Sue became involved in the counseling program due to severe postpartum depression. She was referred by her OGBYN for counseling after the birth of her second child. By the time Sue began counseling, her symptoms of depression were so severe that she was physically unable to leave her home. The first several counseling sessions had to be conducted in her house. The depression that Sue experienced was consuming, and she struggled with caring for herself, bonding with her child, isolation, and negative thoughts about herself.
After several sessions, Sue finally began to open up to her counselor and began to practice mindfulness, self-care, and other coping skills, such as journaling. Her counselor was also able to introduce Sue to some bonding activities, such as baby massage, to help her feel more connected to her child. After several months of counseling, Sue saw a drastic decrease in her depressive symptoms and began to truly enjoy motherhood – something she had hoped for from the beginning.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Center
When she was 18 years old, Alexandra made the long, terrifying trip from Honduras to the United States with her 16 year old sister and her uncle. Her parents had come to the United States a few years prior, leaving Alexandra and her younger sister completely alone. Because they had very little money, their journey was extremely difficult, but the thought of the United States, which they considered a dreamland, kept them going.
Years later, Alexandra was talking to her daughter about the importance education when her daughter asked why she had to study if her mother did not finish school. Alexandra took up her daughter’s challenge and began attending English classes at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Center. The classes were tough, and it was difficult to learn a new language, but Alexandra refused to give up. She was determined to show her daughter what it took to succeed, and to make her understand the importance of education.
One day, Alexandra hopes to get her GED and attend college so that she can get a better job and support her family independently. Her goal is to build a life for her family here, and to watch her children grow up in a society that will allow them to truly succeed.
Pathways to Hope
Leaving the father of her children was one of the hardest things Jamilla had ever had to do, but the abuse was getting worse. She had begun to fear for her life and the lives of her children. After he beat her while she was pregnant, putting her unborn daughter at risk, Jamilla fled to a domestic violence shelter. At the shelter, she was connected to Catholic Social Services’ Pathways to Hope program.
With the support of the program, Jamilla began to live without fear and build a life free of violence, where she could teach her young sons and daughters how to treat one another with love and respect. Pathways to Hope helped Jamilla and her children move into a new home, and she was able to find a great job that allowed her to support her family and give back to the community. Once she was in a stable, safe place, CSS coached her on how to build healthy, loving relationships. As Jamilla looks forward, she says, “Pathways to Hope really helped me get back on my feet, and to make me feel like… I really did make the right choice…My goal for myself is to not still consider myself a victim. I want to be considered a survivor.”
When Lauren had an abortion during her sophomore year of college, the only two people she told were her college roommate and her boyfriend. After the procedure, she felt relieved and was able to return her to normal college routine, and in the years that followed, she never spoke about her abortion.
Eight years later, Lauren was married and the mother of a young daughter. She loved her family, but felt something was missing from her life. Her moods were increasingly characterized by episodes of sadness, ‘breakthrough anxiety,’ and guilt. She had a vague sense that she didn’t deserve the life she was living, and she suspected that these feelings were linked to the abortion she had so long ago.
One day, Lauren saw an ad for Project Rachel in her church bulletin. After several weeks of contemplation, she called Project Rachel. She learned that services included referrals to specially trained priests, or the opportunity to meet with a professional counselor. Lauren opted to schedule a session with the counselor, and for the first time, spoke openly about her abortion. She felt heard and accepted as she shared her story, and she and the counselor met several more times. At her last session, Lauren expressed gratitude for Project Rachel, and the opportunity it had provided for her to face her abortion and finally heal.
St. Francis Outreach Center
Jane was forced to flee her home, due to domestic violence. She found her way to Portsmouth, with the hope of starting a new life, but she soon discovered that basic, everyday, activities were difficult without a second income. But Jane refused to give up. She was unable to afford a car, but this did not stop her from striving to create a better life for her children. Each day, she walked two miles with her children so that they would not miss school.
During their first Christmas in Portsmouth, Jane had nothing extra for her children, and no money to make Christmas special. Through a referral to Catholic Social Services, volunteers were alerted to Jane’s situation, and a few days before Chrsitmas, they delivered gifts and a food basket to the family. The children, usually shy around strangers, catapulted themselves into the volunteers’ arms at the sight of the gifts. Jane told the volunteers that this was the first time she felt they were truly going to have a Christmas, and she hugged each volunteer for making it such a special holiday for her family.
Although Jane and her family received a true Christmas blessing, they were not the only ones to receive gifts this past Christmas. The volunteers at the St. Francis Center were able to share in this family’s joy, and it renewed and strengthened their faith in the work of the St. Francis Center.