With one small property, the Maggie’s Place family grew by leaps and bounds.
The Gerard House opened Aug. 1 in Phoenix’s Sunnyslope area as the third “boy” in the Maggie’s Place family that’s largely in the Valley with one house in Ohio. Despite a growing network of homes — five traditional homes serving pregnant moms and those with infants, an alumnae outreach center at The Fiat House and special transitional lodging at The Mary House — The Gerard House easily has distinguishable features.
It’s the first true transitional apartment complex to exclusively serve its alumnae moms and their family. The hope is to allow moms and up to three young children stay in one of its 11 furnished units for up to one year provided they stay on track with goals and such.
While a Maggie’s Place mom only has one child during her stay at its traditional houses, she might move on to have other children or might regain custody of older children after moving out.
The Gerard House is the first major building effort in which the nonprofit partnered with Catholic Charities Community Services, through its housing arm, Housing for Hope. Catholic Charities acquired the property from another nonprofit and worked with the city in a providential nine-month time span — and under budget — to make it livable again.
“The Gerard House is a community of love and support. It’s a continuation of the Maggie’s Place model,” Laura Magruder, executive director, said at the Aug. 1 grand opening.
An on-site supervisor and family coach will keep the moms accountable and coordinate community activities for the moms and kids.
“They’re most excited about having their own space,” said Cortney Ralbovsky, The Gerard House supervisor and family coach.
Three families had already moved in before the grand opening with four more scheduled to settle in by press time. She expected every unit — all one bedroom — to be full by month’s end.
“There’s some that can barely, barely, barely make their rent, so they can’t make any headway in order to get savings and pay off debt and not live in precarious paycheck to paycheck situations,” Ralbovsky said.
The Gerard House will help the moms establish a firmer foundation. Some 230 alumnae moms visit The Fiat House monthly for services, programs and assistance. They have an array of living arrangements: longer-term shelters, sharing space with family or trying to make ends meet on their own. Some moms happily finished out or parted with current leases to return to the Maggie’s Place community.
Shelters women who are pregnant or have young infants and extends resources to alumnae moms.
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, who has long championed the work of Maggie’s Place, was on hand for a blessing and tour.
“This house and all that’s done through Maggie’s Place witnesses to our firm belief that there’s a source of love. It’s God and all who surrender our lives to Him,” the bishop said.
A similar property two blocks north is slated to become Catholic Charities housing for female veterans.
“Anytime you come through the neighborhood you know there’s something special happening here and more to come,” said Paul Mulligan, executive director of Catholic Charities.