Gianna House celebrates opening of first residential home for pregnant teens in Michigan
May 8, 2019
Eastpointe pregnancy resource center expands, providing shelter for up to six new moms
EASTPOINTE — Four years ago, Gianna House opened its doors as a resource center for pregnant women and new mothers in Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties. This month, the staff at the pregnancy center opened a new set of doors, this time to the much-anticipated residence for pregnant teens ages 13 to 17.
Located at the former convent of St. Veronica Parish in Eastpointe, Gianna House is named after St. Gianna Baretta Molla, who refused a doctor-recommended hysterectomy during her fourth pregnancy in 1961 to save the life of her unborn child.
The new Gianna House residence was the site of a ribbon cutting ceremony on May 3 to celebrate the licensing of the facility with the state of Michigan. It is the first certified, nonprofit, long-term residence for pregnant teens in the state.
The goal of Gianna House is to provide a safe and loving home for pregnant teens and their newborn infants. Staff and volunteers offer spiritual, medical, educational and parenting support in addition to continuing to offer resources for underserved pregnant women.
Teenage girls age 13-17 may stay at the residence throughout the pregnancy and for up to one year after the baby is delivered with the consent of their parents. The home can accommodate up to six teens and their infants. Young women receive room and board, prenatal care, counseling, and individual and group classes in Lamaze, nutrition, infant care, breastfeeding and parenting.
When the first residents move in, they will be welcomed by a live-in house mother, residential monitors, a social worker and a program manager who will oversee day-to-day activities. The teens will learn how to cook their own meals and contribute to the household.
“The young women who stay with us could be homeless or living in an unsafe or unstable home, or they might be in a home that is fine but the parents and their daughter decide together that this living situation will be the best for her to learn life skills and work toward achieving her goals,” said Jennifer Brubaker, executive director of Gianna House.
The teen’s parents and the biological father of the baby are encouraged to be involved throughout the pregnancy, if possible.
“You can’t tell pregnant women not to get an abortion and then not provide support,” Brubaker said. “It’s important for us to be here for them throughout the pregnancy and beyond, whether they become a resident or use our other services.”
Gianna House has served as a pregnancy resource center since 2015. Last year, the center helped 120 mothers, providing 1,400 baby items such as diapers, formula, car seats, baby clothing and other essentials. Mothers-to-be and new moms may earn “baby bucks” toward these items by attending parenting classes at Gianna House. Not only do the classes give women skills and confidence, but they offer a chance to meet others in similar situations.
“This group of women form a wonderful network of experiences with each other,” Brubaker said. “They really become a close-knit family and support one another.”
For residents, the friendship and safety at Gianna House will allow them to focus on a healthy pregnancy. With the help they’ll receive, they can continue their education and make plans for life after the baby arrives.
“These teens are already dealing with issues like peer pressure and bullying, and a bad home life for some,” Brubaker said. “We aim to give them the support they need to reach their goals, whether they choose adoption or parenting.”
After a young mother gives birth, she and her newborn are welcome to stay at Gianna House for a year. If they choose to move out, Gianna House staff supports them with ongoing services and support. After the baby reaches one year old, the mother and baby are placed in an after-care program with monthly check-ins. Whether they are former residents at Gianna House or clients at the resource center, mothers are welcome to reach out for assistance long after their initial needs are met.