New nonprofit for pregnant women is searching for a place to call home

By CHRIS GAROFOLO
Union Leader Correspondent
December 03. 2017 9:28PM

The new nonprofit for expecting mothers called St. Gianna's Place hosts a spaghetti dinner in Derry earlier this fall. (COURTESY PHOTO)

LONDONDERRY — One of the region’s newest nonprofits, a safe harbor for pregnant women called St. Gianna’s Place, is on the lookout for the right home for its services.

The nonprofit is searching for its first property, preferably somewhere in Greater Londonderry, to provide temporary housing for expectant women while offering nutritious food, maternity clothing, educational resources and spiritual support.

The house would need an adequate living space for several expectant mothers and their babies in addition to room for a full-time house manager.

“We do not have a home yet, that is our biggest challenge,” said Laura Gandia, president of St. Gianna’s Place.

Gandia said the nonprofit is hoping to find a home in the Greater Londonderry area.

“If somebody was generous enough to offer us a low-rent for a house, we would obviously take somebody up on that. If we had a nice benefactor who came in and gave us money to purchase a house, we would do that as well — so I think there’s something out there that’s calling us.”

St. Gianna’s Place, which made its public debut at the Knights of Columbus’ most recent Right to Life event, has aggressively fundraised during its first quarter through a yard sale and spaghetti dinner at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Derry.

The nonprofit received a $1,000 grant from Eversource for the group’s focus on health and well-being in the community, and they have support from the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation. The NH Right to Life has also pledged a matching gift campaign to help raise money to purchase a house.

“There are a lot of homeless shelters, but not one that really specially focuses on pregnant moms in need,” Gandia said.

There are currently only two homes in New Hampshire dedicated to expectant women, prompting the four founding board members, Elizabeth Brueder, Elizabeth Neville, Monica Rahilly and Maria Szemplinski, to call for another safe harbor for at-risk mothers to securely bring their pregnancies to term.

“They told us point-blank, we need more beds in this state,” Neville said.

Right now, it is about having the money at the right time when a house with enough bedrooms comes on the market, she added.

“It’s really a challenge. We haven’t quite raised the money that we need to purchase a home,” Neville said. “That’s the obstacle right now, but I don’t see that as a longterm obstacle because people have been so generous; they’re so generous and enthusiastic about this endeavor.”

The mission of St. Gianna’s Place is to provide temporary housing for pregnant women, offering food and clothing but also life skills and job training in a safe environment.

The nonprofit is named in honor of St. Gianna Beretta Molla, an Italian mother and pediatrician who sacrificed her life for her unborn child. Proclaimed a saint of the Roman Catholic Church in May 2004, she is the patron saint of mothers, unborn children and physicians.


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