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Nazareth Home in East Chicago closing after 27 years of service to children
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Nazareth Home in East Chicago closing after 27 years of service to children

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Nazareth Home in East Chicago closing after 27 years of service to children

Gwen Walters, an associate of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, sits with a 7-month-old from the Nazareth Home during a pancake breakfast in 2017. The group home has closed after 27 years.

After more than a quarter century, no children are living at Nazareth Home, the East Chicago-based 24-hour group home for medically compromised babies and children. Its operator, the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, announced the home's closure last week after more than 25 years of service to Indiana children.

Nazareth Home closed over the weekend.

“This is a sad time for all of us. We can take comfort, when we remember all the special children, over the past 25+ years, who have better lives because they received spiritual, emotional and physical care at Nazareth Home,” said Sister Joetta Huelsmann of Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ in an announcement of the decision.

The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ founded Nazareth Home in 1993 to take care of abused and abandoned children with unique medical needs. It served hundreds of children from newborn to age 6 who were referred there by the Indiana Department of Child Services.

Nazareth Home provided medical, spiritual, and emotional care in a home setting in a quiet residential neighborhood in East Chicago, fostering children's early development.

Two years ago, Nazareth Home received a license to be a group home, but the federal Family First Act became law shortly after, drastically reducing the number of foster kids placed in group homes. The population at Nazareth Home dwindled to the point that in mid-July there were no resident children, and The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ made the decision to disband the home.

The Nazareth Home employed medical care providers and child care professionals, relying also on a group of volunteers to cuddle with the abandoned children.

"We are grateful for all the time you have volunteered at the Nazareth Home," Ancilla Systems Executive Director Sister Mary Ellen Goeller wrote in a letter to volunteers informing them of the closure. "You gave of your time to provide love to so many of the children."

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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