By Lou Baldwin
Special to The CS&T
Helen McBlain, who was recently appointed executive director of Mother’s Home, a residence on MacDade Boulevard in Darby that provides shelter to women with crisis pregnancies, brings to the table a lifetime of commitment to the poor in spirit.
Just to mention a few items of her resume, she served for nine years as an advocate for abused children with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) in Media, and for two years with COSA (Delaware County’s Office for Services to the Aged) where she investigated cases of elder abuse. Then she took time out to care for her own dying mother and also did some part-time work in home health care before coming to Mother’s Home.
Born Helen McMullen, she attended St. Laurence School in Upper Darby and Archbishop Prendergast High School in Drexel Hill before obtaining a bachelor’s degree from Neumann College in Aston.
She’s married to Deacon Paul McBlain, ordained in 2001, who is associate director of the archdiocesan Office for Permanent Deacons at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary and also serves as a deacon in their parish of residence, St. Joseph in Collingdale. They have seven children: John, Mary Kathleen, Joseph, Maureen, Erin, Beth Ann and Michael, ranging in age from 44 to 27. They are also the proud grandparents of 20.
McBlain is no stranger to Mother’s Home; she was one of the founding members two decades ago.
“We will celebrate our 20th anniversary on April 20,” she said.
As to why she does what she does, McBlain said, “My concern is life doesn’t seem precious to some people. I want to help less fortunate women bring their babies into the world safely and to build their own life and parenting skills; to improve their own self-esteem and achieve goals they set for themselves.”
Among the challenges is that many of the women who seek assistance from Mother’s Home are products of a hostile home environment and are ill prepared to be mothers because they lack parental tutelage.
“In a large degree we try to promote parenting skills (and) teach them how to respond to people,” McBlain said.
Women who come to Mother’s Home range in age from 18 to mid-40s, with the majority in their 20s and 30s, she said. At this point there are eight women in residence, but the capacity is 18. Her immediate goal is to raise the number of residents because of the obvious need for Mother’s Home’s services.
Although an obvious reason for the founding of Mother’s Home was to give desperate women an alternative to abortion, it’s not just a matter of housing them until they have a baby. Staff teach them practical life skills, point them to avenues for vocational training and connect them to community support systems, which can help them achieve and maintain independence in the future.
In addition to monitoring prenatal care, staff members follow through with post-natal monitoring. The organization is welcoming to the program fathers and/or other extended family member swho are supportive of the mother and infant.
For more information on Mother’s Home see www.mothershome.org.