Foundation House Ministries Director Suzanne Burns hopes the residents of a city with a “church on every corner” will step up as host families for the nonprofit’s pregnant participants.
She equated the volunteer opportunity to a foreign-exchange student experience.
“This is not a tenant in the your house,” she said. “This is an extension of your love for the Lord and your love for the disadvantaged people in the community.”
Foundation House Ministries is one of the newest nonprofit organizations on the Cleveland and Bradley County scenes. It addresses the needs of women who find themselves in a crisis pregnancy situation with nowhere to turn. The nonprofit plans to come alongside the ladies for both the duration of their pregnancy and up to a year after the child’s birth.
Much help is needed from the community to provide the wind needed to help foundation’s mission soar.
Burns explained the purpose behind the host family model is twofold. First, the participants are provided a safe place to live full of love and peace. Second, the mother-to-be gets the opportunity to experience first-hand how a healthy family lives.
“It is really just a matter of living your life and letting her see that. Seeing you don’t have to be addicted to drugs and alcohol,” Burns said.
“There is a way to juggle soccer and ballet and homework and healthy meals. Show her the typical middle-class experience. Give her an opportunity to begin to picture in her mind she could attain that.”
A meeting with Burns and training precedes a host family’s involvement with the participant. Once both parties are in agreement of the needs and expectations, a lady will be placed with the family until the birth of her child.
Burns said the overall time commitment of host families will be three to six months.
She was quick to add the daily time commitment would be from dinner to breakfast. Participants involved with Foundation House Ministries will find themselves busy during the day with various classes and program requirements. Host families might find themselves wanting to see more of their pregnant guest.
According to Burns, almost any family would work well as a host family. She included couples with kids grown and out of the house, a couple who never had a child and couples with young kids. The only family dynamic that gives Burns pause are families with teenagers.
She said the teens of the household would be too close in age with the young participants.
Burns hopes families across town sign up for the volunteer effort.
“The important thing would be that [the family] is strong and stable, first of all. And then that they would have the room in their home,” she said. “She would need a separate bedroom.”
It is believed being placed in a home with young children could be very beneficial for the expecting mother. The opportunity will give her a chance to observe the needs of a child.
Added Burns, “Especially if they are toddlers. Toddlers require so much: early reading, singing songs and playing games. These activities correlate drastically with how well they do in school. For her to be able to see that would be really helpful.”
When asked what she would say to someone who did not think they could take on the task, Burns said she understood.
She also provided some food for thought.
“This is not an easy decision to make, but on the flip side, she needs great help and there are very few resources for her,” Burns said.
“If you believe we are called to go and make disciples of all nations, that we are called to care for the least of these, that we are called to do something with the resources God has given us, then you need to strongly consider this.
“It is not a lifelong choice. It is not a lifelong decision. What works today may not work six months from now.”
Burns said, “What you have to think is, ‘Could I do this?’”
She said she encourages anyone who has questions or interest in the opportunity to call. More information can be found by contacting Burns at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 400-2753.