Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Great Work of Mercy for Needy Moms

Just found out about "The Well of Mercy," a wonderful community here in Chicago for single women in crisis pregnancies; they currently have 14 single-parent families (some of the women have two or three other kids, who are also part of the community). 

Women (average age is 27) can stay up to five years, getting help with job training, education, household finances, counseling... and they are all introduced to the Theology of the Body, too (which they find extraordinarily empowering).  They live as a family in a huge old convent, preparing and eating meals together (supper, at least). I was really impressed by something the director said in this regard. Many of the women grew up without parenting, in shattering poverty. When they come to the community, they are expected to give over their "Link" cards (food stamps successor) for the community's groceries. This is the hardest thing for any of them to do, and takes a while--days and weeks during which a woman will go to the kitchen and open the fridge, and stand there looking: there is food in the refrigerator! When, finally, the woman realizes that she will not go hungry here, she finds the trust to make her contribution to the grocery money.

This is not a quick and easy way to solve a crisis pregnancy; it's certainly not the "take care of 'it'" fix abortion pretends to be, and it's not the "until the next failed birth control" roulette, either. What The Well of Mercy (and other programs like it, such as Heather's House) offers is the education and formation of a woman to her true dignity. Now that the program has been going for a couple of years, there are enough women who are established in the community's life to help mentor the newcomers. As you can imagine, they have a waiting list, too. 

The Well of Mercy was founded by a Chicago laywoman, who put her entire life's savings into the project. This service gets absolutely no federal funds, either. Right now they need help with regular operating costs, but they could also use some bicycles and child-carts as a way of teaching the moms low-cost ways of having fun and staying healthy. Baby care items are always appreciated; other in-kind gifts may be offered in their resale shop, which serves as a training in retail sales.

The Well of Mercy will be holding a fund-raiser that is worthy of your participation if you are in the Chicago area, or planning a vacation in Chicago around July 19: a two and a half hour nighttime cruise on Lake Michigan, with live entertainment, food, auction, etc. Call 773-274-4227 for info and tickets ($100).

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