are a tribe) for our homes. A tribe is composed of multiple family units, each with their own traditions and ways of doing things.  For me, that is a much more accurate description of what we are creating in our housing program,” described Faith Bohlin. Food is an easy way to explore those differences and celebrate them as a community activity.
  • One effective starting place would be to investigate the “culture of poverty.” As Faith described, “It encompasses all ethnic cultures and really is a culture all to its own that has a big impact of the vulnerable women we serve.”

ComptencyTable

Recommended Resources

Ruby Payne.  A Framework for Understanding Poverty and/or Bridges out of Poverty

Duane Elmer.  Cross-Cultural Servanthood: Serving the World in Christlike Humility

https://www.globalcognition.org/blog/

Celebrating Post-Residential Care

by Mary Peterson, LAS, Housing SpecialistAretha
Heartbeat International

Aretha arrived to Maggie's Place in March 2017, just eight weeks pregnant with her daughter Zoe. She arrived with over 20 years of drug and alcohol use and a history of prostitution. “I came from chaos and darkness and stepped into a sanctuary of peace,” she described. “It was the love and sacrifice that the staff gave me that made me feel like I was part of a family.”

During her time, she described running “home” – to the maternity home – when temptations for relapse were high. “I was given time to grow and heal, to be loved and encouraged” she said, “I loved just eating together and celebrating one another.” One special memory involves watching one of the staff members read to a baby. “I had never seen that,” Aretha remembered, “It made me start collecting books and now, I read to my daughter all the time.”

“For me, having the ongoing services after I moved out played a huge role in my sobriety,” Aretha spoke with conviction. After moving into a transitional apartment, she participated in parenting groups, ongoing therapy, Mommy & Me groups, and attachment groups, all offered as ongoing services for former residents. Aretha mentioned that the feeling of connection, the feeling of being a part of a family, was vital to her. The maternity home had become her family and leaving that home environment was tough. “I just decided to take advantage of anything they offered,” she joked. “I needed it. In fact, as we would drive up to the outreach center, Zoe would say, ‘we are home!’” 

“At a Christmas event, I remember looking at the staff handing out gifts, and I thought to myself, ‘I want that.’" In November 2020, that dream was realized when Aretha became a full-time member of the outreach staff associated with the post-residential program of Maggie’s Place. “It’s a dream come true,” she described, “I get to give and be a part of what they are doing here.”

“I know how important it was for me to feel celebrated; I loved watching my daughter be genuinely loved.” Aretha noted, “Now, I mimic what I learned. I celebrate other women and encourage them to stay connected.”  She works with women that have reunification cases and helps as an administrative assistant for the outreach program. Aretha closed with this thought, “When the women are in a hard place, there is comfort that comes from someone that has lived and can acknowledge a piece of their story, their journey.”

The National Maternity Housing Coalition recently released a new White Paper on post-residential programming, Loving Beyond the Home.  It features case studies from Our Lady’s Inn and Mary’s Mantle and outlines programmatic considerations for those exploring the expansion of a formal program to follow residential services.  To download the White Paper and read more about the impact of post-residential programming, click here.

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Emotional Intelligence: Responding with Purpose

by Mary Peterson, Housing Specialistbrain heart brain icon emotiona
Heartbeat International

Many housing programs are exploring the topic of emotional intelligence, or "EQ", helping the mothers to identify and name their emotions. "So many of our residents are emotionally raw," Kathleen Miller of Living Grace Home described, "they don't realize that their emotional responses may be keeping them in a bad cycle." One of the principles of EQ is that emotions show up in our heart, head, and body. To experience healing in those areas, emotions have to be recognized and addressed. "The residents know sad, mad, angry, happy," Beckie Perez of 29:Eleven Maternity Home expressed, "but, when they have more descriptive words for their feelings, they can see them more clearly." She continued, "As the saying goes, 'name it to tame it'. We want the moms to respond with purpose and control rather than impulsively."

One such teaching resource comes from Angie May, the trainer and coach of Kairos Koaching. She has developed a presenter's guide, worksheets, and informational cards as a tool for homes to use to introduce the practical skills associated with Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. "It's a practical model that gives usable tools for organizations and can be a game changer in meeting the real needs of women," she described. The model focuses on four key areas: mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal skills.

