The Miracle Home
In 2005, His Caring Place was brought under the ministry of 4KIDS of South Florida, a nonprofit on a mission to find a home for every child in foster care due to abuse, abandonment or neglect. Formerly comprised of multi-site homes in Broward County, His Caring Place currently consists of one maternity home for women ages 16 – 23 and one Aftercare Home. Newborn babies can stay in the maternity home with their mothers for up to four months before they transition into their Aftercare Home for up to one year while they continue to develop life skills for independence. There the women learn to parent, find work, finish school, arrange day care and obtain reliable transportation. “It serves as a huge bridge to independence,” said Jessica Baxter, His Caring Place coordinator. In the future, His Caring Place hopes to open a third maternity home for younger teen girls in foster care where there is a growing need.
Affectionately called the Miracle Home, the maternity home wasn’t always as beautiful as it is today. Destroyed by Hurricane Wilma in October 2005, His Caring Place had to downsize for a while, but when they presented the need for a new home to the community on Mother’s Day 2006, the response was overwhelming. Individual contractors, big construction companies, and manufacturers began donating their time, materials and heart to rebuild the home. After a two-year battle for a building permit, volunteers and contractors came out in full force and the house was built in 2010-2011.
Because of this miraculous response, His Caring Place is well-equipped as a ministry tool for the young women and their babies who reside there, and every aspect of the design was purposeful, from the large kitchen where residents take turns cooking a shared meal to the large living area designed for regular fellowship and Bible study or the quaint parlor area where mothers can having some quiet time with their newborns.
Like a well-run household, the family schedule and chores are posted on the wall and photos line the hallways. During their stay, residents complete five intentional classes: pregnancy, infant basic care, parenting, life skills and healthy choices. They participate in Bible studies, attend church, hold family meetings, and on Fridays they relax, sometimes with movies, ice cream or a special outing. The girls are expected to be in school or working while also working toward personal goals, such as restoring relationships, saving money or learning to drive. Each girl completes an individualized service plan with a case manager who helps them find employment by preparing them to build a resume and interview for jobs. They also develop an Aftercare Plan, which may include future housing options, reconnecting with family and arranging child care.
But the real redemption story is in the lives that are saved two at a time.
At 22 years-old, Lorraine Medrano was almost six months pregnant and was unable to stay in her Grandmother’s low-income housing. She wasn’t with the father, didn’t have a job or car and wasn’t stable. The caseworkers and volunteers at His Caring Place helped Lorraine attend Atlantic Technical Center where she was trained as an administrative assistant specialist. “The rules were there to help us be more disciplined and grow closer to God… And the first bath I gave my baby was with my house mom. I was scared because she was so small and fragile,” she remembers. Today Lorraine is married, her daughter Aiyanna is 4-years-old and she has a 9-month-old son. “His Caring Place really made a difference in my life. The girls come in there with nothing and leave with a sense of knowing God has bigger plans for us. It’s not just your situation,” said Lorraine.
Ashton Rossi was a resident of His Caring Place in 2011 beginning in the maternity phase and moving on to their independent living program with another mom. Having left a violent relationship in North Carolina, Ashton moved to Florida to meet her real dad. She soon found out she was pregnant. His Caring Place was there for her when she didn’t have anyone. “They helped me go back to school as a medical assistant, helped me get medical insurance. My house parent became like a second mom to me,” she said, “and the other girls were like my sisters.” Today, she and her 5-year-old son, Gabriel, have returned to North Carolina where she works full time and is in nursing school. “I don’t know where we would have been without His Caring Place, said Ashton. They were a critical part of my life.” Her stay there was a time to refocus and work through things in her life. “It was a constant feeding of the Word, being refreshed on different aspects of the Bible and how it relates to our life.”
Join His Caring Place for a 30th Anniversary Dessert Night on April 14. To register, visit www.4kidsofsfl.org/dessertnight. For more on the ministry, visit www.4kidsofsfl.org/his-caring-place-home.
For more articles by Shelly Pond, please visit goodnewsfl.org/author/shelly/