By Brian Besch
A group of approximately 70 people joined founders and board members at the House of Mary just off North Houston Avenue Thursday afternoon to open the new shelter for pregnant women.
The idea started in motion August of 2015 and ground was broken on the project in March of 2019. The organization was able to pay cash for the existing building through its donations.
“There were too many times that we thought this day would never come,” House of Mary Founder and President Rusty Garcia said before cutting the ribbon. “I will say that it was God’s Army beside us that kept reminding us the purpose of what we are here for, what we are doing, and what He has placed here in Polk County.”
Garcia asked those in attendance to keep praying and spreading the word.
The House of Mary is a maternity home and can house up to eight residents at a time. Four residents will share each of the two bathrooms and each bedroom has enough for two residents per room.
“They can stay for the duration of their pregnancy and up to eight weeks postpartum,” House of Mary Co-Founder and Vice President Cyndie Schmidt said while giving a tour of the home. “While they are here, they will learn life skills like financing, meal planning, how to budget and opportunities for continuing education — whether that is finishing their GED or college degree or any short training program.”
The group is always looking for sponsors for events and monthly donations. Ladies’ Tea, an annual event, will occur each April to fundraise. General donations will go to operating expenses to keep the lights and water on, and pantry full.
The house includes a laundry room, kitchen and living room. Bible studies and family dinners will take place every night in the home. Each of the residents will take turns planning, shopping and cooking meals.
There is a house mother that will remain on duty 24 hours a day, along with other house mothers who will come in and relieve her on occasion. The home is for those 18 and older, and the house mother will serve as a mentor to offer guidance.
House of Mary is a program and not an emergency placement center. The hope is that those successful in the program will leave with housing, skills to manage and maintain a home, and a job that will support the mothers and their child.