MESA — For the 24 inches or so of space that newborns occupy, the first babies and their moms who will call The Hannah House “home” have plenty of room to grow.
The original 1,300-square-foot home more than doubled in size before officially opening in mid-August. It’s the newest community home among a Phoenix-based network of houses offering material and emotional support to pregnant and newly parenting moms.
Maggie’s Place leaders foresee adding casitas on its property behind The Hannah House in the next five years to serve moms as they transition into independent living. External storage space is already a necessity. The Hannah House, which sits near Christ the King Parish, once belonged to the church..
The Hannah House joins the Magdalene, Elizabeth and Michael houses in Arizona’s Maggie’s Place family plus The Zechariah House in Ohio. It will operate the same as the others: four mission corps staff live in community with pregnant moms and their infants who are up to six months old.
Through prayer, accountability and a network of volunteer and professional resources, the live-in staff will motivate moms as they learn basic life and parenting skills. A fish-themed paper mural above the long dining table will acknowledge a mom’s achievements big and small with a bubble indicating each milestone.
“When the babies arrive, they get guppies for the babies,” said Gretchen Smith, director general of The Hannah House.
Their milestones get celebrated too. A baby’s arrival also means the mom moves to the other side of the house into her own room furnished for new life. A pair of scouts working toward their Eagle Scout and Gold Award spearheaded the design and furnishing of two rooms. A new social justice ministry with St. Bridget Parish in Mesa outfitted the third.
Julie Parchesky, a parishioner, regularly visited The Hannah House when the bedroom had drywall but no floor. She has enjoyed watching the progression and even brought in her 4-month-old-daughter quite often.
“She’s making sure all the babies are going to like it,” Parchesky quipped.
Chances are they will. Maggie’s Place has served more than 800 alumnae moms and their children since it was established 15 years ago. Roughly 90 moms across its four established homes live at Maggie’s Place each year. Its Arizona homes are always at capacity — supporting six to eight moms each — with a constant flow of calls from women seeking a safe place to stay.
“This is the first time many moms experience a healthy community/family environment,” Smith said.
She said embracing core values of community, hospitality, love and excellence sustains such an environment. It took an army of volunteers and hired help to create The Hannah House. Alumni staff, groups at Christ the King Parish, the National Charity League and Texas Roadhouse sponsored various rooms. Sometimes there were excess donations that went to Maggie’s Thrift, a secondhand store that has exponentially aided operating costs.
Mattress Firm took care of the mattresses, box springs and bedframes. The Hannah House staff is ready to welcome its first moms.
“Sometimes moms would come in and they’d start crying,” said Smith, who spent a year serving at The Elizabeth House in Tempe. From the kitchen stool of The Hannah House that offers views of a nine-foot stained glass courtyard installation, a modern kitchen, a private parenting wing and simple, but elegant design throughout, she added, “I can only imagine what the reaction will be when they come in [here].”
It’s been a little quiet, so we’re ready for the bustle of babies.”