Gala will help rebuild Paul Stefan Foundation home

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Nothing sets a project back quite like the damage caused by fire and water. The Paul Stefan Foundation, an organization that gives shelter to mothers in Unionville, experienced this firsthand when arson damaged its new Regional Maternity House and Education Center Oct. 17, 2016.

 

“We really had to keep focused on that because He wants us to be here for these women and these babies.” Randy James

The center, which has space for 25 women and their children, was scheduled to open this past spring but is now slated to open late fall or early winter, according to Randy James, founder and president of the Paul Stefan Foundation.  The six-month setback inspired the theme for this year’s annual gala, “Thy Will Be Done.”

 

“We really had to keep focused on that because He wants us to be here for these women and these babies,” said James. “You have to have something that drives it because you can get discouraged pretty easily.” James started the organization with his wife, Evelyn, after the death of their infant son, Paul Stefan, who died at birth from a lung defect. Being able to work for his son is what keeps James going every day, he said.

 

Proceeds from the gala will go to defray the $200,000 in damages incurred by the fire, which destroyed rooms in one wing while water from the sprinkler system damaged other rooms.

 

The foundation raised $26,000 immediately after the tragedy through the charity of hundreds of people.

 

Currently they have the capacity to care for 12 women between the other two Unionville locations, which are run by four full-time employees and 150 volunteers. The Regional Center will more than double their ability to help women and also will provide extra space for a commercial-sized kitchen, day care center, library, craft room, chapel, classrooms, lounge and exercise center.

 

The new home in Unionville can’t open soon enough. James said the organization receives about 10 calls a week from women inquiring about placement.

 

The gala is the organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year. Speakers include Randy and Evelyn James along with Father Stefan P. Starzynski, chaplain at Inova Fairfax Hospital, and March for Life President Jeanne Mancini. There will be dancing, food, a silent auction and many other ways for people to help the Regional Center rise from the ashes and welcome new mothers in need. 

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017