I am a new MissionCorps. And I am not your average MissionCorps. I’m a mom to four adult children and grandma to two with one more on the way. When people learn that I sold my home and my car, and gave away most of my earthly possessions to do a year of service as a MissionCorps at Maggie’s Place, they are more than curious!
Another unique thing about me is that I have also worked with vulnerable populations for more than twenty years. So I bring a different perspective to Maggie’s Place as a MissionCorps.
The last position I held was as the Executive Director of an inner city pregnancy resource/help center, with two locations, that provided a full scope of services including full pre-natal care for our clients. But more often than not, we would have moms that had successfully completed our programs and had worked hard to make positive life changes return to us shortly after they were finished. They would be back at square one–pregnant again, fearful, confused and broken. Something clearly wasn’t clicking. Though this organization has an excellent staff and had been serving clients in crisis for more than forty years, something seemed to be missing.
I heard about Maggie’s Place from one of my sisters and began to look into it and pray about whether the Lord might be calling me here. I decided to take the plunge and flew to Phoenix with two suitcases on January 15th of this year.
I am fairly certain that I have already discovered the most important missing piece, the piece that helps these women make positive changes and helps them keep the forward momentum. It’s love—a specific kind of love. It’s not that the clients at my previous organization weren’t loved, but I now recognize that when working with mothers who have experienced the challenges and heartaches that the Maggie’s Place women have, the love they need must be communicated more tangibly, “with skin on,” as I like to say.
What does this look like? It looks like MissionCorps sleeping in bunk beds in the smallest bedrooms in our homes. It looks like being available to listen to a mom’s problems even when I have already worked a fourteen hour day. It looks like helping an overtired mother finish her daily chores at the end of the day so she can get to bed sooner. It looks like asking for forgiveness when I make a mistake or “blow it” and being quick to forgive MP moms and other MissionCorps when they fall short somehow. It looks like not abandoning these amazing moms when it gets hard and messy because most of our moms have already experienced so much abandonment, addiction, trauma, and disappointment in their young lives. It looks like “family” dinners on Monday nights which include “gratitude circles” and what our thorns and roses were for the past week.
In short, it means communication to our mothers, in many ways that we won’t abandon them even when they backslide! In fact, I know of no other organization or service agency that says, “Even if you are asked to leave a MP home for a serious rule infraction, you can still always come back us (to The Fiat House – Moms’ Outreach Center) for services, counseling and classes!”
I have heard a number of well-meaning people say things like, “Well, what are these women doing having babies when they aren’t married anyway!” Or, “They’ve screwed up so it’s their own fault!”
I usually don’t respond to these comments but this is what I would like people to know. We are now on the fourth generation of what I call “welfare families.” I recently met a 56-year-old woman who was a great grandma a number of times over. She was helping raise some of her grand and great-grand kids. Since many of our moms grew up with only one parent and/or were raised by a variety of unreliable “parents,” and good choices and positive ways of dealing with their problems were never modelled for them, where would they have learned these things? Where would they have learned a better or different way? On TV? In the news? At the movies?
We as MissionCorps are not only trying to love when it’s hard and messy, but we are also role models for the moms teaching them through our words and actions that there is a different way, there are better choices, and everyone can change and grow, even in the harshest soil, if they have the right kind of love and support.
By Jann Fritzhuspen, a MissionCorps