Respect Life Month
For women who are feeling alone, unsure
Diocesan New Life Fund offers pregnant women a place to turn for help
By Sarah Malcore
Desperate and sometimes life-threatening situations require special action -- action that the Green Bay Catholic Diocese makes possible through the New Life Fund of Catholic Charities.
Consider, for example, "Jennifer" (not her real name), who relocated to Green Bay to protect her family and herself from domestic violence. She has been unable to work for the past three months due to health problems. Because she is new to the area, she had no family to turn to for help.
Jennifer felt alone and unsure of what to do, until she was referred to Catholic Charities.
Enter the New Life Fund, which was able to help her.
In appreciation, Jennifer wrote the following in a letter, "I cannot thank you enough for everything you did for us. I am going though a very rough time right now emotionally and financially and you made me feel special, like I wasn't alone."
The purpose of the New Life Fund is to "provide 'last resort' funding to pregnant women who have encountered essential expenses related to their pregnancy, adoption procedure, or necessities during the first year of their child's life which they can not handle," say the fund's guidelines.
Jill Kahovec, intake worker for the Catholic Charities and contact person for the New Life Fund is pleased by the difference the fund can make in the lives of those in need.
"This is not a hand-out," Kahovec said. "We are sensitive to the fact that the recipient must be able to support herself and her child in the future, after this grant is given, and try to assist with that by referring her to other resources within our agency and the community which might benefit her situation."
Karen Johnston, director of Catholic Charities, said, "The New Life Fund provides a valuable avenue for the church, through Catholic Charities, to reaffirm its commitment to life.
"Our support of young families through this program is at the heart of what we do to reach out and strengthen family life in our diocese. Our work on behalf of vulnerable families brings new hope for the future of the children whose lives are enhanced by others' generosity."
The New Life Fund does not pay past debts, nor is it for items that could be paid for though other resources.
If given to be used for a rent payment, for example, recipients must show that they are capable of paying the rent in the future. If not, the New Life Fund will help the recipient obtain more affordable housing or government-subsidized housing. Background checks are also done to ensure that the funds go where they belong.
Payment is always made directly to the service provider, whether it be groceries, rent or medical bills.
The highest priority recipients are women who might be considering abortion because their financial situation is so bleak that they believe they have no other option. Pregnant single mothers who have expenses directly related to the care and well-being of their children also are given high priority.
Married couples and single fathers who have demonstrated a need also have received aid.
The New Life Fund also helped "Susan." She had to quit her job because she was suffering from gestational diabetes during pregnancy and lived in a rural area that did not offer any assistance.
"We were truly Susan's last resort," Kahovec said. "New Life Fund assisted with purchasing insulin supplies and other medical treatment necessary to monitor the diabetes."
In a letter to Kahovec about the New Life Fund, Susan wrote, "words can't describe how much I appreciate the time taken for my family and I to pull all this together. When no one else cared, you took the time to listen. A huge load has been taken off my shoulders."
"Being able to provide service for young women and babies after they have tried everything else is a gratifying role to be in," Kahovec said. "In cooperation with Bp. Robert Banks and the Bishop's Appeal, the Respect Life program, Catholic Charities, and other generous donations, the New Life Fund has been made possible."
In addition to the 24 families helped so far by the New Life Fund, Catholic Charities receives 10 to 15 requests each week for other financial assistance. Catholic Charities does not have an emergency assistance program, but works with other service providers to help people in need.
For more information about the New Life Fund, contact Jill Kahovec at (920)437-7531, or toll-free at 1-877-400-3580, ext. 8234.
Contributions to the fund -- including new baby items and monetary gifts -- also are accepted. Checks should be made payable to the Diocesan New Life Fund and mailed to Catholic Charities, P.O. Box 1506, Green Bay WI 54305.