Gianna House nurtures new mothers, babies

Pregnancy & Parenting Residence holding fundraiser

By: Maria Allard | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published November 22, 2021

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EASTPOINTE — On Nov. 12, Joella Bush was on her way to pick up a young lady and her 2-month-old premature baby to bring them to Gianna House Pregnancy & Parenting Residence.

The new mother was anxious but also excited about the support she would receive at the facility, located in the former convent home of St. Veronica Catholic Church at 21357 Redmond Ave. in Eastpointe.

“She feels she’ll be going into a stable situation,” said Bush, Gianna House executive director.

Gianna House provides a safe residence for young women — some of whom are still teenagers — and their newborn infants in need of a temporary place to live. The young ladies, who are pregnant when they first come to the facility, have found themselves alone without family support or, due to different circumstances, are homeless.

“Typically, when I receive a call, they are in crisis,” Bush said. “They are afraid.”

In some cases, the women have left domestic violence situations, have dealt with substance abuse or have suffered traumatic childhoods. Sometimes, the father is in the baby’s life, but not always. The goal of Gianna House is to provide support to the young ladies as they prepare for the birth of their children.

Gianna House Pregnancy & Parenting Residence has two programs: a residential program and an outreach program. The residential program is for mothers-to-be age 25 and younger from the tri-county area. They live at the Pregnancy & Parenting Residence while pregnant and up to one year after their babies are born.

“They need a safe place to go and have their baby. By the time they come to us, they’ve been so beaten down already and they are so young. They’re the kids that have fallen through the cracks. Sometimes, they haven’t seen a doctor. We make sure they get medical care,” Gianna House Board of Directors President Cynthia Greening said. “We’re trying to give someone a hand so they can grow and be ready to take care of themselves. They have an opportunity to get better prepared to go out in the world.”

The residential program has a north and south wing. To make it feel like home, the south wing has four mommy/baby suites complete with a bed, crib, dresser, sink, closet space and more. The north wing has room for three bedrooms but is not occupied, as it needs to be remodeled. The goal is to renovate the area to add space for three more occupants and their newborns.

According to Bush, the majority of the young women still need to finish high school and are enrolled in a virtual program to earn their diplomas. Some of the girls also make plans to attend college.

The moms-to-be stay at the home at no cost. Currently, Gianna House does not receive money from the state. About 30% of its funding is through fundraising, and 70% is from private donations. Local churches take up monthly diaper collections and, “we have a lot of support with the Knights of Columbus,” Greening said.

While in the residential program, the occupants are busy each day participating in various classes, including life skills, career planning, safe sleep and parenting. They are also on a spiritual journey. The girls are responsible for creating a menu and grocery list each week, cook meals for the crew and clean up the kitchen. The residents can earn “baby bucks” to shop at the Gianna House boutique to purchase items for their babies and themselves.

“Sometimes, the baby’s father comes and visits,” Bush said. “We schedule parenting time for the baby.” The family can spend time in the courtyard or great room.

Bush and the other staff members get to know the women very well over the course of their stays.

“I can see where the ladies start and where they are today,” Bush said. “I’ll see some growth. We want them to be self-sufficient and better today than yesterday.”

The outreach program is for mothers of any age who need support, including diapers, wipes, clothing and essential items such as strollers. Referral services also are available. Those who receive assistance do not reside at Gianna House.

Gianna House Pregnancy & Parenting Residence has launched a GoFundMe fundraiser to support critical services. The campaign goal is $100,000 and is running through Nov. 29. To make a monetary donation, visit gofund.me/553b7cc1.

For more information on Gianna House, visit www.giannahouse.org or call (586) 445-0440.

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