“The ground is broken, but the project is not done. We have a building to build, money to raise and we need help from you,” said Donna Humphrey, co-founder and director of development for Blessing House, a faith-based, nonprofit children’s crisis care center in Lorain. “It’s not what we’ve done, it’s what you’ve done. This is part of God’s project of hope.”
A large crowd gathered on June 26 behind St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Elyria Township for the groundbreaking of the new, 16,700-square-foot facility. The groundbreaking ceremony culminated a three-year, community-driven planning process. Star Builders Inc. is the general contractor. Estimated cost for the construction phase of the project is $2.5 million. To date, $1.65 million has been raised for the project.
The new one-floor building, which will rise on 2.85 acres of land purchased from St. Vincent de Paul Parish, is expected to be completed in spring 2021. It will nearly triple Blessing House’s capacity, enabling it to serve 28 children and families. The existing five-bedroom facility on nearby Grove Avenue in Lorain has a capacity of 10 children.
Tim Alcorn, radio voice of the Cleveland Cavaliers, served as master of ceremonies for the groundbreaking ceremony. Father Charlie Diedrick, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Elyria, offered the opening prayer. The ground was blessed by Father Don Oleksiak, administrator for the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, and Father John Retar, St. Vincent de Paul pastor. Father Frank Kosem, retired pastor of St. Jude Parish in Elyria, offered the final blessing.
“It is a perfect day, time and place to be here,” said Mary Herrick president of the Blessing House Board of Directors. “The list of waiting children is long and the need is great.”
Sister Mary Berigan, SND, Blessing House co-founder and executive director, said groundbreaking is a new beginning, “the beginning of creating a better place where our children can grow and learn, heal and be loved. It is a building for the children but also another opportunity to support families and caregivers.”
The new building will allow Blessing House to triple its space and consolidate all of its operations under one roof. It also will provide additional space to expand programming and services that will help children and families who are facing challenging circumstances arising from living in poverty, dealing with mental and physical health concerns and having limited support
Blessing House provides residential care for children from birth to age 12 when a family is experiencing a crisis or emergency and needs a safe place for their children to stay. Since it opened 15 years ago, more than 1,500 children have stayed at Blessing House. But Herrick said many others were not able to stay because there was not enough room. In fact, last year for every child that stayed at the facility, another child could not be accommodated for lack of space.
Kristen Fox Berki, executive director, Lorain County Children Services, said Blessing House is a valuable asset in Lorain County. It offers short-term crisis help, an alternative to having families become immersed in the children’s services agency. Blessing House works with the agency and offers a safe, healthy place and protection for children in need. “Blessing House, Sister Mary, Donna, Mary and the staff are a true blessing to Lorain County,” she said. “We are grateful to have you as part of the safety net providing for the children of Lorain County.”
"Thank you for helping to make God’s project of hope come to fruition,” said Sister Berigan.