NRL News

Arizona pregnancy center broadens offerings to add case management, housing ministry

by | Mar 26, 2024

By Gayle Irwin

Coming alongside women in need of housing and community resource connections became a focus for House of Ruth Pregnancy Care Center, and nearly a year later, several women have received significant assistance to help them continue their pregnancies and change their lives.

“We realized several years ago, housing was definitely an issue,” said House of Ruth Executive Director Stephanie Richey.

The house is not considered a maternity home, she added, because certain aspects of that classification didn’t fit the clientele seen at the center. Therefore, Richey and her team have embraced a model that aligns more closely with what their clients need, including allowing more than one child to live in the house.

“We consider each on a case-by-case basis and with what [rooms] we have available,” Richey said.

A fitting name

The five-bedroom, four-bath home purchased in 2022 was christened The Carpenter’s House. The location is on Carpenter Lane; Jesus was a carpenter by trade, and He “is constantly building and re-building the broken,” says the narrator of a video created about the home. Interestingly, the house mother’s maiden name is Carpenter, Richey said.

The vision for starting a home for women came during a conference Richey and her staff hosted for other Arizona pregnancy center staff, inspired by Abby Johnson’s Pro-Love Ministries, which mentored them in making plans for the house.

Offering resources

Case management is a program component, and Liberty Handis, R.N., B.S.N., was hired to fulfill that role. She also serves as the Abortion Pill Reversal nurse for House of Ruth. As a case manager, she meets with all pregnancy center clients, not just the ones in need of housing.

“I do an assessment with them, find out where they are in their life, what needs they have, how we can best serve them,” Handis told Pregnancy Help News. “And I follow-up with them, seeing if they’ve applied for jobs and things like that.”

She maintains relationships with community agencies and nonprofit organizations that can help pregnancy clients in different ways as well as with other pregnancy centers in northern Arizona.

Entering the world of housing

Before the 4,000-square-foot house on Carpenter Lane was purchased, a different home was chosen for the purpose of providing shelter to pregnant women and single moms. That house went all the way to escrow, Richey said, however, it ended up falling through. Massey and her husband found the house on Carpenter Lane, and the center purchased the home in December 2022.

Although work was needed to accommodate single women with and without children, supporters of the Cottonwood, Ariz., pregnancy medical clinic came together and donated materials, labor, and time. The first woman moved into the home in February of 2023, Richey said.

“The home is a split-level,” she said. “We began work on the bottom level about the same time [as the first mom arrived]. It’s a place for moms to start over and start working on the goals they have.”

Four women received housing help through The Carpenter’s House, and more will be served once the bottom floor has been refinished and refurnished.

Items remain needed for the home and House of Ruth has an Amazon Wishlist for those items.

One woman who began living in the home a year ago remains living there, Massey said.

“She had her baby last October, and she’s working at a job,” she said. “She received her certification as a CNA, and she’s doing very, very well. She was our first Embrace Grace girl, too.”

She accepted Christ and was also baptized not long ago, Richey added.

The other resident, who recently moved in, expects the birth of her child in April, Massey said.

“This house belongs to God totally,” she said.

God makes paths straight

Starting case management and housing programs brings both joy and anxiety, the women said. However, they also agree that God makes His will known.

“When you first meet [potential residents], it’s a bit scary,” Handis said. “You wonder if they’re going to make it, if they’ll start making good choices, and then when we see them doing the right things, like getting a job, and we meet their babies, it’s so joyful.”

The growth is a two-way street.

“Our own faith has grown,” Richey said. “God placed this on our hearts, and He saw it to fruition. God is faithful, and He is good, and even though it’s been scary and stressful and all those things, it’s brought us tremendous joy. It’s been a faith-growth experience for all of us.”

Editor’s note. This appeared at Pregnancy Help News and is reposted with permission.