Blessing House can trumpet its $3.3 million capital campaign for its new one-story, 167,730-square-foot-facility. But the best news is yet to come as more children of parents in crisis will have access to a nurturing, loving and safe temporary home.
Blessing House is a home for children facing abuse, those forced to make their car their home and for those whose parent faces incarceration or some other dire circumstance. It is a home for children who shouldn’t be growing up in a world with adult problems but somehow wound up there anyway.
Incredibly, there are only two other facilities offering the assistance being offered at Blessing House in the State of Ohio — one in Cleveland, the other in Dayton.
For the past 15 years, Blessing House has been limited to working with 10 children in its two-story house. Waiting lists were too often commonplace. Here, walls are decorated with painted handprints of children leaving testimony to those who have lived here for a week, maybe two or maybe more. What these children all have in common is that they have felt loved, played with others and maybe even learned to ride a bike during their stay here. They’ve attended their own schools. Most significantly, they’ve experienced normalcy, which is often a change from what many are experiencing in their dysfunctional homelives.
The dream of Sister Mary Berigan, Blessing House will be expanding to accommodate 28 children ranging in age from birth to 12 years. The new facility is slated to open in April on the anniversary of the opening of the current facility and, coincidentally, Child Abuse Awareness Month. Its design is based on a vision built from a series of kids blocks labeled to indicate rooms and positions that Berigan and Donna Humphrey, Blessing House’s business manager, had painstakingly positioned on a dining room table. “When we met with our architect, Ron Cocco, we showed him our creation and said, ‘This is what we want.’ It’s exactly what he managed to deliver,” she says.
Cocco referred them to Star Builders who Berigan says “have been on top of everything including helping them make good design decisions.”
A conscious decision was made not to purchase new furniture. “We want the new place to feel like home. We want it to be cozy. We’re warehousing the furniture we’ve collected so far and are still collecting furniture,” she says. Anyone interested in donating furniture should call ahead.
Raising money for the construction during Covid-19 has been difficult, Berigan acknowledges. She credits Lorain’s Buckeye Bank for issuing a construction loan and adds that donations may still be made through the website, blessinghouse.org.
Blessing House receives referrals from schools, hospitals, counselors, mental health professionals and local children’s services agencies. According to Berigan, the children who have stayed at Blessing House have come from 98 schools throughout Lorain, Elyria and Cuyahoga County. “We are known by all the area’s major agencies.” While at Blessing House children are fed, clothed and brought to their own schools.
She characterizes Blessing House as a place for family stabilization. “This is where the children can go and become part of an extended family. There are family situations that are not good for the children. Sometimes everything is great at home until one thing goes wrong. Then there’s a domino effect. This is a place where families can try to get through that without getting involved with children’s services. It provides a time to de-escalate for the children.”