Dear Friend of the Philomena House,
This March we were busy putting warm winter clothes on a beautiful baby girl born to one of our mothers in February. At that time three other women were awaiting the birth of their babies. By April, two more beautiful babies had arrived, a boy and a girl. All the babies are making great progress in their growth and development. The boy smiles, when he chooses. The highlight of the photography session of last Saturday was when he shared a huge smile with our volunteer photographer. The last young woman living with us, is due in mid-July, but just now she is regularly attending the classes needed to earn her GED.
Recently I asked one of our guests how she would describe Philomena House. “The Philomena House is comfortable, supportive and safe”. All of us at the House are so very grateful to each of our benefactors who help us provide this stable ‘home’ for these young women.
This spring, volunteers remodeled our basement to create a recreation space including a microwave oven and a small refrigerator. The room is a cozy pink with an oil painting and a watercolor print on the wall. The women love the room with its comfy chairs. We have good DVD and VHS movies but nothing to play them on since our donated TV stopped working. If you have an extra one you could donate we would appreciate it.
Many of you know that after more than four years of selfless service, Sharon King, our first residential housemother has retired. Typical of Sharon she continues to volunteer and has been invaluable in orienting her replacements. Sierra Lobby, will join Judy Lagowski as the new housemothers. Our guests will continue to be well supported, following Sharon’s outstanding example. Sierra is a college psychology major and will be a senior this fall. She is from Minnesota with strong pro-life roots. She has spent hours as a sidewalk counselor outside abortion clinics in both St. Paul and New York.
Plans for opening the Majella House are moving forward. We hope this additional home serving pregnant women who are both homeless and have other children will open in mid-June. It is an answer to our prayers, patterned after the Philomena House, and organized under our 501c3. We will happily accept donations for the Majella House. Just make your check to Majella House and we will direct it to their account.
All of us at Philomena House continue to be very grateful for the generosity of all our contributors and volunteers whose hearts and hands do God’s work.
Joyce Nevins, Director
We welcomed three newborn baby girls in March and one baby boy in April. All babies are thriving and enjoying the attentions of many “moms” who volunteer and babysit here. Now we can serve four guests at a time plus two housemothers.
Philomena House is happy to be a recent recipient of a grant
…a Social Impact Grant from the Catholic Community Foundation (CCF). This grant was made possible by many donors – past and present – whose annual generosity and belief in the power of endowment has allowed CCF to steward and grow endowment funds. These funds provide annual grants to meet the greatest needs in our community.
Family living is our model
At Philomena House each mother has her own bedroom with a crib for her newborn. Once a week, we hold “family meetings” during which the the director names her concerns and mothers have their “say” about life at Philomena House. These family meetings serve to create a harmonious living situation among people who don’t know each other really well.
To further enhance orderly family living, the House has a set of rules and regulations that guests agree to before moving in. After three years of trial and usage, these rules have proven to be beneficial and supportive of our goal: to help lead our guests toward independent living.
Good nutrition is paramount
To maintain the health of our expectant mothers, we have a nutrition plan in place, which we evaluate regularly. In that way, we can know that our guests are eating properly for their own well-being and that of their babies.
Our mothers may stay up to a year
We keep these young mothers until they’re ready to leave. Once they’ve made life choices such as jobs and housing, they want to go. The mothers who have left too early often regret it and want to come back.
Site visits from our benefactors
We have an upcoming site visit from the Minnesota Department of Health, an annual event that we welcome. Also, one of our benefactors, the Catholic Community Foundation, paid us a nice visit and gave us a grant.
Thank you for your contributions
Your contributions mean everything to us.
The money you send goes directly into a fund that buys emergency clothing, eyeglasses, affordable entertainment and more! We need these things on an everyday basis. Please continue your generosity. Know that you are making a huge contribution to the safety and personal growth of young mothers who depend on us.
After three years of operating Philomena House, we understand that God wanted this haven for young, homeless mothers. You have been an enormous help in so many ways:
prayers, volunteering, gifts of baby clothes and money. Thank you.
