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For the Love of Life!

 

Resident Stories


A recent resident, who wanted to remain anonymous, wrote this: (March, 2016)

  The staff were friendly and really showed that they cared about me and the babies. During my pregnancy, I was sick a lot, and at 7 months along developed very high blood pressure. Because of staff and Mary's Shelter volunteers, I was able to get the care i needed. 

   I was admitted to the hospital and my twins had to be delivered 8 wekks early. They spent 7 weeks in the NICU. It was such a difficult time for me, but I had love and support from Mary's Shelter staff and encouragement to become closer to God.

   When the twins came home to Mary's Shelter, we began going to church and I have been so blessed and have grown so much spiritually. I am now living my adult life as a Christian. Before I came to Mary's Shelter, I struggled with depression and anxiety. My life was surrounded by drugs and alcohol. I had not positive influences in my life. I was shocked when I found out I was pregnant with twins. I was excited and scared at the same time. 

   Because I made the decision to have the twins and raise them, I was abandoned by my family. It seemed that everyone I thought would always be there for me was gone. I had no place to go, and didn't know how I could make it alone. 

   A co-worker got me in touch with someone associated with Mary's Shelter, and within a week I was able to move in. The first thing I noticed about the Shelter was how peaceful and environment was. I had never lived in a peaceful environment before, and it felt good!

   My twins are healthy and growing. All of this would not have been possible if God had not placed Mary's Shelter in my life, and all of the love and support from the staff. With God, all things are possible. I will always remember our time at Mary's Shelter as one of the best experiences in my life, and love everyone there as family.


Aiden's Story

   Aiden is our “Big Man on Campus”, if you will. The obstacles this little guy has overcome are inspirational to all of us at Mary’s Shelter; especially to his very own family (mom Deann and big sister Haleigh).
   Aiden’s mom came to Mary’s Shelter at 7 ½ months pregnant. Soon after her arrival little Aiden decided to make an early entrance into this great big world. Aiden’s eagerness to get here brought with it a few complications; at birth he was unable take in the proper amount of oxygen. He was transferred to The University of South Alabama’s Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
   After testing it was determined that he was born with a Tracheoesophageal Fistula (TEF).   Babies with TEF are unable to feed properly. Once diagnosed, prompt surgery is required to allow the baby to take in food. Little Aiden underwent his first surgery at just four days old. Less than three weeks later, Aiden faced a new complication, Volvulus (an abnormal twisting of the intestines) which required yet another major surgery.   
   With two major surgeries under his belt, Aiden joined us at Mary’s Shelter at the 'ripe old age’ of 5 weeks.  He and mom were accompanied by big sister Haleigh.  Together, they began their journey of recovery. 
   Deann dove head first into the Empower Me program at Mary’s Shelter and began working on obtaining her GED, which is something she had longed to do since dropping out of high school in 10th grade.   She also attended parenting and life skills classes.  With both of her children and the challenges of the extra care that Aiden required, Deann pushed through the daily schedule at the shelter with determination. The environment at Mary’s Shelter was of great support to Deann, she says “I love the other women, it’s like we are a family.”

   Haleigh also found her happy place at Mary’s Shelter. When she first arrived, she spoke very few words, smiled very little, and was extremely introverted.  Of course she was faced with learning to share Mommy with her new little brother.  Since joining us at Mary’s Shelter she has celebrated her 2nd birthday.   She has fallen SO in love with her little brother and looks out for him all of the time.  The little girl who had nothing to say has bloomed into a chatter box speaking in full sentences.  Haleigh loves to swing outside and Mickey Mouse is her favorite pal.  She loves her role as Big Sister and is taking the potty training challenge by the horns. Her big blue eyes and bright smile light up Mary’s Shelter on a regular basis.

   And best of all, Aiden is now a beautiful, healthy six-month old.  We at Mary's Shelter are so proud of this little family!


 

An Adoptive Family's Story (July, 2012)

 

    My husband and I had pursued adoption for two and a half years. We were trying hard to trust God and wait on His timing, but were getting weary. That's when a friend called who knew of a young woman who was 4 months along and looking for a Christian family with no children to adopt her baby. 

