An idea was born . . .
Blessing House started as an idea in the fall of 2001 as Sr. Mary Berigan and Donna Humphrey, both guardian ad litems in the children’s advocacy program Voices for Children, began wondering about an alternate way to help families before they became involved in the child welfare system. They felt too many parents just didn’t have enough help when they were dealing with the emergencies in their lives and often would not have the time or energy to care for their children.
Donna and Sr. Mary recruited their friend, Jane Jonesco, an attorney and Director of Gift Planning at Oberlin College, to join them in their discussions, and soon the concept of a safe place for children to go during family crises began to take shape. Sr. Mary left her position as principal at St. Jude’s Elementary School in Elyria, Ohio, and began the pursuit of the establishment of Blessing House full time.
Planning and Praying . . .
It took several years of planning and networking to gather all of the resources necessary to open Blessing House. Sr. Mary, Donna and Jane traveled to several states to visit crisis nurseries and researched programs in other parts of the country that were similar in nature. A board of directors was developed and a non profit agency was formed in 2003. Together, this group of Lorain County citizens secured the funding and found a house, which was quickly transformed into a cheery, child friendly 5 bedroom home. The Remodeler’s Council of the North Coast BIA played a large role by helping to convert a garage into usable space and building a handicap accessible ramp.
The final piece in the development process was the acquisition of a license to operate. Working with Senator Jeffry Armbruster and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services licensing division, a license to operate as a group home with waivers was secured in early April, 2005. Blessing House opened to care for children just 2 weeks later.
From the beginning, Blessing House has been God’s Project of Hope. We believe we have been led by God to provide a safe place for children and we are thankful for the many blessings that have been bestowed upon us to make Blessing House possible. Blessing House is a non-denominational, faith based program, and we are thankful to the many churches and individuals of faith who have supported us in our mission.
Events and Milestones . . .
In May, 2006, legislation was passed establishing Children’s Crisis Care Facilities as a designation in Ohio Revised Code.
In April, 2007, after working as part of a group for two years to pass legislation and develop new licensing rules specifically for these types of facilities, Blessing House was the first to be licensed in the State of Ohio as a Children’s Crisis Care Facility.