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
Fina was thirty-eight when she immigrated to the United States from Italy with her husband and two children. In Milan, she had been a stay-at-home mom, but with her youngest daughter getting ready to start first grade, she was excited to rejoin the workforce and start a new life in the United States.
But shortly after moving to Columbus, Fina’s husband became abusive. At the same time, Fina was struggling to learn English and find steady work. She was separated from her family and friends by an ocean, and without a support network outside of her husband, she began to feel isolated and depressed. She had thought that living in a new country would bring her and her husband closer together, but instead, it made things worse. The stress of his new job caused him to drink more heavily, and to take his frustration out on her. The next day, he would seemingly forget about the abuse, but Fina began to worry her children never would. She didn’t want them to grow up with memories of their father hitting their mother, or to think his behavior was normal. So she made the hard decision to leave her marriage – the only thing she knew in an entirely new life.
One day, Fina reached out for help through her church. She was able to get into a shelter with her children, but her husband kept their immigration papers and the car. Without these, Fina struggled to find a job and support her children.
The shelter soon referred her to Catholic Social Services, and with CSS’s help, Fina was able to navigate the immigration system and obtain the necessary legal documentation to remain in the United States. Our team taught Fina to use the bus system in Columbus and helped her find employers who were understanding of the initial language barrier. Fina also received help with budgeting and paying bills, as well as locating childcare and medical providers.
Now Fina is an assistant head chef at a local restaurant. She loves her new job and has been in an apartment with her two girls for over a year. Without Catholic Social Services, Fina would not have found safety and a new sense of self. For the first time in a long time, Fina has hope for the future.
*Names and details have been changed to protect the identity of the client, due to the sensitive nature of this story.
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.