By Georgiana Francisco | Correspondent
The more than 100 who gathered to celebrate Good Counsel Homes-South Jersey not only honored its pro-life advocates, but heard compelling stories from the people they work so tirelessly to serve.
“When I came to Good Counsel two years ago, I had just been released from the mental health unit at a hospital, having been diagnosed with PTSD, depression and anxiety,” said Melissa, a client at Good Counsel Homes, which provides assistance to homeless, pregnant women and their children. “I was pregnant and had another child to bring with me. I can tell you, I did not want to be here! I didn’t want to live with nine other women, but I had no other options.”
After her second child was born, she went on to earn her high school diploma – 17 years after dropping out of school – and now has a job. Good Counsel volunteers are now helping her find a place of her own.
“Good Counsel helped make this a reality for me,” she said, adding, “I want to end with a message to the other moms here … No matter what, you will get through this. We have chosen to be mothers to our babies for a reason.”
Melissa’s message was among the highlights of the 12th annual fundraising banquet, held Oct. 25 in Cinnaminson, as staff, supporters and clients celebrated the lives of the 77 babies born since the Riverside location opened seven years ago and paid tribute to the facility’s co-founder William J. Klatt, who died in March. John and Donna Kurtz, founders of the nonprofit St. Joseph’s House, which serves a similar mission in Coatesville, Pa., served as keynote speakers.
Klatt was honored posthumously as a man known to have passion for the pro-life cause.
“Today his legacy lives on through the mothers and babies who have called Good Counsel home,” said Jeffrey Kasko, South Jersey leadership team member.
Currently home to nine mothers and seven babies, the South Jersey facility helps mothers earn GED certificates, enroll in nursing school and attend community colleges, among other educational choices. Mothers also participate in a life skills program, learning nutrition, general parenting, finances, job preparedness and computer skills.
Said Joanne DiNoia of the South Jersey leadership team, “I was the program director when we opened the doors of this house in April 2011. … Seven years later, we can see all the lives that we have touched. We don’t always see the end of that touch, but we know God has sent them to us. We only hope we gave them the skills and the love they needed to be independent.”