Hannah's House

By+Kristi Ward

In many neighborhoods you’ll find charming, picturesque homes which seem to radiate with cheerfulness and optimism. These special homes literally glow in the loving attention of their owners, from their carefully maintained lawns and landscaping to the thoughtfully chosen treatments hung at the windows.

One such home in downtown Mishawaka radiates that special homey charm and cheerfulness on the outside due to the caring, dedication and optimism of those living and working inside.
The house is Hannah’s House, a group home that provides safe shelter, emotional support and special programming to assist women in crisis pregnancies.

The home began back in 1993 as a joint project of Bethel College, Women’s Care Center, the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, and St. Joseph Regional Medical Center. In 1997, Gurley Leep Automotive Family became a sponsor and in 2000, Hannah’s House became an independent agency, supported solely by private donations.

“The first thing we want to stress is that the house is a home,” says Diana Nauman, director of development and volunteer coordinator for Hannah’s House. “It’s not an institutionalized environment at all – we really stress a homey atmosphere.”

That atmosphere is apparent as soon as you pull up in front of the well-kept yellow two-story residence. Surrounded by beautiful landscaping, the home is enlivened by thoughtful touches such as hanging baskets of blooming flowers and a comfortable bench for relaxation.

Capable of housing seven women at one time, Hannah’s House is home to about 25-35 women and their babies every year. Residents have ranged in age from 13 to 41 and they come from every socio-economic background. Diana says most have traumatic experiences in their backgrounds.
“We try to do bright, cheery colors so the ladies are comfortable and relaxed while they’re here,” Diana explains. “We try to eliminate stress in their lives since a lot of them have come from stressful backgrounds.”

Just like any other home, life at Hannah’s House includes doing chores. Among other responsibilities, residents make their own beds and clean their rooms. They also prepare their own morning and noon meals and once a week each lady prepares dinner for the entire household.

Following the rules of the home, doing chores, pursuing educational goals and working at part-time jobs are not only requirements for residents, they are also ways residents earn points which can be redeemed in the “Baby Store” for items such as baby clothing, furniture and supplies.

Wandering through the home on a recent afternoon, the sounds of young women chattering and laughing brighten the already cheerful spaces. From conversations in the cozy living room to shared jokes in the large kitchen to playing with babies in the recently built family room addition, the atmosphere of the home reflects the caring, time and effort that goes into every minute of life in the house.

“We have an absolutely awesome staff who give of their hearts and souls and so many wonderful people who have helped us through the years,” says executive director Karen DeLucenay, MSW. “We see it as a ministry and we see it as an opportunity for these women to build better lives.”

One resident who is making good on that opportunity is Patty, age 17. She’s due to give birth to her son in August. In the meantime, she’s studying for her GED test in June, has arranged for her own apartment and childcare, and plans to start at IUSB in January on a scholarship.
“I wanted to still get a good education even though I’m having a baby,” Patty says. “I want to teach my kids that education is important.”

Patty wasn’t sure about Hannah’s House at first. “I was thinking it was like a safe house or something, this big old building,” she says, laughing. “I saw it and I thought ‘this is it? It looks like a house!’ “

She was nervous her first day, but says that feeling didn’t last long. “It’s real homey – as soon as you come and live here it feels like you’re already at home,” she says. “Even by doing chores it made it feel homey.”

Maria, also age 17, recently gave birth to her son, Emmanuel. Early in her pregnancy Maria almost suffered a miscarriage because she wasn’t eating well and taking care of herself. She agrees the atmosphere at Hannah’s House is special and says living there has made a big difference in her life.

“If I hadn’t come to Hannah’s House, I would have lost my precious son and I’m sure I would have given up on life,” she says. “Hannah’s House is just a wonderful place – I feel like this is my home, my actual home.”

Hannah’s House is a truly special place inside and out – a safe, caring space where dreams are born, hearts are nurtured, and life is especially precious.








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