Contributed content provided by the Blessing House
Sr. Mary Berigan has worn many hats over the years – she has been a teacher, grade school principal, coach, volunteer guardian ad litem and is now Executive Director of a children’s crisis care center.
But the one hat Sr. Mary never expected to be wearing was that of a builder. Over the past nine months, Sr. Mary has been wearing a hard hat and keeping a close eye on a project that has been a dream for her and her board, and will soon become a reality.
Sr. Mary is the co-founder of Blessing House, a children’s crisis care center in Lorain County that provides care for children whose families are experiencing an emergency and need a safe place for their children to stay.
Years ago, she was involved as a volunteer in a program that provided advocacy for children who were involved in the court system because of allegations of abuse or neglect. Through this involvement, she came to understand that many times families didn’t need court involvement, they just needed some help to get them through an emergency. She, along with her friend, Donna Humphrey, began the journey of opening a home that would provide temporary care for children and help for their family, a home they called “Blessing House.”
When Blessing House opened in 2005, the 3,000 square foot home seemed large enough to do what they wanted to do. But over the years, additional support services were added and a waiting list for children needing a place to stay grew. After a board-directed strategic plan was completed, it was decided the time had come to build a new and bigger home to meet the growing needs of families in Lorain County.
Sr. Mary was ready. She scouted possible locations and worked with the board and building committee. The decision was made to purchase almost three acres of land from St. Vincent de Paul Parish and the Diocese of Cleveland, located almost directly across the street from the current location.
An associate of Sr. Mary’s religious community, the Sisters of Notre Dame, helped get things started by creating a building design. Her architectural drawing led to a discussion around the Blessing House dining room table, where the staff gathered to share their thoughts. It was here that Sr. Mary put her education hat back on and pulled out the children’s blocks to design what would eventually become a 16,730 square foot building.
It took several years of planning and fundraising, then finally in June 2020, in the midst of a pandemic, ground was broken for Blessing House’s new home.
Most days, Sr. Mary can be found walking the site in her hard hat, checking the progress, taking notes and pictures, ensuring the house was going to be what the children needed. She learned about sprinkler systems, security alarms and drainage systems. She learned how to read architectural drawings and how LED lights would save costs.
Sr. Mary is about ready to retire her construction hat, though. As the building nears completion, she is making plans to move Blessing House into their new home where the capacity will increase from 10 to 28 children. She’s excited as she watches the final coat of paint being applied and the appliances being installed.
She’s already thinking of the many opportunities this new facility will bring to families that are struggling. Time for a new hat!
A true asset to Lorain County families, Blessing House provides a temporary safe shelter for children when families experience a crisis or emergency. To learn more about Blessing House’s mission and impact, visit blessinghouse.org.
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