By Sister Theresa Mayrand, OP
Sister Theresa Mayrand wrote the following article for the newsletter of Gianna House Pregnancy and Parenting Residence, whose mission is to serve as “a sacred sanctuary for its residents, each of whom deserve to continue the life of her unborn child in an environment imbued with spiritual grace, emotional and social support, and knowledge.”
January 9, 2017, Detroit – As Gianna House prepared to host a holiday shower for 25 expectant and new mothers on December 19, untold people showered us with gifts of their time, talent, and treasure!
Their incredible goodness enabled us to offer a wonderful evening of enrichment for the mothers, who enjoyed a meal, beautiful raffle gifts, a large infant gift bag, a gift bag for themselves, a presentation on the importance of reading to infants, and a tote bag with children’s books.
To prepare a festive Christmas environment, 20 teens belonging to Students for Life at Grosse Pointe South came on December 4 to decorate, make name tags for the infant gift bags, fill the moms’ gift bags, and sanitize donated used plastic toys. In addition, they contributed $310, which they used to purchase new toys.
Gianna House Partners Donna Neuman, Patti Ralko, and Sister Helen Susalla, CSJ, spent much time on the phone taking and confirming reservations. The infant gift bags were all filled by Gianna House Partner Christie Burley-Lietzow, who took great time to ensure that each infant would receive clothing and other gifts of appropriate sex and size. Each infant received four outfits, blankets, hooded towel, bibs, hats, diapers, wipes, baby wash and shampoo, and a stuffed animal. All items were new and most had been contributed from parish giving trees and showers hosted by Daughters of Isabella and other organizations. When the supply of baby soap and shampoo had run low, several Adrian Dominican Sisters contributed more of these items.
Gianna House Partner Bonnie Garofalo sent out a Facebook SOS for toys and collected four boxes of new stuffed animals and other toys. Others also contributed toys. Several Gianna House Partners, as well as the visiting teens, had spent many hours sanitizing all used toys.
Many unique gift items, which had come in during the year were beautifully wrapped in bows and sprigs by Gianna House Partner Sister Helen Susalla, CSJ. Each mom received a gift of her choice during the evening’s raffle.
Toiletries donated by many individuals and groups over the year and were used to fill the mothers’ gift bags. Christmas footies brought unexpectedly by four individuals the week before the shower were added to each bag. Also added to each bag was a $15 gift certificate donated by a group of women gathered together via Facebook by Dominican High alum Katy Walsh, a former student of Sr. Theresa.
Michelle Block Garr, organizer of the Slippers for Mom project, brought 30 pairs of new slippers. These and many crocheted scarves, hats, and headbands made by numerous women were special treats for the guest.
The evening began with an icebreaker, followed by a presentation on the importance of reading to infants by Cathy Rostoni, a reading specialist from St. Clair Shores Lakeview Schools, who also contributed a book to each of the 25 reading tote bags donated by Macomb Intermediate School District.
After prayers for both infants and mothers, all enjoyed a meal prepared by 12 Gianna House partners and served by five others. Eight partners served as elves in the family room, helping with the raffle and gifting, and four others set up an amazing toy shop in the dining room after the meal. Board member Tom Masson was on hand again this year to take portrait photos of each mom and her infant.
Our holiday event was truly a feat of amazing gifting!
To read an article about this event, published in the Macomb Daily, please click here. Also please note that, while this article refers to students of Dominican High School, the women involved in Gianna House are actually alumnae of Dominican; the school closed several years ago.