We keep you in our prayers and ask that you pray for us too. We feel the “lift” of those prayers in meeting the everyday challenges we encounter at Philomena House.
Joyce E. Nevins, Director
PS. Our guests at Philomena House would welcome your contributions of your used DVDs or videos. Subject matter should be enteraining and uplifting, suitable for young women aged 18 to 26. Contact me at 651-488-9652.
See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.The reason the world does not know usis that it did not know Him.Beloved, we are God’s children now; It does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. –1 John, 3
Thanks to God and all of you, we at Philomena House have been serving homeless, expectant mothers since May 24, 2014 – more than two years now.
We’ve come a long way in a short time
A relatively new program, Philomena House has achieved remarkable, early successes in serving pregnant, homeless women, ages 18 to 26 in Minnesota.
• More than 50% of all guests stayed in the program
• Each guest mom delivered a healthy baby who continues to thrive
• Noteworthy individual achievements include
— high school graduation
— attendance in a community college
— a commercial driver’s license
None of these outcomes would be predicted for a pregnant woman suffering
What’s inspiring is that each young woman who comes to us says that she prayed to God to help her find help such as ours.
Your prayers and contributions have helped make this level of success possible. In your charity, please keep us top-of-mind. Send us your contribution today, so we may continue our success in providing a safe shelter for expectant, homeless young women. Enclosed is a self-addressed envelope for your convenience.
Baby girl Aubrielle came to us in early August when her guest mother gave birth. Everyone here remarked at what a beautiful child she is.
We are now housing and counseling three expectant mothers, two due in October and one in November, so Philomena House is a happy, busy place.
As director, I am doing a year-long evaluation of nutrition for homeless, pregnant women for the Minnesota Department of Health, our grantor. The study will have us shopping by nutrition labels for protein, low salt and carbohydrates, sugar and vitamins. I’m cooking one meal a month for our Philomena House family, based on the study.
Young women come to us desperate, with many issues, including health problems in addition to the pregnancy. Confinement during the colder months make it nearly impossible for our guests to get the exercise they require for health and safe delivery.
So…anyone walking into our House will be amazed at the two new pieces of professional grade exercise equipment on the first floor. We’ve installed a big bike and a treadmill outfitted with many gadgets. And we’re putting these two additions to good use.
We hope to expand
We’re working with the Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) and Department of Safety and Inspection to make full use of the space we now enjoy. We have applied for a state license, and in the process we discovered that we can now house house two more adults. So rather than four, we can now house six unrelated adults in a supportive living arrangement. However…there is much more for us to do before we approach the District 4 Council with plans. Please pray for us.
Moms want to get on their feet and achieve independence
Each of our moms is required to have a job or be enrolled in school. Then we help them in all other areas they are working on to attain self-reliance. Low cost housing is one of their major challenges because there is little available in the Twin Cities. While moms can get jobs and day care, a place to call home is nearly impossible to find. We welcome your ideas.
Here at Philomena House we maintain an ever-expanding catalog of community resources, which we continually enlarge, and which our moms find highly useful.
Thank you for the baby clothes
To the delight of our guests, generous volunteers have donated baby clothes of every size for infants and toddlers. Many of these pieces have never been worn. Imagine a new mother being able to dress her child in beautiful, fresh sleepers, sweaters and hats, daywear and snowsuits. We keep an abundant repository that our guests love to choose from and keep. Those of you who gave have made us very happy.
On the lighter side, our van saves the day
You may recall that last year we were shopping for a van to carry us on our many errands and appointments. We also use it to take us on excursions and outings. This summer we headed out for a visit to the Como Park Zoo and a nearby picnic site.
Shortly after we laid out our food under the sun, we were assaulted by a squadron of insects. Wasps? Yellow jackets? They bore down on us like an army, hungry and angry.There were enough of us to run fast and carry our picnic to the van and slam the doors.
Please continue your support
If you would like to give monthly, here’s how:
• Payroll deduction. Arrange with your employer.
• Auto Bill Bank through your bank.
• Send us a check by mail, monthly.
P.O. Box 13014
Roseville, MN 55113
Along with your contributions, we receive our main support from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), through the Positive Alternative Act. For the two-plus years that we’ve been accepting guests, we’ve received high marks from the MDH.
