Fontebella provides new mothers with care and support

Fontebella logoO’FALLON – One of O’Fallon’s best kept secrets is an organization working hard to support and assist new mothers who are in need of help. Fontebella Maternity Home has served more than 60 women since opening in 2010. The O’Fallon Weekly recently sat down with Fontebella’s Development Director, Shannon Durio, to talk about the organization and how it has helped the O’Fallon area.

Can you tell us about the founders of Fontebella?

Fontebella was founded by Bob and Susan Hoff.  The Hoffs believed that every woman needs a healthy support system as she strives to become a stable, loving mother. In addition to their work with Fontebella, Bob owns Performance Roofing in South County, and Susan works there part-time. Both of them donate countless hours and resources to help keep the doors of Fontebella open.  The Hoffs attend St. Nicholas Parish in O’Fallon and are active supporters of the greater St. Louis philanthropic community.

What services does Fontebella provide?

Over the last six years, Fontebella has served over 60 women. Women can come at any stage of their pregnancy, and stay up until three months after the baby is born.

While staying at Fontebella, each woman is responsible for either furthering her education or working (and sometimes they do both!) Not only do they receive a safe home environment, but they receive weekly counseling (group and individual), case management, and access to partnering agencies to help them chart the course of their future.

Local businesses and organizations donate time and resources to help these women develop vital life skills that set them up for a life of independence once the baby arrives. Examples include financial planning (shout out to Regions Bank for sending employees to train our women for free!), healthy cooking, first aid, parenting classes, CPR, interview and resume prep, Bible studies with local churches, crafts, sewing, meal planning, and so much more.

The goal is to help these moms regain self-esteem and pursue opportunities that lead to stability.

How many employees and volunteers serve the organization?

I am the Development Director, and Thelma Vaupel is our House Manager. We are both part-time. We also have paid supervisors on duty at the home 24/7 to ensure the safety of the moms and babies who live there. We have well over 100 volunteers who give of their time regularly in a variety of ways, from house maintenance to fundraising to working directly with the moms.

We are a small organization, and depend heavily on volunteer support to keep our doors open. Recently, two ladies stepped up to serve as our Volunteer Coordinators – Allison Agar and Catherine Miles – both are retired USAF and give several hours each week to help keep our volunteer projects organized and running smoothly.

We also have a governing Board of Directors with eight other community leaders along with the Hoffs.

What are your plans for growth?

• Expand our current facility in order to accommodate more women and children. At this time, our space limitations prevent us from being able to provide housing for any other children that these women have. We hate turning women away, so we hope to grow and provide a safe home for these young families.

• Build transitional housing on our property so once these moms leave, they have a place to go where they can ease into a successful, independent life with their child.

• Partner with more local agencies to be able to provide more tailored approaches to helping each woman.

Can you provide details about your upcoming event?

Our phone rings off the hook with women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy and have nowhere safe to go. When we are at full capacity, it is devastating to have to tell them that we simply do not have the resources to help. It costs an average of $10,000 a month to keep our doors open and these women safe and cared for. It is critical that we increase awareness in the community about who we are and what we do, in order to gain the financial support that we need to continue to operate.

Our banquet is our biggest fundraiser of the year. We are expecting over 300 guests this year. Tickets are still available for purchase.

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