There are moments in your life when you are impacted in such a way that you realize that things will never be the same for you. That happened for me one day as I was serving as the Director of the Women’s Health Clinic at the St Vincent Primary Care Center in Indianapolis. On that day, I went into an exam room where a patient was sobbing because she felt that she had no other option but to terminate the life of the child inside of her in order to feed the children that were surrounding her in the room. My heart ached as I saw her pain and my mind went to the numerous other moms who felt overwhelmed by their circumstances; ones who were living out of their car or were soon to be evicted as they could no longer pay their rent as well as the ones whose boyfriends or families were threatening to abandon them if they didn’t schedule an abortion.
As I poured my heart out to God about these women, He asked me to start a home where these moms would have a safe place to live and get back on their feet. It would be a place where they would have the opportunity to choose life for themselves and their families.
My passion to ensure the wellbeing of pregnant moms and their babies suddenly took a new direction and I gathered a team of people together to help me make this dream a reality. In 2013, we established So Big as a 501c3 not for profit organization and after 3 years of looking for a location, we were connected with New Hope Christian Church in Whitestown Indiana. After learning about our desire to serve pregnant women in need, the members of New Hope Christian Church offered to let us use the 100-year-old farmhouse on their property to establish our maternity home. We excitedly accepted their offer and set about obtaining zoning and variances. We spent the next 2 years bringing the house up to code and in March of 2018, we opened our doors to the public.
Since then, "So Big Mountain House” has sheltered and cared for 30 women, as well as 19 beautiful babies and 12 children. We are able to house up to four expecting moms at a time, and if they have a child under the age of 10, that child can live at the Mountain House as well. Women can come to live at the maternity home at any point in their pregnancy and can stay for up to a year after their baby is born.
So Big Mountain House is staffed 24/7 by paid employees who care for our moms, foster community, and make sure each resident is making progress towards her goals. We have a study room for our residents on the main floor where we assist them with job searches and we encourage them to further their education by obtaining their GED, if needed, and taking college or vocational courses. We also teach a class called Transformed, that was developed by the director of one of the women’s shelters in Indianapolis. Through these educational sessions, our women learn basic financial management as well as training in self awareness, communication skills and conflict resolution.
In addition to offering food and shelter, our staff works diligently to ensure that the women receive consistent prenatal care. We offer the opportunity for each resident to have a medical advocate that will support them during their pregnancy and we assist our residents in arranging transportation to their prenatal appointments as well. Also, once our moms are employed we either arrange or provide transportation to and from their work and we connect them with resources to obtain affordable childcare.
Not only do we address their physical well being, we also realize the importance of emotional and spiritual health for our moms. During their time at the Mountain House, we ask each resident to attend at least one counseling session and we provide opportunities for spiritual and relational development too. One example of this is our nightly community meal where each resident takes a turn cooking for the others and then the days’ events are shared over dinner. Our hope is that foundational habits like these that help families thrive will then be further established when they move out on their own.
While the circumstances that brought these to So Big Mountain House may have been different, all of our moms are united by a common thread: they desire something better for their life, and for their children, and they are willing to do what it takes to make a change.
As time passes and we see that former residents have had healthy pregnancy outcomes, are thriving in improved relationships, and are achieving better financial stability, I am filled with gratitude for the role that the Mountain House has been able to play in their lives.
No woman should ever feel that she has to choose to end her child’s life because she doesn’t see any other options. At So Big Mountain House, we’ll keep working so that these women can see another option and find Hope.
Lori Buzzetti, M.D. is the Founder and President of So Big Mountain House Maternity Home.