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updated: 9/15/2011 6:28 PM

Mooseheart, charity open teen maternity home

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  • The South Carolina house at Mooseheart can provide a place to live for up to five unwed pregnant teenagers.

      The South Carolina house at Mooseheart can provide a place to live for up to five unwed pregnant teenagers.
    courtesy of Mooseheart

 
 

Maternity Homes of Fox Valley and Mooseheart Child City and School have given a pregnant unwed teenager a place to call home. And there is room to help more girls.

The two have teamed up to offer lodging and education to girls 12 to 17 who, for whatever reason, can't stay with their families.

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Five girls and their babies can be accommodated in the house on the Mooseheart campus, located between Batavia and North Aurora.

There will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4 p.m. Sunday, though the home is already open to one girl, said Cristina Emigh, executive director of Maternity Homes in Aurora. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services signed off on the plan several weeks ago, she said.

"This has been a vision and a dream for four years," said Emigh, who is from Geneva.

With the permission of their legal guardians, girls can stay in the home for up to 10 weeks after the birth of their child. They can attend classes at Mooseheart schools. The Visiting Nurse Association of the Fox Valley will provide counseling.

Emigh has a special interest in helping these girls, because she gave birth at age 17. Maternity Homes hopes to raise enough money to eventually run a second, transitional home at Mooseheart. That home would help the women through age 22.

The main supporters of Maternity Homes of Fox Valley are Christ Community Church of St. Charles, Ginger Creek Community and First Presbyterian churches of Aurora, and Pregnancy Support Services. However, girls from anywhere are welcome, Emigh said.

Mooseheart came to Emigh's attention as she was driving by, during a time the group was searching for a place to open a home, she said. She wasn't sure exactly what Mooseheart was, and thought it was an orphanage. When she mentioned it to her board of directors, one, a Moose International member, suggested asking Mooseheart for help. Mooseheart already had DCFS licensure.

The residence will be offered for free.

If there are more than five girls who need a home, Maternity Homes will work with Safe Families, a Christian social work organization that temporarily places children in crisis, including pregnant girls, with families.

"We don't ever want to say there is no room at the inn for a pregnant teen in need," Emigh said.

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