On a chilly fall evening, Monica, a staff member at the Crisis Nursery, answered the door to find a young mother holding her crying infant son. The mother, Janelle, asked if the Nursery would be able to help her out with some diapers and formula for the baby. Due to the temperature and Janelle’s lack of a jacket, Monica invited her in. While Monica gathered items for Janelle, the baby continued to cry. Monica offered to fix a bottle for the little boy, and Janelle accepted.
Monica sat with Janelle while the baby was fed and asked Janelle if she, herself had had anything to eat that day. At first, Janelle simply told Monica that she was fine, but after a few more minutes, explained that she could use a snack. Instead of grabbing just a snack for Janelle, Monica fixed her a full dinner. While Janelle ate, another staff member gave the baby, now happily full, a warm bath and dressed him in fleece footie pajamas, which instantly soothed him to sleep.
As Janelle was handed her sleeping baby, she quietly began to cry. She explained to Monica that three days prior, she had found herself homeless, and the two had had nowhere to sleep except park benches. Janelle shared that she had barely slept in 72 hours since she knew she needed to stay awake to keep her son safe.
Monica thanked Janelle for opening up to her and spent some time talking to Janelle about the Crisis Nursery’s emergency care services. Janelle explained that she had only ever used the Nursery to get a few items for her baby, and was nervous about leaving her son, as the two had never spent a night away from each other. “I’m all he has, and he is all I have,” she said.
Monica led Janelle around the Nursery, showing her the bedroom where the little boy would sleep, the playroom where the children play, and the bathtub where he was bathed. Janelle watched as the other children at the Nursery played and remarked at how happy they seemed. Monica let Janelle know that, even though it’s a challenging time for a family, the Crisis Nursery maintains a fun and therapeutic environment, one where the children feel safe enough to relax and enjoy their stays.
Janelle was still unsure about leaving the infant, so instead, Monica began working on an action plan to find Janelle temporary housing. Monica called shelters in the area to advocate for the family and helped Janelle brainstorm other options. Eventually, Janelle was able to find a place to stay for a few days but was told that there would be no space for the baby. Janelle asked Monica a few more questions about Nursery services and then finally said that she felt comfortable with her little one staying there. She stated that she could tell from her time at the Nursery that he would be “happy, safe and loved on”. The baby was admitted to the Nursery, and both mom and baby had a bed to sleep in that evening.
The next morning, a social worker from the Crisis Nursery’s Family Empowerment Program reached out to Janelle and enrolled her in our home visiting services. Working together, the two found shelter space for the young family and, in just a few short weeks, Janelle had found a job and was well on her way to stability.
These days, Janelle is working full time, has housing of her own, and is a graduate of the Family Empowerment Program. Over the years, several mothers using the Nursery for the first time have told us that Janelle pointed them in our direction and assured them that their precious little ones would be safe in our arms.
The Saint Louis Crisis Nursery -- Saving Babies' Lives, Keeping Kids Safe, & Building Strong Families