by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Finding the little plaster Magi in a wall during renovations was surely a sign.
So, too, were the plaster “praying hands” sculpture and the plaster plaque with the 86th Psalm, also found during renovations.
Signs from God were what led Barbara Belcher to launch Nativity House KC, a crisis pregnancy home for homeless women in Kansas City, Kan. What made it a reality were the biggest signs of all: an outpouring of generosity from family, friends, donors and sponsors, businessmen and tradesmen — they have all made Nativity House happen.
An open house for the newly refurbished home, located just a block and a half from Christ the King Church, was held on Sept. 7. If enough funding comes in, the first residents will move in after Jan. 1, 2014.
Belcher was a nurse for 20 years and worked as a director of legislative affairs for Merck Pharmaceuticals in a four-state region. While she was driving home after a legislative hearing in 2011, she prayed the “scary prayer”: Let it be done unto me according to your will.
“I said, ‘OK, Lord, whatever you want for me, I’m ready,’” she said. “I didn’t realize within a few weeks I’d be in retirement.”
In 2012 during eucharistic adoration at her parish, Queen of the Holy Rosary in Wea, the idea came to her — that a maternity home was needed in Wyandotte County.
It just seemed that God was preparing her for something like this through her work as a nurse and lobbyist, her spiritual direction through the Apostles of the Interior Life, and her pursuit of a master’s degree from the Maryvale Institute.
“I can see the big influence the Apostles of the Interior Life and Maryvale had in putting this house together,” said Belcher. “I’ve taken things from both: the total trust in divine providence the Apostles [of the Interior Life] have, and [from Maryvale] the anthropology of man — the inherent dignity we have as children of God.”
The women who will stay at Nativity House, ages 16 years and older, will be scared and worried when they arrive.
“We want our young mothers to know that they are precious daughters of God and have great worth and dignity, and God has great potential and plans for them,” said Belcher.
She learned of a house on the market that would be perfect for their needs, two stories and six bedrooms, about 1,500 square feet.
It was a foreclosure, had been vacant since 2011, and needed a lot of cleaning and refurbishing. Belcher and her husband Vin bought the house and lease it back to Nativity House KC for $1 a year.
The Belchers organized Nativity House as a Kansas charitable organization with not-for-profit 501(c)(3) status pending. Since it is a residential home that falls under the definition of “family,” it is an unlicensed group home and does not require a special license or zoning. Funding will come from donations.
Nativity House will have room for four mothers and one housemother, who will provide supervision. It will furnish housing and various services by tapping resources in the community. Social work will be done by Wyandotte County. Belcher doesn’t want to duplicate services that can be accessed through other entities.
“We won’t provide it ourselves, but we’ll help [the mothers] find a doctor and medical services, Medicaid and WIC,” said Belcher.
Nativity House will also work with Wyandotte Pregnancy Center, Donnelly College and the Keeler Women’s Center.
Each mother will be provided with a spiritual mentor and a shepherding family. Each mother will receive lessons about the Catholic faith, but there is no expectation that they become Catholic. Mothers of all faiths are welcome.
A mother can stay at Nativity House all through her pregnancy and delivery, and through the first year of her baby’s life. Belcher would like to expand the Nativity House to help women who already have one or two children.
“I see Nativity House [someday] having a maternity home component, a postpartum component, a transitional component, and I see the need [for a component] for a mother who has one or two toddlers,” said Belcher.
She has no doubts that this will succeed.
“If it was just personal, it wouldn’t be this successful this quick,” said Belcher. “It’s not of us. He’s wanting it, not us, ‘he’ being the Holy Spirit.”