“So what exactly is Maggie’s Place?”

“Well, Maggie’s Place consists of homes of hospitality for women who are pregnant, seeking shelter, and– ”

“Wait, so it’s like a shelter?”

“Sort of, but it’s much more than that!”

Having served at Maggie’s Place for almost a full year now (!!!), I have had to answer these questions about Maggie’s Place several times for donors, potential volunteers, and others interested in our program.  I love being able to tell them about what the organization does and how it cares for those most in need. While I can tell them about the house I live in and explain how the MissionCorps members live alongside the moms, it’s always difficult for them to grasp the concept that we offer a home and not a shelter. I am very grateful for those who are able to spend time and visit our homes so that I may have the joy of sharing with them what exactly we mean by “home.”

What is meant by home? Well, I think it begins with the little things, such as the comforting scents one associates with their home. I have noticed that since living at The Michael House, when I come back from a day off, a vacation, or just a long, rough day, as soon as I walk through the door the smell of home comes to greet me. I think it has become a mix of coffee, baby spit-up, burnt eggs, laundry detergent, and hairspray, but combined together they make for the most comforting smell of home.  Going along with the theme of senses, I find that one can also associate the sounds of their home to the comfort it provides.  When I call The Michael House when I’m out on an errand and I hear a baby cry on the other end of the phone line, it is just a reminder to me that I am not “at home” during the present moment.  Coming back from Monday meetings, it is always great to hear Grandma Linda cooing at the babies first thing when walking into the house.

I think that above all, though, you can tell you’ve made a home at a particular place by the way you catch herself speaking about it. At least for me that was what happened! While loading the moms up one afternoon last week, it had been a tiring afternoon and I had caught myself saying to them, “Let’s just go home guys.” At the end of a meeting just two days later, I remember telling a fellow MissionCorps that I was running an errand and I would be home around 2:00 or so. It wasn’t “Michael,” or “The Michael House,” it was home.

While our homes might not be traditional with 11 women and 2 babies living under the same roof, it is very much a home to us all, just the same. A home is not something to take lightly or for granted. I am so thankful for my home at Maggie’s Place – a home that I have the privilege of sharing with over 100 women and their babies for the past 8 years, and many more to come. I think a home has come to mean safety, comfort, stability, and family for all of us at Maggie’s Place. This combination is not easily attained, especially a level of total comfortability with 10 other women!

As I look forward to making a new home at The Hannah house next year, I hope to never forget how The Michael house was once my loving home filled with the sounds, smells, and love that I treasured for one year of my life.

By Clare Shear, MissionCorps Member