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New home for unwed mothers in works

BY REBECCA J. BARNABI, The Free Lance-Star

The Paul Stefan Foundation is hoping to expand its efforts to help unwed mothers by  opening a home in Colonial Beach.

President and CEO Randy James said that if all goes well, the vacant Klotz building could be converted to a home for three or four unwed mothers as early as March. But he said  June is probably a more realistic goal.

The foundation formed by James and his wife, Evelyn, opened two homes for unwed mothers in Orange County in 2006 and has since added two more in Northern Virginia. The foundation is named for their sixth child, who died at birth in 2005.

The Rev. Francis de Rosa of Colonial Beach’s St. Elizabeth Catholic Church contacted James about leasing the historic Klotz building on North Irving Street. The foundation—which is supported by  more than 4,000 donors and 37 area churches—would pay for $50,000 to $70,000 in necessary renovations.

James, a developer, said  the interior of the building needs electrical wiring, drywall, kitchen cabinets, painting, plumbing and flooring. 

At the Colonial Beach Town Council’s October meeting, James said the foundation’s goal is to help pregnant women in abusive relationships or other difficult situations so they can safely deliver and care for their babies.

“We just want to help the women,” James said. “If we can save the woman, then we can save the baby.”

The council asked Town Manager Val Foulds to begin looking into requirements and gathering information to allow the foundation to renovate and lease the building.

If the site in Colonial Beach does not work, James told the council he would find another location. In an interview with The Free Lance–Star later, James said that the foundation’s goal is to establish homes across the United States.

He said he and his wife have received calls from New York City and Chicago and hope “to be there if someone has a calling to open a home.”

 “We were thinking He was going to answer the prayer for us [to heal Paul Stefan], but He was going to answer the prayer for mothers all over America,”  James said of his faith in God. 

At one time a school, the Klotz building stands  next to the town’s former police station. The town used it for storage after buying it years ago, but it has remained empty  for at least 10 years.

Councilman Jim Chiarello said that if  the Paul Stefan Foundation or some other group does not use the Klotz building, the structure will go to ruin. Councilman Tim Curtin said the foundation’s offer would provide the town a way to renovate the structure without using tax dollars while helping mothers and  babies.

Curtin  introduced James at the council meeting by relating how such a home might have helped his mother in the 1960s. She was widowed while pregnant with him and living in the D.C. area.

She moved in with her sister and brother-in-law in Colonial Beach and, when Curtin was nine, married the man he came to know as a father.

“She was fortunate she had family and friends,” Curtin said. “There are women out there who aren’t so lucky.”

The councilman pointed out that his mother  became active in the  community, including serving in the Ladies Auxiliary of the Colonial Beach Volunteer Rescue Squad. Mothers and babies helped by a Paul Stefan Home in Colonial Beach could end up being a vital part of the community someday, too, he said.

Curtin, the father of four, said he supports the foundation’s efforts and believes his late mother would, too.   

“Having a baby and not knowing what to do—she lived it,” Curtin said.  “The women that are going to be coming to this place deserve a second chance.”

THE FOUNDATION

The Paul Stefan Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to caring for needy, homeless and abandoned pregnant women before, during and after the birth of their children. It operates two  homes in Unionville, one in Falls Church and one in Fairfax.

President and CEO Randy James said the average mother helped by the foundation is between the ages of 24 and 26 and stays for 18 months. She receives tutoring, the chance to earn her GED or take college courses, and donations of furniture and diapers.

James, who lives in Spotsylvania County, said the foundation has provided a home for 150 women and babies through the years.

For more information, visit paulstefanhome.org or call 540/854-2300.

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