We continue to keep you in our prayers. And we thank you for your generous contributions that make Philomena House a sanctuary for homeless, expectant mothers.
Joyce Nevins, Director
(cell 651-334-5913) (651-488-9652)
Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, You are mine. –Isaiah 43:1
A joyous new year to you from our staff, volunteers, new babies, our moms and those awaiting new babies!
We pray that God give us all His gifts of courage and wisdom to embrace the
life He holds out to us in 2016.
We look to another year of blessings on Philomena House, including your contributions to our vital work in helping moms and saving babies’ lives. You should know that more than 100 volunteers also helped us in our work, some of them ready to fly to our aid at a moment’s notice. Thanks, thanks, and ever thanks.
The Minnesota Department of Health, Positive Alternatives Act, has invited us to submit a proposal for an additional grant of revenue. Grants will be awarded for three years, June 20, 2016 to June 30, 2019, with the possibility of an extension until December 31, 2020.
Award decisions will be made approximately May 1, 2016.
With these monies, we can do ever so much more for our moms and babies.
• rental of our house (owned by a benefactor of Philomena House)
• marketing programs like our pregnancy help line
• computer and printer for moms to assist in finding jobs, schools,
• our office printer and copier to communicate with Minnesota Department
Health and our volunteers
Our relationship with the Minnesota Department of Health is a good one. We received high marks on their visit to Philomena House this year, so we hope for a good return on our grant proposal!
Al Clasemann and Paul Arend
Three of our valiant volunteers have gone to God this fall.
Al Clasemann, father of Geralyn and Mary Ellen Clasemann, Philomena House board members, died at the age of 96 on September 24, 2015. Al stamped thousands of return envelopes for our mailings while seated in his walker.
Paul Arend died December 17, 2015 during the Hour of Mercy. Paul helped put Philomena House in shape for us by repairing everything that needed it—perfectly.
His work for us includes a refurbished antique desk in our office, donated by board member, Duane Sanocki.
Bernadine Scroggins, Co-director
As you may know, Philomena House was started by four volunteers, two with experience serving homeless, pregnant women. Bernadine Scroggins and her husband Merlyn were pioneers in spreading the message of the value of every human life, traveling throughout Minnesota for the last 40 years. Together they were instrumental in helping establish some 20 Birthright facilities throughout the state.
Bernie and Merlyn welcomed into their own home seven homeless pregnant women and guided them to independent lives with their new babies. So Philomena House was Bernie’s dream come true. She helped draft and finalize the constitution and policies we have in place today that create an atmosphere of peace and love. On October 2, 2015, our co-director since 2008, Bernie Scroggins died during the Hour of Mercy.
Merlyn is now living at the Sunrise Senior Living center in Roseville.
We are heartbroken and believe God abundantly blesses His “good and faithful servants.”
Please pray for us as we pray for you.
Joyce Nevins, Director
(cell 651-334-5913) (651-488-9652)
P.S. Your contributions are tax-deductible. Please use the enclosed, self-addressed envelope and mail it to us.
Two more newborns are living in our home with their mothers. Both children are thriving and developing well, much to our delight. Levi is a strong, handsome boy, highly alert for his age. He’s able to look around and though he doesn’t yet hold up his head, he’s trying. Chantelle, a Valentine to her mother on February 14, is a healthy, good-natured baby. The first baby girl in our family, this cute newborn attracts a lot of attention from everyone in the house.
Last year’s moms and babies have moved on into the community
Babies Nabeel and Kingston, born last summer, graduated Philomena House with their
moms at holiday time. You saw these two little boys’ photos in our December 2014
letter. Nabeel and his mom come back for visits.
Needed: a late-model 8-seat Honda Odyssey Van
We are still shopping for a used Honda Odyssey, eight-seat utility van with the safety features that make it suitable for transporting moms and babies. Please look around. If you find one, we may want to see it. Call Joyce Nevins.
