Eight years ago, Bill Klatt retired from his position as respect life director for the Diocese of Camden to focus on an ambitious volunteer project: opening a home for expectant mothers confronting homelessness.
In 2010, the home opened at a former convent in Riverside, NJ, as part of the Good Counsel Homes network. Housing about 10 mothers and their children at a time, Good Counsel provides wraparound social services, empowering women by working with them to build parenting, job, and home financial skills.
This afternoon, Bill and another Good Counsel volunteer, Deacon Russell Davis, invited me to visit the home with them.
What I found was a place that understands what it means to be “pro-life”. Good Counsel welcomes expectant mothers of all faiths, backgrounds, and circumstances, women who are too often ignored. Women who are victims of domestic violence, or who are battling addiction. Good Counsel lives the belief that these women and their children have immense value.
In an interview with the Burlington Times in 2011, one of the first women to stay at the home spoke “with confident hope”:
“The home is inspirational,” she said. “They give you a lot of love. It makes you want to be a better person.”
Bill described the powerful message of the interconnectedness of faith and works from the Letter of James: what good is it to say to a woman “don’t have an abortion” if we fail to provide viable alternatives?
On my drive home, I turned on the radio just in time to hear a classic Bob Dylan tune, in which he sings over and over again: “‘Come in,’ she said, ‘and I’ll give you shelter from the storm.'” What serendipity. And what a way to sum up Good Counsel’s mission.
Visit them online here, and to support the Riverside home, contact Bill Klatt at firstname.lastname@example.org.