June 12, 2024 at 10:18 a.m.

STARTING A ‘NEW LIFE’

Catholic Maternity home opens inside old parish rectory in Columbia County
New Life Maternity, a local non-profit whose dedication to “Walking with Moms” has led to its first maternity home in Columbia County, run out of the old rectory at St. Joseph’s Church in Stottville. (Emily Benson photos)
New Life Maternity, a local non-profit whose dedication to “Walking with Moms” has led to its first maternity home in Columbia County, run out of the old rectory at St. Joseph’s Church in Stottville. (Emily Benson photos)

By Emily Benson | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

In a room painted with soft tan walls and matching tan bedspread, a crib holds a circle of dancing animals. In the mobile just overhead the blue and green sheets, zebras and giraffes gently chase each other in the rotating circle as the afternoon sun spills in through a nearby window. 

The softness of the room combined with the sweetness of the decor is enough to caress even an adult into a state of sleepiness and security, then again, that is the room’s hope. That for all who will enter this room — in particular, mothers and babies — it will serve as a place to sleep, study, eat and feel safe as mom prepares herself for motherhood.

New Life Maternity (NLM), a local non-profit whose dedication to “Walking with Moms” has led to its first maternity home in Columbia County, run out of the old rectory at St. Joseph’s Church in Stottville. NLM, which rents the building from the Diocese, has been renovating and re-decorating the old rectory since signing the lease in December 2023. 

Freshly restored, the home is now ready for use, and held its first set of open houses on Saturday, June 1, and Saturday, June 8.

“We had a lot of people who were thrilled to see the house and excited to have something like this in the area,” said Barbara Koerner-Fox, executive director. “That is kind of the final piece of the puzzle as far as the pro-life movement goes, that we have a concrete place for women to stay when they don’t have any other choice.”


The new maternity home is comprised of four bedrooms, each equipped with changing and nursing stations. (Emily Benson photo) Attendees included members from local Gabriel Project groups (parish-based outreach support groups for women facing an unplanned pregnancy), Dr. Jan Patterson, MD, founder of the Albany Gianna Center (a women’s health center focused on natural and ethical reproductive and fertility care), and donors for New Life Maternity.


The organization started in 2019 with a group of parishioners from Greene and Columbia counties — many of whom connected over the Alight Center, a women’s health center in Hudson — who felt the calling for a maternity home in that part of the Diocese.

“I was interested in it because for years in faith formation and talking to families, everybody talks about respect life, and they say, ‘Who is going to take care of these moms?’ And I always thought about it,” Koerner-Fox said. “So when I was introduced to (NLM) I thought, this is great, this is the answer to everything: To how we take care of these moms and babies, how they can have a place where they can have a life and learn life skills and finances and go out on their own and have their baby.” 

Koerner-Fox, who worked for years with Father Steve Matthews at Sacred Heart Church in Cairo, first heard of NLM when the president at the time, Noelle Ryan, reached out to the parish about using Sacred Heart’s old rectory space for a maternity home.

“We tried to make it work, but it never came to fruition,” Koerner-Fox said.

A few years later, when Father Matthews joined the Catholic Community of Northern Columbia County (comprised of St. James in Chatham, St. Joseph’s in Stuyvesant Falls, St. John the Baptist in Valatie, and at the time, St. Joseph’s in Stottville), NLM approached him again, this time about St. Joseph’s vacant rectory space. The second time around, the pieces fell into place.

“The Lord kind of put everything together for us,” Koerner-Fox said. “The parish needed some extra money, and things with the Diocese went well.”

“It’s come such a long way; it’s a wonderful place,” Father Matthews said of the rectory’s renovations. “It’s a win-win situation. It’s a win for them, and it’s a win for the parish.”


Toys for baby are available for moms to use in living spaces around the home. (Emily Benson photo)

 Similar maternity residency programs in the Diocese include the Heery Center for Young Families in Albany, run by Catholic Charities Community Maternity Services, which provides trauma-informed Residential Services for pregnant and parenting adolescents between the ages of 12 and 21.

Like many maternity homes, NLM will serve mothers in need during their first few months of motherhood by helping moms plan and prepare for their baby, secure proper income and housing, and offer emotional support during their transition.

The house is comprised of four bedrooms, each fitted with a crib and chair for nursing, and living room spaces for lounging filled with various baby and toddler toys. Mothers will be guided along with help from volunteers, NLM staff, and fellow moms staying at the home to learn necessary life skills. Each mother will be responsible for laundry, cooking meals, planning out finances for each week, and participating in Bright Courses, an online video-streaming service to help teach prenatal care, parenting, relationships, life skills and more. 

“I feel like this is the answer; this is a solid thing,” said Koerner-Fox. “Prayer is important,” but when shelters, pregnancy centers or parishes are helping pregnant mothers with nowhere to go, “now it comes full circle, and they have a place they can send moms. They can say, ‘Here is a place to go.’"

For more information on volunteering, donating or getting help, contact New Life Maternity at [email protected] or (518) 860-2214 or New Life Maternity, P.O. Box 755, Hudson, N.Y., 12534.


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