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Life House opens; Jackson Scrappers donate quilt sets

Members of the Jackson Scrappers Quilt Guild presented 22 shopping bags containing twin and baby quilts to the Catholic Charities Life House Crisis Maternity Home in Cape Girardeau May 17. From left are Judy Peetz, Rebekah Wilson, Michelle Standridge, Beth Vegiard and Donna Kiel. The quilts shown here were made by Beth Vegiard. Photo by Gregory Dullum

The Life House has been a long time coming to Cape Girardeau.

Property at 535 N. Main St. in Cape Girardeau was donated to Catholic Charities to build for the Life House Crisis Pregnancy Maternity Home in 2017.

Ground was broken on Oct. 20, 2021.

The Life House finally opened its doors to its first resident on Monday, May 20. A second resident arrived on Tuesday, May 21. Program Administrator Sara Dockins said the facility will fill up fast now that it’s open.

The first 22 residents will find in their rooms two homemade quilts — a twin size for them and a crib-size one for their baby — thanks to the Jackson Scrappers Quilt Guild. Members of the guild made the donation on Friday, May 17, three days before the doors opened.

The Life House provides private rooms for 15 homeless pregnant mothers and their babies. It also has a common dining area, an enclosed outdoor area, an enrichment center and a community room.

Meals are provided in the dining area Mondays through Thursdays, where residents eat together. On weekends, residents may leave the facility to dine in restaurants, practicing skills (budgeting, personal accountability, etc.) that they learned during the week

The opening of the Life House was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the dramatic increase in costs of building materials that followed. Additional funds had to be raised in order to complete construction.

Catholic Charities has been operating a Life House in Springfield prior to opening the one in Cape. Since that one opened in late 2012, 105 healthy babies were born to Life House residents, none of them with illegal drugs or alcohol in their systems.

It was this success thatdrove a desire to create a similar home in Cape Girardeau to serve this side of the state.

“Catholic Charities has a mission to help those in need,” said Bob Fox, who was Cape’s mayor during the groundbreaking ceremony in 2021. “And Life House is going to be a completely different kind of project for Southeast Missouri to help homeless pregnant women get on their feet and teach them life skills and educate them and give them health services. But most of all, it preserves a life, and that’s what’s important,” Fox said.

The goal of the Life House program is to have healthy moms and healthy babies. Most of the women have not been getting prenatal care. Many were abused as children and are suffering form domestic violence as adults. Some residents are victims of sex-trafficking. Eighty percent or more have an active drug history.

The residents are connected with services to help them get sober and have healthy babies. Meanwhile, Life House offers a safe, secure place to heal, build hope and a brighter future for the moms and their babies.

Homeless pregnant women over the age of 18 and their children under 5 are eligible to become residents.

The moms have to work the program, learning about personal accountability. They are given a path to employment, to education and to life skills needed to become successful in the long term once they leave Life House.

Life House also offers an aftercare program to help women for up to two years once they leave.

Gregory Dullum has worked for The Cash-Book Journal for more than 25 years. Prior to becoming the editor in May 2017, he was production manager, circulation manager and reporter. Before moving to Cape Girardeau in 1988, he was editor of the Saint Louis Park Sailor, a weekly community newspaper in suburban Minneapolis, MN. A native of Minnesota, he returned there after graduating with distinction in 1978 from Ambassador College in Pasadena, CA, with a degree in mass communications. His wife, Marie, whom he met in college, is a native of Zalma, a small town in southeast Missouri. They have two grown daughters and five grandchildren. Gregory may be reached at cashbook@mvp.net.

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