It’s happening at Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina.
It was a summer of romance and fear.
A bittersweet mix that cast a long shadow through the years. One that Debbie Capen, 37, of Charlotte will remember today at the groundbreaking for what is believed the nation’s first college-based maternity and after-care residential facility for single pregnant women.
The home is being built on the campus of Belmont Abbey College and will be run by the Charlotte-based Catholic nonprofit Room at the Inn, a safe haven for single pregnant women. The organization’s outreach programs and offices will remain in Charlotte.
During today’s ceremony, Capen will recall the summer she was a rising sophomore at Winthrop University and waiting tables at North Myrtle Beach restaurants.
A fling with a handsome beach service worker stirred images of sailing off together on his catamaran. But the dream faded when she became pregnant. Afraid to tell her mother and worried about the possibility of having to drop out of college, she couldn’t find an adult who understood.
“I felt utterly alone,” said Capen. “I felt I had no other choice but abortion.”
The experience of having an abortion was negative – something Capen wanted to forget but couldn’t. Since then, Capen has tried to help other women going through the same thing.
The 10,000-square-foot home going up in eastern Gaston County at Belmont Abbey on four acres of land donated by the Benedictine monks is the kind of haven Capen didn’t have when she found herself in trouble as a teen. The Belmont Abbey project was spurred by a national survey that found facilities and services for pregnant women were needed on college campuses. The home will allow women to continue their educations and have babies.
“I’m really joyful to be part of a project that’s taking concrete action to help other women just like me,” said Capen, now assistant director of Room at the Inn. “It will help people to see that a pregnancy is not an end – it’s a beginning.”