June 19, 2003
By Blessed Sacrament staff/ SUN contributing writers
Mom’s House provides love and encouragement for single mothers finishing their education
Endicott– Like it is for most college graduates, May was a month of celebration for 20-year-old Shaina McMann. However, she had a bit more to celebrate than the peers of her graduating class at Broome Community College in Binghamton. With her diploma will come a better life for her as well as her four-year-old daughter, Kaylen. And according to McMann, she has Mom’s House to thank for her success. “Without Mom’s House, I do not know where I would be,” said McMann. “Now that I have graduated, I look back and say, ‘I couldn’t have done it without Mom’s House.’” Since 1988, Mom’s House of Endicott has offered solutions of hope to single parents such as McMann who face difficult choices. A non-profit, NYS licensed childcare center, its doors are open to low-income single parents who are enrolled in school full time and who have a child between the ages of eight weeks and four years old. In exchange for regular attendance at school, maintaining passing grades, giving three hours of service time each week and completing five hours of fundraising time per semester, the parents receive free child care.
Kristine Cunningham, executive administrator, said that Mom’s House of Endicott, part of Mom’s House Inc., is a much-needed service for struggling parents. The minimum cost per week for childcare in Binghamton is $160, Cunningham pointed out. “With childcare costs being so high, most people who are working a minimum wage job can’t afford quality childcare,” Cunningham said. With childcare costs skyrocketing, for some parents Mom’s House is the difference between pursuing an education and getting stuck in a cycle of poverty. Mom’s House gives them an opportunity to make a future for their children. “Although you might think that you are in a rut, Mom’s House shows that there are ways that you can better yourself and people who will support you,” said McMann.
Mom’s House believes that every child is a unique expression of God’s love. This premise is the foundation on which the first Mom’s House was built in 1983 in Johnstown, Pa. by founder Peg Luksik. Mom’s House is pro-life, said Cunningham. “A choice for life should not be a choice for poverty. Mom’s House sends the message to women to keep their babies. There is someone who is going to help offer them a solution to their situation,” she said. The program offered at Mom’s House includes nutritional meals, age-appropriate programs and plenty of love and nurturing. There are educational programs for toddlers and preschoolers and the children take field trips throughout the community, including the Roberson Museum and Science Center and the Ross Park Zoo. This fun and safe environment lets parents feel confident about leaving their children at Mom’s House, said McMann.
“I know that when I leave Kaylen to go to school, she is in good hands. In fact, when I would come pick her up at the end of the day, Kaylen would cry because she wouldn’t want to leave,” McMann stated. “When parents feel comfortable leaving their child at Mom’s House, they can go to class and completely concentrate on learning,” Cunningham added. Mom’s House also provides a strong network of support and encouragement for parents while they earn their degrees. Mom’s House is a team –– parents bond with each other and they all share in one person’s happiness or frustration. Leigh Atwater, 20, who has been bringing her two-year-old son, Jordan Gallagher, to Mom’s House for the past two years said that everyone at the house wants to see each parent succeed and build a better life for themselves and their children. “The parents and staff at Mom’s House are supportive of each other,” said Atwater, who is currently working towards her degree at Broome Community College. “Everyone here is going through the same thing. It wouldn’t be nearly as easy to go through this without their support.”
On June 5th another group of parents who relied on Mom’s House to help them complete their education graduated from college. They leave Mom’s House having had a wealth of support, encouragement and love –– ready to face the future with confidence and grateful to Mom’s House for the opportunity to receive a quality education. “Mom’s House helps to give parents a lifelong solution to their situation,” said Cunningham. “An education is something that no one can ever take away from you.”