Encouraging words from the Carmelite nuns
We join you in giving thanks and praise to Our Lady and St. Philomena for the four babies and their mothers who have been blessed to find a warm and safe shelter in Philomena House. With so many negative things happening in our world, it is refreshing to know of the goodness of God manifested in the charity of others as they keep Philomena House open and prospering…”
The Carmelite Nuns, Lake Elmo
Come to our 2nd Annual One-Day Yard Sale on May 15
Find treasures on Friday, May 15, 2015 at the Philomena House Yard Sale 386 Mississippi River Boulevard South in Saint Paul 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., weather permitting Rain date: Saturday, May 16. We are looking for volunteers to assist with the set up and packing, and to help during the sale. We also need donations such as clothing, household goods, toys, etc. Last on our list are gifts of baked goods, water and soda for the bake sale. Contact Mary Henseler, 651-278-5251.
It’s tax-return time
Philomena House is a non-profit, 501 (c) (3) organization, so your contributions are taxdeductible.Please use the enclosed, self-addressed envelope for your donation, which continues your work and ours, making a first home for newborn babies and their mothers.
Joyce Nevins, Director
For a child is born to us, a son is given us;
upon his shoulder dominion rests.
They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero,
Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9: 5
Dear Friend of Philomena House:
We thank you at the start of this giving season for your generosity to Philomena House. Our first guest came to us in May 2014, followed soon after by three more moms—and two babies. Now our house is a home! You helped make it possible.
Gifts of every kind poured in, cash, handsome furniture, kitchen ware, hand appliances, linens, maternity clothes. Anything we mentioned, fell into our hands. And when you prayed, God answered. Now we have a corps of capable, problem-solving volunteers on the board and on committees. Some recruit and direct volunteers, some do training and ongoing mentoring of our moms and some stand in to give our housemother time off (especially needed on all Sundays). Both adults and teens come to expedite our outgoing mail and to help with housecleaning and gardening. We always need drivers during the week to take our guests to doctor/dentist appointments and other destinations in town. If you’d like to volunteer, please contact our chairman of volunteers, Katie Sampair (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Our first guest said this about her life at Philomena House:
“This is a home where you can be comfortable. It feels like it’s home…
It is relaxing with some structure and an encouraging environment. People are here for you – you are not alone.”
Our guest moms are learning and growing toward self-reliance, so they can thrive in society when they leave us. Most of all, they are learning to be loving and peaceful persons.
- Each guest mom has a personal mentor who walks with her through her stay, helping her set and reach her goals and following her progress toward self-reliance.
- One guest is completing her high school diploma and attending classes. Another guest has lovely front teeth, thanks to the care of our volunteer dentist. And three received fresh haircuts from our volunteer stylist.
- Every two weeks a coach comes to the Philomena House kitchen to teach cooking, a key skill in homemaking. This summer, our housemother and guests cooked a stir-fry chicken dinner with vegetables from our backyard garden.
- Life coach, Kay, has tutored moms in managing the areas of life they face in single or family life. She has discussed with them the transition from homelessness to home with the support of others.
- Financial planners, Sharon and Carol, introduce and teach money and asset management, a skill most young people do not possess and very much need.
More education and support…
- This spring, Mary Bochek of the Minnesota Department of Health addressed the volunteers of Philomena House on their obligations and our expectations as related to our state grant. (We acquired this generous grant through the state’s Positive Alternatives Act Program (http://www.health.state.mn.us). Mary follows our progress closely and is always ready to advise, based on her long experience in social services to women and children.
- Moms have the ongoing support of pre-and post-partum doulas. Our doulas, mostly nurses, instruct moms on physiological and psychological changes in the mother, on infant care and feeding as well as when to see or call a doctor. One of our doulas helped with the delivery and birth of Baby Boy Nabeel in June.
- This summer, Becky, a young single mom at the time of her delivery, helped us paint a room. She also addressed our guests on the experience of pregnancy in high school. Becky proved that this act of love, bringing a baby into the world and living the life of a single mom, takes the support of others and emotional strength on the mom’s part. The attending volunteers had many questions.
- Mary Ball, attorney and executive director of the Catholic Adoption Agency, spoke to our volunteers and guests on adoption options in the Saint Paul area. We want our moms to understand their options and the legal implications of each as they plan for the futures of their babies.
