In 2009, I interviewed a young single mother named Lacy Dodd who was serving on the Board of Directors of the Charlotte, North Carolina-based pregnancy resource center Room at the Inn. As someone who had experienced an unplanned pregnancy while in college, she wanted to help other women in similar situations.
Specifically, Lacy was promoting a very special project. In conjunction with Belmont Abbey College, Room at the Inn was working to create something Lacy called “truly revolutionary: America’s first campus-based maternity and after-care residence for pregnant college students.”
A study by the organization Feminists For Life of America discovered that even when there are resources for pregnant college students on campus, the perception of a lack of resources can drive a woman to either have an abortion or drop out of college to have her baby. That study motivated Room at the Inn to pursue a college-based residence program.
After years of fundraising and building, that dream finally became a reality on Monday, July 16. The Catholic News Herald has the details:
Well over a hundred people attended the ribbon-cutting celebration, held on the morning of the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, July 16. Room At The Inn has been assisting women of all ages in the Charlotte area facing unexpected pregnancies for 18 years.
The new 10,000-square-foot facility sits on four acres donated by the Benedictine monks of Belmont Abbey and will house up to 15 mothers at a time, providing emotional support and practical assistance to unmarried college women facing unexpected pregnancies. Residents will be able to have their babies and continue their education at nearby colleges.
The building took just over a year to complete – “only one year and 26 days ago,” said Jeannie Wray, executive director of Room At The Inn. “But who’s counting?”
Room At The Inn has received a steady stream of inquiries from pregnant students from as far away as the Midwest interested in joining the program, she noted in her remarks during the opening celebration. Further evidence of the need for these services has been the number of requests from around the world for Room At The Inn to build similar facilities in other locations.
“Over the past four months,” Wray said, “I have been contacted by people in three foreign countries – Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Argentina – who want us to come there to build a facility like this there. This is in addition to the requests from seven other states.”