MATERNITY HOME FOR GIRLS IN NEED
“My clients were coming in younger and younger, and their biggest fear was, if they were going to parent this child, they had nowhere to go.”
Carissa Figgins, founder and executive director of The Sparrow’s Nest Maternity Home was a volunteer crisis pregnancy counselor with a local pregnancy resource center when she was introduced to an unusually large number of teenage girls with an unplanned pregnancy.
These girls are not from any certain demographic, she said. “Some may have an education, some may not. Some may be from well off families, some may not. Some may live with their parents, some may not. Some may be as young as 14.”
What they did have in common was a lack of housing while they were pregnant, Figgins said. “Maybe their pregnancy was the last straw with their parents and they were kicked out. Maybe because of growing economic concerns in our community one more mouth to feed just seemed impossible. Maybe everyone around them is pushing for them to get an abortion but they really want to keep the baby and need a safe place for the duration of their pregnancy.”
Figgins began the arduous task of trying to locate housing for minors. Discouragement settled in as she called area churches and agencies and discovered the services were extremely limited for everyone, but especially for minors.
“Most people agreed it was a growing issue in our area. Most people agreed we had limited services on our side of the river,” she said. “But no one really knew what to do.”
After countless telephone calls, conversations and meetings, and hours upon hours of research and prayer, Figgins knew what she had to do. So she decided to open up The Sparrow’s Nest Maternity Home for girls ages 14-18.
She said she realized very early on why few people had looked into the prospect of housing pregnant minors. “It’s messy dealing with people. It’s complicated dealing with minors,” she said. “It’s actually really difficult to accomplish the right, and moral and ethical thing to help other people.”
But, whether she wanted to or not, she was on her way to opening a home for young girls. “I couldn’t convince anyone else to take it on, so I just dove in myself. I have been working on it solidly since July 21, 2010,” Figgins said. And on July 25, 2013, over three years after she made her first phone call, The Sparrow’s Nest found a home.
She said she discovered that courage is “knowing you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway, and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.” The first win was when Figgins was working with a bank representative to secure financing for a building which she had not yet located at the time. That representative was Mark Hollander. He suggested using his church, Faith Chapel. The church in turn purchased a house and acreage for Sparrow’s Nest.
Figgins said the mission of the 501 (c)(3) nonprofit home is to provide a Christ-centered shelter and to educate homeless, pregnant and parenting young women by providing a wide range of services that empower them to make positive and healthy life decisions for themselves and their babies.
As if there was any doubt, Figgins said she realized it was her calling to orchestrate the plans for housing young moms when after the Sparrow’s Nest Maternity Home’s website went live in December 2010, the phone never stopped ringing. “It kept cycling back to me,” she said. “Labor and delivery nurses were calling. High school counselors were calling. Other houses in the state called saying the girls they were caring for could not go home. The girls themselves were calling.”
Figgins said whenever she felt like giving up, she remembered who she was and why she got into the business of helping young women to begin with. “I’m Irish and also a Christian,” she said. “I have a lot of righteous anger. It killed me that we tell these girls their life is over. I can’t stand for anyone to be discounted and brushed aside for a mistake.”
Convinced that The Sparrow’s Nest will make an extraordinary difference in the St. Charles County Community, Figgins said, “We have been blessed with a unique opportunity to positively impact the lives of young women and in so doing impact the lives of families in our community for generations. Through the power of Jesus Christ, a new and powerful story can be written on the hearts of these young women.”
There are lots of places for others to be “written into our story,” Figgins said. Whether it be through financial contributions or volunteerism, Figgins said, The Sparrow’s Nest Maternity Home has a need for the gifts and talents of everyone.
Many considerations went into naming the maternity home, Figgins said. A friend of hers came up with the idea, remembering the 1905 Gospel hymn “His Eye is on the Sparrow.” The two then recalled the Psalmist’s declaration, “Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young– a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God.” (Psalm 84:3 NIV)
Figgins said pirate lore dictates that two sparrow’s are always pictured together depicting loyalty and support. The logo for the home, a picture of mother and baby birds in a nest represents parents choosing to parent. The branch on which the nest sits symbolizes being connected to the church. “The nest is safety,” Figgins said. The purple (the color of the birds) is for boys and girls because pink and blue makes purple, and purple also depicts the royalty of God’s chosen people.”
The first Sparrow’s Nest Maternity Home is expected to open in December. For more information on donating or volunteering, contact : Carissa Figgins at The Sparrow’s Nest 6209 Mid Rivers Mall Dr. #119, St. Peters, MO 63376, call 636-336-2534, or visit www.thesparrowsneststl.org