- Margaret Ganjes, experienced director of “To Bear Witness,” and longtime mentor and friend to Philomena House founders, spoke to a large group of interested volunteers on mentoring. In asking Margaret to describe the job, we hoped to recruit women from the group. And we did!
Remember, our guests come to us with nothing!
One guest came with only the clothes she was wearing, not even respectable shoes. With your help, we gave her the clothing and shoes she needed. Some expenses are not covered through our grants. So we use the money you’ve donated to buy necessities such as eyeglasses, which as you know, are costly. Two of our guests now wear much needed glasses, which we purchased for her. With your money, we bought beds to ensure that our guests sleep comfortably through pregnancy and after.
We bought a computer-friendly desk for one of our guests who attends school to use in her room. That way she can work and study while watching her baby. She was thrilled.
Anyone with a family can imagine the abundance of baby articles we need that require constant replenishing and that cannot be pre-used. To name a few, diapers, diaper ointments, baby bottles and nipples. Thanks to you, we’re able to finance all this, and feel grateful for your providence and generosity. We still need a van for everyday transportation. Let us know if you have an idea about how we can acquire one.
A brief report on our two baby boys, Nabeel and Kingston
Nabeel, born in late June, is ready for solid food as of this writing. He’s a most engaging fellow. When his mother comes home from school, he lights up, waving arms and legs and bestowing hugs on her. When Sharon our housemother sings to him at bedtime, he hums along. He laughs, plays, coos and reaches for things. Those who care for him say he’s strong and good at sleeping.
Kingston, a month younger than Nabeel, is a robust baby with well-developed muscles and lungs. His mother is proud of him and his baby accomplishments. Like Nabeel, he laughs, plays and reaches. Both boys sit in their swing chairs, transfixed as they watch the educational video Baby Einstein, on the computer screen in the dining room.
A word of gratitude at Christmastime
All of us who serve Philomena House thank you for everything you’ve given us from the day before we even had a place for our guests to live. The Christ Child lives! We pray that He blesses you for helping us bring Nabeel and Kingston into the safety of Philomena House. Please remember us in this season of giving with your end-of-year contributions and your anticipated tax refunds. And please pray for us as we continue to pray for you.
You are invited to Holy Mass on Saturday January 3
Come be with us on Saturday evening, January 3, 2015 at 5:00 pm for Holy Mass, which is being celebrated for your intentions and those of all the benefactors of Philomena House. A reception afterwards will follow in the church hall. Parking available in the church lot.
Church of the Holy Childhood
1435 Midway Parkway
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55108
Geralyn Clasemann (651-646-0626) if you have questions.
We await the birth of two more cute babies in February!
Joyce Nevins (651) 488-9652
Co-director of Philomena House
P.S. Remember that Philomena House is a 501 (c) (3) corporation, making your contributions deductible and tax-free. Please use the enclosed, self-addressed envelope.
Two newborn baby boys have come to Philomena House, much to the delight of their mothers and all our board and staff members. Our work has now begun.
Born on June 29, 2014, little dark-haired Nabeel came to us at 5 pounds, 13 ounces. He made his home here with his mother. Nabeel fixes his eyes on her face whenever she holds him, which is all the time. Our first baby!
Then on July 29, our second baby boy came, little Kingston, weighing 6 pounds, 14 ounces. He’s now here at Philomena House with his mother. Everyone wants to hold both guys.
We thank you for the support you gave that helped bring these little boys safely into our arms. Please continue.
Four Young Mothers Call Philomena House “Home”
Right now, we house four guest residents, our optimal capacity, and have begun our educational program, intended to get them ready for independent living. A host of volunteers have come to training sessions over the last two months to acquaint themselves with the operations of our home and our program, so they can help. We are amazed at the talent and the unselfishness of these wonderful people.
