By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Along with the Gardner Simmons Home for Girls’ new mission to help pregnant girls, the organization has rebranded the maternity home.
The Providence House Maternity Home for Girls will operate under Gardner Simmons Home for Girls, Inc. to provide a safe home for pregnant girls to carry their child to term.
The home opened its doors to its first new resident Monday, Jan. 7, and a second resident will be moving in this week.
Shane Robbins, interim executive director of the home, said the initial response to the change in service has been positive and the staff is happy to see girls in the house again.
“They’re real excited because we’re the only home of this nature in the entire state,” Robbins said. “The only non-therapeutic crisis pregnancy residential home.”
The house is open to girls between the ages of 12 and 21 who are pregnant and feel they can’t safely carry their baby to term in their current living situation.
“So far the girls that are coming are very sweet girls, between the ages of 14 and 19,” Robbins said. “They’re really sweet girls who have gotten themselves in a predicament where they could use our services.”
The staff at the house works to keep the girls healthy during their pregnancy and also on track with their education.
“We want to address their physical needs, making sure they have good medical care, emotional needs, by having a counselor come in, and also their spiritual needs,” Robbins said. “I would love to see churches be involved and mentor the girls here.”
The cost of running the house is $1,800 per girl and the Providence House passes some of the expense along to the residents on a sliding scale based on their income.
“We don’t expect anyone to be able to pay that,” Robbins sad. “Some of the residents are going to pay a small fraction and no one on the scale pays the full $1,800, so we rely a lot on community support.”
He said they are looking for community support in the form of financial donations, people to invest time in the residence and people to donate items of need.
The Gumtree Quilters Guild is donating baby quilts for each baby born in the home. Robbins said he would like to see a church or organization similarly sign up to donate a stroller and car seat for each child born in the home so the mothers can take the items with them.