NRL News

Iowa pregnancy help center opens mother’s home

by | Jan 2, 2024

By Gayle Irwin

A dream came true recently for staff operating an Iowa pregnancy help center as doors to a mother’s home opened and welcomed its first resident.

“We are officially open,” said Peggy Knudson, founder and director of Cradle of Hope. “This is just a supernatural thing.”

The dream to provide housing for pregnant, homeless women took root a few years ago when Cradle of Hope began seeing more women who were “couch-surfing” and living out of their cars, Knudson told Pregnancy Help News earlier this year. The board of directors gave her the go-ahead to search for a suitable space.

When talking with Pregnancy Help News in October, Knudson said she looked at about 50 properties during the past two years. A few came close to being purchased but something would block the endeavor. 

“We negotiated with five different properties,” Knudson said. 

Then a miracle happened.

“In September, my realtor called and said, ‘Oh my word, you’ve got to jump on this! You can’t wait, you can’t delay … you need to see [this place] and you need to make a decision the same day,’” Knudson said. “So, I said, ‘Well, send it to me.’ I saw the house, and I saw who owned it, and I went, ‘Oh my gosh, these people support Cradle!’”

She notified the Board of Directors and encouraged them to give her direction immediately.

“They said, ‘Move!’” she recalled. “It was a great price, within our price range, and had two floors, like 2,300 square feet, which wasn’t as big as what I was looking for, but it had four bedrooms and three bathrooms, and it was on an acreage.”

Additionally, land next to the property was also for sale and that land had been on the market for two years, she said. Seeing that brought vision for potential expansion, Knudson added.

A mission to help homeless moms

“When you set out to do a mission like this, you have in your mind what it should be or what you think it should be, and of course I wanted as many bedrooms as I could get,” she said. “The market industry the way that it is now is so inflated and around here there’s a lack of it, and that was part of our problem. I wouldn’t look at a three-bedroom house or smaller – there was no need.”

An offer was made on the house and acreage and offer was accepted. Afterward, when the sellers and buyers could speak to one another (each had a different realtor and no communication could be done except between the two real estate agents), Knudson said the sellers told her “We are so thrilled to have Cradle of Hope in this home,” she said.

The closing took place in September, and Knudson and her team began moving in the first week of October.

“We have a house mother that is a registered nurse who has been working for us,” Knudson said. “The home was move-in ready … new paint, new flooring – I didn’t have to do a thing. It’s just amazing, and so we are so blessed!”

The community and Cradle’s supporters continued to bless the organization by purchasing and donating furniture, kitchen supplies, and other things to set up the home (a name had not been chosen by publication time). Additionally, the sellers, who moved to a different state for work reasons, discovered the woman’s place of employment chooses a charity that an employee supports and donates. 

“She put Cradle of Hope as her favorite nonprofit organization, and her company gave us a nice- sized gift, so it was just so incredible!” Knudson said.

The primary location of the pregnancy help center is Mount Pleasant, a community in southeastern Iowa near the Mississippi River. Satellite locations are found in three other nearby communities: Fort Madison, Burlington, and Fairfield. The new mother’s home is located five miles outside of Mount Pleasant, Knudson said. Women who have contacted her about living in the home have learned about it through word-of-mouth and the organization’s website, she said.

“We’ve had three applications, but one applicant found low-incoming housing … and the other moved in with an aunt,” she said.

Joining forces with others

Women don’t have to live in the area or even in Iowa to apply and come live at the house, she added. 

“If someone is in need and willing to relocate and I have an opening, we will take them,” she said. “We’re totally open to that.”

Knudson joined the Maternity Housing Coalition, an endeavor of Heartbeat International, and she said she has found the handbook and other materials enlightening and helpful.

“We are so thankful for Heartbeat, so thankful,” she said. 

According to Maternity Housing Coalition, there are about 400 homes like Knudson is establishing throughout the United States. A Facebook page for leaders serves as another resource for her, and she receives great information and insight, “things I never would have thought about,” she said. Sharing experiences, asking questions, and learning from others offers opportunities to run a mother’s home well, and Knudson said she is excited and thankful to step into this new journey of pregnancy help.

“We’re doing it with excitement and gratefulness, but also with our eyes wide open,” she said. “Knowing that we’re stepping out in faith and obeying what we believe is God’s will for this area. We believe He will help us along the way, and we’re thankful for people who have gone before us so we can learn from them.”

Editor’s note: Heartbeat International manages Pregnancy Help News where this first appeared. Reposted with Permission.