   Shortly after, I went to meet her at Mary's Shelter and took her to a church service where we would meet and worship with the friend who connected us. Later, she met my husband and told us that God was telling her that we were to be the parents of her child.
    She lived at Mary's Shelter for the remaining five months of her pregnancy where I would pick her up to take her on errands and to her doctor's appointments. Before I met her, she had been admitted to an abortion clinic--had the bracelet on and was ready to follow through with the abortion. Then God, in His perfect timing, made another important step to preserve life. Due to the language barrier, she was not able to fill out the paper work and was turned away. As she was walking down the steps, someone handed her a brochure on Safe Harbour in Pensacola where she saw a video on the pros and cons on abortion vs. adoption and she chose adoption!
   Mary's Shelter provided this young woman a safe, loving environment through her pregnancy. She made the life giving choice and in turn, Mary's Shelter protected her life, the life of our  unborn baby girl and gave us the most incredilble gift of our lifetime! Our daughter is now 4 1/2 and preparing for her last year of preschool.
   My family is eternally grateful for Mary's Shelter and the great service provided for pregnant women in need. The child she was carrying, who would become our little girl, was also given shelter, love and protection. Our daughter may not have made it into our arms without that shelter, love and protection given by Mary's Shelter.     
   No words can express the gratitude in our hearts for Mary's Shelter.  
Thanks to Jonathan and Sarah Simpson, and daughter Liza, for sharing their story.
 

 

Brandy's Story (September, 2010)

 

   My name is Brandy, I'm 37 years of age, and currently living at Mary's Shelter in Elberta, Al.

   I have made a lot of bad decisions in my past which has resulted to me being homeless and alone. I have been living house to house, then sheler to shelter, since Jan. 2010. Living house to house became unbearable because of the types of houses (drug homes) I was staying at. I finally picked up the phone and began calling shelters in Mobile, Baldwin County and even Pensacola. 23 shelters later, I still found nowhere to go. I hit my knes and began weeping and praying. I opened my Bible and it opened to Psalms 120, verse 1. It reads "In my distress I cried to the Lord and he heard me".

   I read this then called the Mobile County DHR. They called a shelter, where I was put on that night's bed list. I also came in contact with a social worker with Catholic Services by dialing the wrong number - yeah, right. It was all God. The women in the Catholic Services office went to mass and prayed for me to get in a safe place, because my baby was due in a few weeks. Within 24 hours I was in Mary's Shelter. I had already had all my tests ran with results due to other shelters.

   Once at Mary's, I began to see how no one here judged me for my past and were only here to help me and my unborn child. I have been treated like a respectable human, for the first time in a long time. I have been able to work and supply my child's needs while I am safe and have shelter (private shelter). I cannot express how Mary's staff has helped to boost my self esteem and remind me that I am a person, a person who really isn't all that bad.

   I now believe in myself. I no longer feel that I am the person I used to be and am not ashamed of myself. This has come from the way these ladies have treated and accepted me with my past mistakes and all.

   I have another chance at life and raising my children. (Maybe this time, no, this time will be the last time I will be departed from my babies.). Thank God for these women and for Mary's Shelter. Mary's Shelter and the staff are truly a gift from God and thank you for believing and treating me like a human again.

(The above statement has been edited to protect the identity of our resident and of the social workers she mentions.)

 

 

A Mom's Story (October, 2009)

 

In her own words: "Mary's Shelter is a place for young women in need, and surely because of the wonderful staff there, I had a home in my time of need. My experience there was like no other experience in my lifetime (I mean in a good way). I came there with no hope and left with plenty. Words can't hold the gratefulness I have towards the Shelter and the staff. My time there was marvelous!"


    'T' was 19 years old and pregnant when she was admitted to Mary's Shelter from a domestic violence shelter. She had never lived by herself, was out of touch with her family and did not have a high school diploma. She decided that she wanted to get her GED (high-school equivalency degree) and began receiving tutoring at the shelter. 

   Unfortunately, 'T' developed complications in her pregnancy and went into labor prematurely. Her baby boy was born two months early, but both mother and son were able to eventually return to Mary's Shelter.

   One of her ambitions was to own a car.  So 'T' started by studying for her driving test - and passed on her first try! Then an 'angel' donated a car to her, which meant she was now able to start her job search - and she was able to find a part-time job in the food industry.  While working, she continued to study for her GED.  'T' was now ready to leave the shelter and join our Transitional Housing program.

