Maternity home thrives because of a woman who experienced the same need

Maternity home thrives because of a woman who experienced the same need (God's Lovely Butterflies Maternity Home)

Darlene Kearney is one busy woman. 

For the past four years, she has operated God's Lovely Butterflies Maternity Home and resource center in the Houston area, primarily from her own funds.

And that's in addition to being a single mom and having a full-time job.

Back in 2010, Kearney had a vision that held a strong message for her: help pregnant moms and open a maternity home. 

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"In this vision I saw pregnant moms, newborn babies, butterflies flying around, and I woke up knowing what I was supposed to do," Kearney said. 

Kearney herself had been a homeless teenage mother, so she knew what it is like to be a mom in this situation and in need of support. 

She began realizing her new mission by giving out diapers and wipes to moms in the area and having baby showers for them. While working and taking care of her first child, she found that she loved helping moms who were really in need, and she was learning a lot about just how to do that.

By 2019, Kearney was married and had two more children. With more stability and a steady job in her life, she opened two small maternity homes in the southeast area of Houston. 

She wrote the mission statement for God's Lovely Butterflies Maternity Home:

Transforming Teenage Mothers, Single Mothers, and Pregnant Mothers to be the best independent caregivers they can be for their children. Educating and teaching on the daily survival tools to make it in this diverse world. Supplying love and support in the home. Through guidance and dedication. Making sure every female becomes the Lovely Butterfly God called them to be. Helping mothers overcome homelessness. Giving the mother a stable homelike setting for themselves and their babies. Proving stability, resources, and referrals so each mother can be the best provider to their children. 

Her salary paid the rent for both residences, and she did most of the work involved from her office in a small "resource center;" talking to potential residents, obtaining furniture and food, encouraging donations of maternity and baby clothes, ensuring the babies were in daycare while their mothers were at school or work, all the phone calls and paperwork, handling any problems or repairs. 

Running and supporting two homes was an enormous undertaking, so it was decided that having one maternity home would be more practical. Since 2021, God's Lovely Butterflies has operated the one maternity home that can house up to four mothers and four young children.

Potential residents are interviewed and informed what the expectations are. They must be either working, in school, or in training during their stay. Mothers and their babies may stay between three months and a year. They're expected to follow the house rules, participating in programming, cooking, cleaning, etc. A house mother has been living on site for the past 18 months, and volunteers help out with special events such as baby showers, Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

     God's Lovely Butterflies Maternity Home

God’s Lovely Butterflies being Christian-based, Kearney encourages the moms to go to church with her on Sundays, although it isn't required. Abstinence and marriage are routinely emphasized.

In addition to the maternity home, the ministry offers free diapers and wipes to any woman in the area who needs them and is willing to attend a parenting class. Posters about the home’s services are hung up around the community. 

As word got out in the area about the maternity home that was providing so much for moms in need, people started coming forward to contribute. 

"I have one woman; I don't even know her name, she's been anonymously donating $100 a month by PayPal since we opened,” Kearney said. 

“My church and several other churches now collect diapers, baby clothes, and other baby things like car seats and bassinets for us,” she said. “Walmart and Whole Foods contribute, and Bel Furniture has given us furniture. We have a local sorority and other school kids either collecting things and donating or coming in to volunteer."

God's Lovely Butterflies runs an annual baby bottle campaign, where empty baby bottles are distributed in churches, brought home, and filled with change and returned. Other fundraising includes Giving Tuesday and a GoFundMe account.

"And every October, on my birthday actually, we have a community baby shower held at our resource center, and everyone is invited,” said Kearney. “Whoever wants to come and bring a gift. It's a lot of fun and of course there's cake and all sorts of food."

The maternity home now has the support of a lot of businesses and services in the community. Through a local bank, money management classes are offered for the moms every other month. A day care center gives a discount to maternity home residences, Kearney herself gives computer classes, and there are other classes on HIV/STDs, breastfeeding, and parenting.

God’s Lovely Butterflies has now supported over 400 young moms, all because of the compassion and dedication of one mom who’d been in the same situation.

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