July 17, 2013 | Last Updated: Jul 17, 2013 - 6:07 UTC
Women "dealing with crisis pregnancies" in Windsor and Essex County will soon be provided with a different choice.
In decades past they were called homes for unwed mothers and they were relatively common. But Tuesday, organizers put the shovel in the ground to begin construction of what will be the area's only group home for pregnant women who plan on keeping their babies, the Our Lady of Guadalupe Non-Profit Home for Women in Crisis Pregnancy.
"Many girls I've met on the street find themselves pregnant out-of-wedlock and they panic, feeling their life is over," said Sister Linda Dube, president of the organization's board of directors. "Someone said to me 'what are you doing to help these women?'" Dube said she felt called upon to offer an alternative to abortion. The sod turning, on a vacant lot at Alexandrine Street and Remington Avenue, for a seven-room raised ranch-style house to be completed over the winter, was the answer.
Dube said she understands that onethird of pregnant young women opt for surgical abortions and, of those she has met, the vast majority stated that they felt "I had no other choice." The new home will give them that option, offering support, counselling and training in baby and home care while providing the opportunity for them to resume or continue their education.
Dube said the home will follow the model of the Fresh Start home in St. Thomas, the nearest such facility to Windsor outside of Michigan. Members of the new team will travel to St. Thomas to learn how that facility is run. She expects "several people" will be needed to staff the Windsor home seven days a week. The home will be "strictly non-denominational."
Asked how much the house would cost, Dube would not reveal the amount without board approval, although
she did add construction has been paid for through donations and community support. To operate the home, she added, more fundraising will be needed and she was confident the cash can be raised.
"I hope the Lord will inspire people to open their pocketbooks," she said. "Thy will be done. All we ask is nothing more and nothing less."
Asked why the old concept of a home for unwed mothers had largely faded away Dube replied that Canada's abortion laws have made that option more attractive and it was "easier to choose that to solve the problem." But, she added, it's a choice many regret and may not have made if someone had offered a group home setting with a house-mother and peer support.
However, she noted, with up to only eight spaces available at a time, she believes the need far outstrips the supply. "This is groundbreaking in every way," said Colette MacNeil, one of the board's directors. "There is no facility to provide residential support in Windsor or Essex County. This fills a serious gap in pregnancy and well-baby care ... No matter what side you're on in this issue of choice, we can celebrate this together ... There will be a whole range of supports for those who choose to have their babies."
That information even seemed to catch some of the dignitaries in attendance by surprise.
"This fills a tremendous gap in our community that I was not aware existed," said MPP Taras Natyshak (NDP - Essex). "I would have thought that (this kind of) service would be available ... But here we are in 2013 and this is just coming to fruition ... It should be shouted from the rooftops. This is here to help."
MP Jeff Watson (C - Essex), a longtime pro-life supporter, acknowledged that, for many young women who become pregnant while in school or beginning a career, "the choice is not always an easy one." He said the crisis intervention, counselling, oversight and support provided by a the new home will be essential.