Donna Monroe, one of the new moms who attended the holiday baby shower at Gianna House in December, with her son Bryston.
Sister Helen Susalla, CSJ, wrapping presents for expectant and new moms this past Christmas at Gianna House.
Gianna House, a Pregnancy and Parenting Center that helps new and expectant moms who are in need of baby clothing and other essential parenting items, hosted a holiday baby shower on December 19th for 25 area women. Located inside the former St. Veronica Convent in Eastpointe, Michigan, sisters from our founding community of Nazareth in Kalamazoo volunteered along with many others to help make this event a reality.
Sister Helen Susalla, CSJ, (above), spent much time on the phone taking and later confirming reservations. She also wrapped many donated gifts which allowed each mom present a gift of her choice during the evening’s raffle. Sisters Clement Stine and Sylvia Dimeck were among those who crocheted items that were used as gifts, and Sisters Rita Jeanne Ferrante and Nancy Martin helped with mailings and are often on-hand to help with whatever needs to be done.
In addition to our sisters, many others gave of their time, talent, and treasure which allowed Gianna House to offer this wonderful evening of enrichment for the mothers who enjoyed a meal, beautiful raffle gifts, a large infant gift bag, gift bag for themselves, a presentation on the importance of reading to infants, and a tote bag with children’s books.
Since most of the guests did not know each other, the evening began with an icebreaker allowing the women to meet and chat. Next was a wonderful presentation on the importance of reading to infants by Cathy Rostoni, a reading specialist from St. Clair Shores Lakeview Schools who contributed a book to add to each of 25 reading tote bags donated by Macomb Intermediate School District.
Prayers for both infants and mothers were then said and all moved into the dining room to enjoy a meal prepared and served by many Gianna House volunteers who also served as elves helping with the raffle and gifting. Gianna House board member Tom Masson was on hand again this year to take portrait photos of each mom and her infant.
Gianna House is still undergoing renovations that once complete, will allow it to house 7 – 10 expectant young mothers at a time. In addition to providing a safe, loving environment for them and their newborns, the girls will also learn parenting skills, receive spiritual care, and at some point, have access to educational opportunities such as GED preparation, as well as job preparation skills and career planning counseling.
Gianna House was founded by Sister Diane Masson, CSSF, who is working alongside Sister Theresa Mayrand, OP, Associate Director, and a board of directors to get the house ready for its first residents. “We are a home for pregnant girls, 17 years and younger, who find themselves without the resources, and most importantly, the love and support needed to bring their children into the world,” said Sister Diane.
“God has laid it on our hearts to care for some of the most vulnerable among us as if they were our own,” said Sister Theresa. “This mission is at the heart of Gianna House.”
The Congregation of St. Joseph has a deep connection to St. Veronica Parish. For almost 90 years, our sisters from the founding community of Nazareth taught and were in parish ministry there, with several still living in the convent that will become Gianna House until as recently as 2013. The Congregation will continue to help support the mission of Gianna House with whatever resources are needed.
To learn more about Gianna House and how you might help, click here.