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Gabriel Project showers expectant mothers in Manassas

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Pink and blue streamers hung from the ceiling. Strollers, diapers, wipes, clothes, blankets and other baby items filled the room at the Vocare Center in Manassas for the quarterly All Saints Catholic Church Gabriel Project baby shower Sept. 17.

Volunteers worked with six expectant mothers on breastfeeding, how to set up and take down a Pack ‘N Play, and prayers. They left not only with these lessons, but with a greater knowledge that they are cared for during their time of struggle.

Vivian Casco, who has two daughters, is expecting a boy. With no form of income and a difficult pregnancy that precludes her from working, she said the help she’s received from Gabriel Project, including money for a month’s rent, seemed too good to be true initially.

“I’m just happy that I found help,” she said. “I thought I’d have to go to a shelter with a newborn baby. They’re helping with baby supplies. It’s cool they have this kind of help here.”

Casco is one of the many pregnant women assisted. Last year the group assisted 23 women, with the Manassas location being the busiest of the more than 15 Gabriel Project churches. They have provided support to about 60 women since January 2017.

Some of the women are referrals from the nearby Mother of Mercy clinic, and the women in need of help is increasing, according to Jeanne Ostrich, co-director of All Saints Gabriel Project, with Roselba Mejia.

“This group is a huge blessing, a ministry where the English and Hispanics work together,” said Ostrich.

Mejia said being part of Gabriel Project is an answer to a prayer. After a few years of going to the March for Life, she wondered what she could do to help women who decided not to abort their babies but needed help. Ostrich needed someone bilingual and after being invited by Father Juan A. Puigbó, parochial vicar with special care of St. Gabriel Mission in Manassas Park, to meet Ostrich, she felt her prayer was answered.

“I really love seeing the smiles on their faces,” she said. “They’re happy that someone supports them, like a shoulder to lean on.”

The women are accompanied by what Gabriel Project terms angels, volunteers who support them spiritually, emotionally and physically. “They give encouragement,” said Ostrich. “A lot of women feel alone or overwhelmed and need help. This is our way of walking beside them and supporting them.”

Ileana Harbour, a parishioner of All Saints, is an angel.

“I like the relationship and knowing that I will be a mentor,” said Harbour. “I love people and they really need help, a lot of them have nobody.”

Last year, diocesan Gabriel Project provided 376 mothers with prenatal care and/or monetary and medical assistance, and 63 babies were born to Gabriel Project mothers. Gabriel Project helps pregnant women with long- or short-term needs, involving a network of churches, crisis pregnancy centers and other agencies.

Find out more

Contact the Gabriel Project pregnancy helpline at 703/841-3810 or email info@h4pw.org. Go to helpforpregnantwomen.org. 


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019