"Not all programs can have a therapist on staff," she reflected. "This program allows clients to build life skills based on the therapeutic model of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy but using the existing staff." Lynnette Carter from Living Hope Centers agrees, "We were struggling to help our residents learn these skills without a professional counselor on staff. This content helped us figure out a critical piece that we were missing."  

An example of one skill that May teaches is strengthening "wisemind" in residents. May summed up the concept saying, "Wisemind is combining the emotional mind and the reasonable mind in the present moment for good decision-making." It involves an emphasis on staying in the moment, the place where healing happens. Many of the tools she advocates for are related to identifying strategies in advance -- for example, having a distraction plan when overwhelming emotion hits or having an idea on how to handle distressing situations.

Angie May did a webinar outlining the content for Heartbeat.  If you are interested in learning more about her approach, check out the recording of her webinar (remember to log in for your affiliate discount!) or connect with Angie at KairosKoaching.com.  To jumpstart a conversation on Emotional Intelligence, join the National Maternity Housing Coalition Facebook group.

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Celebrating Anne Pierson

imagejpeg 1Anne Pierson is a memorable soul – A pioneer. A founder. An author. A mentor. A mother & friend. Surrounded by housing peers, this noteworthy woman was awarded a Lifetime Legacy award on October 28 from the National Maternity Housing Coalition. “Anne has always been one of my role models since the moment I met her,” Peggy Hartshorn, Board President of Heartbeat International described, “I admire her both as an individual and as an example of ministry as a couple.”

Anne loves singing, puzzles, and striking up conversations wherever she goes. Her love takes the form of being able to focus deeply on the individual in front of her and speak to their heart. She gives “words” as a spiritual ministry to encourage and direct. She has lived a rich life of relationship, having touched many lives with her expertise and genuine love.

As an only child, Anne longed for the large extended families she saw in her childhood neighborhood. Her husband Jimmy had a deep yearning to be a father even as a youth. Both of these desires were realized in the unique extended family they created together. They wed when Anne was 18 years old and together, they had two daughters, Holly and Shelly. As youth ministers early in their marriage, Anne and Jimmy encountered a young woman who was pregnant due to rape. This encounter began a lifetime journey of service to women and children.

Anne and Jimmy welcomed over 200 pregnant women into the context of their personal home, opening their doors to women in need of support. The family life that was shared together is the source of many of Anne’s great stories and insights and Anne has stayed in touch with many of these families for years and years. Their personal efforts became formalized in the founding of a nonprofit, House of His Creation, in 1972. Following many years of direct service, the Pierson’s were publicly recognized in a speech made by President Reagan. This prompted other individuals and ministries needing help to reach out and eventually, led to the development of a new ministry.

Praying Over Anne

Anne began writing materials and in 1984, founded Loving & Caring, an international ministry to provide resources, materials, and practical tools for those in the pregnancy help movement. The My Baby and Me workbook series remains a valuable tool in the pro-life movement, especially in supporting the exploration of adoption. Anne played a key role in the establishment of the National Christian Housing Conference.

As a speaker, she has brought the pro-life message to a variety of settings including conferences, churches, and retreats. A natural storyteller, Anne brings a spark of humor and light-heartedness, illustrating her teachings with tales from her life. She is passionate about the impact of fatherlessness, the beauty of adoption, and the model of family.

“Anne’s years and years of service have shaped the maternity housing community in profound ways,” Mary Peterson, facilitator of the National Maternity Housing Coalition, noted. “She introduced and gave shape to a new model of ministry which inspired many to take up the work. Her work continues in the leaders she has formed who continue to serve with great conviction and passion.”

Over the course of their service, Jim and Anne received Heartbeat’s inaugural Servant Leader Award in 1996. Years later, they also received a 2011 Legacy Award, part of a very small community of those who have been honored with both. Following Jim’s passing in 2012, Heartbeat established a scholarship in his name to support a housing organization in attending the conference.

In recent months, Pierson has announced that the next season of her ministry will be closer to home. A resident of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Anne is involved with ministries and churches in that community. She has a rich family life including 3 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Speaking with conviction, Hartshorn summed up Anne’s legacy in this way, “Anne is an incredibly wise woman – versed in human nature, able to see what women really need, and willing to pour herself out with genuine love.”

As the Lifetime Legacy award noted, Anne Pierson has indeed “fought the good fight and finished the race.” (2 Timothy 4:7)

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