Addition helps new mothers

2012-12-02T00:00:00Z 2012-12-02T22:22:07Z Addition helps new mothersVanessa Renderman vanessa.renderman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3244 nwitimes.com

DYER | A recurring theme appears in the decor of the new parenting facility on the Franciscan St. Margaret Health hospital campus: inspirational quotes written or hung on the walls.

"Every day is a gift." "Be the change you wish to see in the world." "You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose."

The messages, placed in bedrooms, hallways and communal living spaces, serve as positive reminders to the girls who will live there, said Elizabeth Guzman-Arredondo, program manager and social worker for the maternity and parenting programs at St. Monica Home.

The 2,300-square-foot facility is separate from the maternity building that has housed pregnant girls between 12 and 21 years old since 1994.

It is separately licensed and focuses on supporting and educating girls who already have given birth. The open house was Nov. 14, and the facility is awaiting its first residents, Guzman-Arredondo said.

Set up like a traditional home with the feel of a college dorm for girls, the parenting facility has five bedrooms, each with its own bathroom and child sleeping area.

It can house up to 10 residents, including infants. The open concept main living area connects the kitchen, front room and child play area, she said.

No detail was overlooked, including using the space under the staircases for storage instead of sealing them with walls.

"They did not hold back on anything," she said.

The front room couch includes a pull-out bed for girls who have a hard time dealing with the quiet of the night. They can watch TV and talk to a staff member as they fall asleep, Guzman-Arredondo said.

During the day, girls will attend school, look for jobs, go to doctor appointments and learn independent living skills.

Tom Gryzbek, president of Franciscan St. Margaret Health hospitals in Dyer and Hammond, said the building helps carry out the Franciscan mission.

Nothing could be more noble and important than to give a young person with a child a good start in life, he said.

The design of the facility, allowing multiple new young mothers to live in one building, will help remind them they're not isolated in their experiences, he said.

"It's nice to share that journey with other young mothers," Gryzbek said.

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