   The Case Manager helped her locate various apartment options, but the apartment 'T' ended up renting turned out to be one she found on her own. The shelter was able to provide her with several pieces of furniture, a washing machines and other household goods, advanced her utility deposits and helped with rent payments for six months, in accordance with the Transitional Housing aid policy.

   After moving into her new apartment, 'T' realized she did not want to work in the food industry all of her life and decided to take a Certified Nursing Assistant course.  She worked with her employer to schedule her work hours in the evening and traveled to a nearby city every day for two weeks to take the classes.  She completed the course and received her certificate, and then applied for and obtained her State of Alabama license.

   In the meantime, 'T' took her GED test and passed the first time.   She then took her CNA license test and passed.  She was now eligible to work in a nursing home or hospital.

   'T' applied for a CNA job at a nursing home and was hired.  She was cautious, however, and did not feel comfortable giving up her part-time job.  She continued to work part-time during the day and worked at the nursing home on the 3 - 11 shift.  After about two months, she decided that she wanted to go to college and resigned from her part-time job in order to be able to spend more time with her son prior to starting school.

   'T' is now on her own, a mother and a full time student, and also continues to be employed as a nursing assistant at the nursing home. 

   'T' went from being homeless and pregnant, to who she is today: she has a full-time job with good benefits; she is a full-time student; she has her own apartment with the lease in her name.  And because the apartment lease and the utilities were in her name from her initial entry into the Transitional Housing program, 'T' now has a good credit history.

   Mary's Shelter is extremely proud of 'T' and will always think of her as part of the family.


Sheila's story - told in her own words in August, 2009

 

   "My name is Sheila. I am currently in Mary's Shelter's Assisted Living (Transitional Housing) program.

   I came to Mary's Shelter in August, 2007 - 7 months pregnant. I had completed a drug and alcohol (rehabilitation) program in Pensacola, Florida and I had no place to go when I graduated. I called around everywhere and I couldn't find a place for homeless pregnant women. I found a place in Ft. Walton, but you coud only stay there 6 weeks after the baby's born then you had to move. You could only stay there longer if you were going to adopt your baby out. The program was basically for adoption purposes. I wanted to keep my baby. I was finally clean and sober and I wanted to make a life for my baby.

   The place in Ft. Walton told me about Mary's Shelter, so I called. They agreed to meet with me. I was so nervous and scared when I came to the shelter. It was more than I could hope for and nicer than I could dream. Everybody was so nice and helpful. They had me a baby shower and helped me get clothes. After my baby was born, they saw to it I was able to find work and get back and forth. I saved my money and moved out a year later. 

   Me and my daughter are doing great. She is almost 2 and growing like a weed. I am still sober and doing good. I started with nothing; now I have a car, a mobile home, a job and a good church I am a member of. I could never say enough good things about Mary's Shelter and how much it done for me and my baby. We have a future now. Thank you Mary's Shelter."


The Mary's Shelter story

 

   Mary's Shelter Gulf Coast (MSGC) was incorporated in 2001 to address the needs of women experiencing an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy. It is patterned on other existing and successful Mary's Shelters in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, California and Florida. The original founder of these Mary's Shelters, Jan Lindsay, was instrumental in founding MSGC, together with a core group of like-minded parishioners from St. Thomas-by-the-Sea Catholic Church in Orange Beach, Alabama. Thanks to the support of area churches, businesses and individuals who believed in our mission of providing a home to women who were homeless, pregnant and in danger of aborting their baby, the Shelter opened its doors in the spring of 2006.


   The main area we serve covers the counties of Mobile, Baldwin and Escambia in Alabama, and Santa Rosa and Escambia counties in the state of Florida. These five counties average about 100 abortions per week. MSGC is the only charitable organization in this five-county area able to offer shelter and support to homeless, pregnant adult women, before and after the birth of their child.


   Mary's Shelter Gulf Coast is overseen by a 20-member volunteer Board of Directors. The facility is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. During the work day, our Executive Director oversees all aspects of operating the home. She is assisted by a Program Manager, who helps our residents set goals for their future, and meets with each resident on a regular basis to review their progress; an administrative assistant; and a grant researcher and writer. A housemother is always on the premises. Also, many volunteers help with all aspects of the program, from rocking babies, to preparing mailings and performing upkeep on our facility.


   Please join Mary's Shelter as we continue to discern how best to accomplish our Vision of caring for homeless pregnant women who choose life for their unborn child.