Streator outreach for mothers gets Catholic Charities boost

Photo Caption: Sister Ana Pia Cordua, SCTJM, executive director of Catholic Charities, at ribbon cutting ceremonies for the new location of Guardian Angel Outreach for Mothers with Joyce Redfern and Misty Gula.

By: By Tom Dermody

STREATOR — One client called it a “lifesaver” that “stepped in when I couldn’t provide for my children.” Another suggested the Guardian Angel Outreach for Mothers likely has kept some women from having abortions.

And now, the parish-based outreach that has helped nearly 200 young women and their children in need over the past five years is getting some much appreciated assistance itself, thanks to a new partner — Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Peoria.

Representatives from Catholic Charities were on hand last Sunday for a “grand re-opening” at the new location for Guardian Angel Outreach for Mothers, 405 S. Illinois St. Formerly in rented office space downtown, the outreach dedicated to supporting new mothers from conception through the first two years of their babies’ lives is now located in the former St. Casimir’s rectory, just a block from St. Michael the Archangel Church.

“We thank Msgr. (Philip) Halfacre and Father (Dustin) Schultz, who were so open to allowing this partnership,” said Sister Ana Pia Cordua, SCTJM, executive director of Catholic Charities, before she joined Guardian Angel representatives in cutting a ribbon attached to the new yard sign.

Guardian Angel Outreach for Mothers thus became the newest addition to Catholic Charities, which has been undergoing a restructuring since it ceased taking state funding nearly a year ago.

The outreach is now a collaboration between St. Michael the Archangel Parish and Catholic Charities. Workers from Catholic Charities helped renovate the former rectory for its new use and will assist in procuring and coordinating other resources, including for the Spanish-speaking population.

“This ministry works towards building a better home and family environment, giving women a support network and resources to provide a better start for their children,” said Misty Gula, director of Guardian Angel Outreach for Mothers since last October.

She gave visitors to the new facility tours during an open house prior to the ribbon cutting. Gula explained how new mothers not only receive diapers — 936 packages were given away in 2012 — but also learn parenting skills, are given guidance including prenatal and postnatal education, and qualify for assistance with ongoing infant needs such as wipes and clothing.

Clients earn “points” by reading parenting articles, taking parenting classes, keeping doctor appointments, etc. “All our moms are really hard workers,” she said.

So are the volunteers, who also enjoy meeting the new mothers and babies.

“Mostly, we’re retired women who respect life and we want to help young mothers who need a helping hand,” said Sharon Warfield, a volunteer who spoke at a reception following the open house.

“It’s very rewarding. How could it not be?” she added, inviting others to join the 15 women who now volunteer.

The center is open from noon to 5 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. No appointment is necessary.

Sister Ana Pia said it is her hope that the system in place in Streator can be duplicated elsewhere as a way to put pro-life beliefs into action. She said the ministry is not only for infants and toddlers, but for children inside their mother’s womb “that they may be received with great joy.”

“We will provide some, and the Lord will provide more,” she assured.


How you can help

Guardian Angel Outreach for Mothers in Streator is in need of:

— Volunteers, especially those who speak Spanish (one afternoon a month is a good start)

— Diapers, especially sizes 4 and 5

— Cash or gift-card donations to help purchase parenting videos, meet other needs

— Car seats, laptop computer, a kitchen stove, new television to show parenting videos

The ministry has also benefitted from individuals forgoing birthday parties for “baby showers” to benefit Guardian Angel.

Checks can be made out to Catholic Charities with “Guardian Angel” in the memo line. Send to Guardian Angel Outreach for Mothers, 405 S. Illinois, Streator, IL 61364. Call Misty Gula at (815) 672-4567 for more information.

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