With a full house, we can always use more volunteer help. Katie Sampair, our volunteer coordinator (651-726-4134), says we need help cleaning, gardening, a little painting and donating meals for our residents. If you’d like to bring a meal, go to the Meal Train website link: https://www.mealtrain.com/?id=m21qlp7y74xt
Open House, May 25, 2014 – the Franciscans come “Home”
More than one hundred people attended our afternoon Open House on Sunday, May 25, a feast of Saint Philomena. The lively crowd included local police and several clergy who came “to see,” and to enjoy cake and punch.
Fourteen Sisters of Saint Francis of Little Falls, Minnesota arrived. Their group had lived in the large Victorian home, until recently their convent. Then our benefactor bought it from them and renovated it for us. They were astonished at the renovation, especially the kitchen, and the beautiful donated furnishings. Geralyn, our founder and board chairman, gave them each a rose. Their photos appear in this letter.
Volunteers have also fully furnished Philomena House with donated, nearly new, clean and attractive upholstery, lamps, tables, chairs and pictures for the walls. All of it matches! Housemother Sharon King pulled it together, making the home look professionally done. She has also planted a garden now full of fresh vegetables and varieties of lettuce.
• Yard Sale in Saint Paul. Board member, Mary Henseler, held a “first class” yard sale in July. The sale netted $2,200.
• “All That Jazz” Dance Party was staged by St. Gabriel the Archangel Catholic Church, Hopkins, Minnesota. Friday, August 15, 2014. All proceeds went to Philomena House.
• We want to buy or rent a van to serve all the local travel needs of Philomena House residents. To start funding that project, we have sent a proposal to “Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless” foundation.
If you would like to hold a fundraising event for us, let us know.
Three new Philomena House board members
We’ve elected three board members. All are already highly active in these very busy, early stages of Philomena House development.
Mary Hensel: Mary and her husband moved to Minnesota from Wisconsin in 2003. They have four children. Mary runs her own business making and selling religious jewelry. It was Mary who happened upon the St. Philomena relic and gave it to Bernie at a Deanery meeting. Mary has her degree in fine arts and possesses great organizational skills. She believes Philomena House gives women a real choice.
Karen McCann: “I am the mother of two wonderful girls, ages 10 and 13. My husband and I just celebrated 22 years of marriage. I speak Spanish, love babies and interacting with youth. I desire to encourage these young women of Philomena House to appreciate and enjoy the beautiful gift of life that God has given them. I wish to help in whatever way I can to assist these women in gaining the confidence and skills they need to make happy lives for themselves and their babies.”
Katie Sampair: “I am a mother of five children, ages 6, 5, 3 and 11-month old twin boys. I have been married eight years. I am a registered nurse, employed on a casual basis with HealthEast Home Care. When I heard about Philomena House, I knew I had to become involved. I am amazed each day by God’s love for me and by the grace he pours down on me! When I was contemplating taking on the “volunteer coordinator” role, I couldn’t think of a good reason not to! I love to bake, run, read and hold babies!”
Father Wolnik came with a special blessing and dedication
On Friday, June 27, 2014, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Father James Wolnik, Philomena House board member, came to dedicate our house to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Several board members were present. We await more blessings from God and thank Father for his devotion to our efforts.
Get credit from the IRS for your contributions to us
Many of our friends who came on Open House Sunday on May 25, and some later, left us donations of cash and furnishings. We thank you. And we apologize that in all of the activity, we may have forgotten to give you a tax receipt, which entitles you to a tax deduction from the IRS.
If we have left you out, we didn’t intend to, so if you want a receipt, please call and ask us for one and we’ll send it to you. Call Joyce at 651-488-9652. For more information, see www.irs.org.
Please continue to remember us in your charity!
Your generosity has helped make a home for two newborn baby boys, who otherwise might not have made it into this world. We could not have anticipated the joy they have brought us. Nor the sight of the love of their brave mothers. After five years of hard work, we have seen God’s overflowing providence in so many unexpected ways.
We ask for your continued support. Remember, Philomena House is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, so your contributions are tax-free. Please use the enclosed, self-addressed envelope.
Bernie Scroggins, Co-director (651) 633-4391
Joyce Nevins, Co-director (651) 488-9652
P.S. We keep you in our prayers. And we ask you to pray for us as well.