Life Fund offers a lifeline

| Susan Klemond for The Catholic Spirit | January 4, 2012 | 0 Comments

Program helps families with pregnancy or infant-related needs

Nichole Alberg plays with her 4-month-old son, Elias, at their home Dec. 31. Dianne Towalski / The Catholic Spirit

Nichole Alberg has a little more time to stay home with her baby son this month before going back to work in February, thanks to an archdiocesan program called the Life Fund, which offers one-time emergency assistance to low-income pregnant women or couples and those with children up to 12 months old living within the archdiocese’s boundaries.

“Day care’s super, super expensive and I really didn’t want to go back to work right away so I applied for a grant through Life Fund to help with my rent,” said Alberg, who received $300 for the January rent on the house where she lives in St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood. “Half of it’s covered so that eases my mind.”

Decades of help

Alberg, a St. Paul native, is one of 52 women or couples who have received grants since July from the Life Fund, an outreach started in 1990 which, through donations, helps women carry their unborn babies to term or care for their infants by providing funds for housing costs and other needs. Alberg found out about the grant through the Highland LifeCare Center in St. Paul, which helped her apply for it.

Funding for the program comes from responses to fundraising letters and donations collected at the Jan. 22 Prayer Service for Life at the Cathedral of St. Paul preceding the March for Life to the State Capitol and rally on the anniversary of the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. (This year, since the anniversary falls on a Sunday, there will be Mass at noon instead of an ecumenical prayer service. The rally at the Capitol will take place at 2 p.m.)

Parishes also raise funds for Life  Fund through second collections and other Respect Life projects. The program raised $50,000 during the 2010-2011 fiscal year, said Sonya Flomo, Life Fund grant administrator, adding that the archdiocese pays the costs of administering the program.

Economic uncertainty has meant greater need for assistance, Flomo said. “Unfortunately, the need is increasing with the economic situation as people lose their jobs and with cutbacks in government funding.”According to Life Fund organizers, nearly every pregnant client who receives help from the program decides to carry her baby to term. Since the fund was created, it has helped hundreds of abortion-vulnerable women with expenses including rent/mortgage payments, medical and hospital bills, food, prescription drugs, prescription formula and utility bills.

The Life Fund often works with Cradle of Hope, a nonprofit organization also offering one-time assistance to pregnant women and mothers of infants, Flomo said. Life Fund grant applicants are sometimes screened by organizations such as crisis pregnancy centers and hospitals before their applications are reviewed and approved by Flomo. The grants, which average $300, are sent directly to the applicant’s landlord or other vendor.

Good opportunity

Applying for a Life Fund grant was simple, Alberg said, adding that the Highland LifeCare Center has offered both material and mental support since her son was born in August.

“There’s a lot of things going on after you have a baby when your hormones are crashing,” she said. “It’s a hard time, so I had someone there to talk with, which really helped me at that time, too.”

The rent assistance Alberg received will make it easier for her to make ends meet as she returns to her job with the State of Minnesota next month. She said she appreciated the opportunity to apply for the grant.

“I thought it was wonderful,” she said. “I didn’t really know what was out there when I applied for it. It’s just one more thing that makes it easier and helps us.”

For more information about the archdiocesan Life Fund, please contact Sonya Flomo at (651) 291-4515.

Pro-life Mass, march are Jan. 22 in St. Paul

The annual Prayer Service for Life will be a Mass for Life this year at the Cathedral of St. Paul on Sunday, Jan. 22 — the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 decision legalizing abortion in nearly all circumstances.

The Mass, with New Ulm Bishop John LeVoir presiding, begins at noon. All are invited to attend.

The annual March for Life, sponsored by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, will follow at 2 p.m. at the State Capitol.

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Category: Respect Life