GAIL WHITE At Beatitude House, they expect divine intervention
Ten years ago, Sister Margaret Sheetz envisioned the idea of the Beatitude House in Youngstown. She wasn't sure exactly how she would accomplish her goal.
She simply knew that God had placed a burden on her heart to help struggling, single women with children achieve a better life.
Shortly after she conceived the concept, a home on Lora Avenue was donated to her cause.
"Things like that happen a lot around here," said Teresa Boyce, development director for Beatitude House, which is a ministry of The Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown.
"I will sit here one day and think we really need a new copy machine," Teresa said, smiling, "and the next day someone will call and ask if we could use a copy machine they don't need anymore."
Similar donations arrive in the form of cars, clothes and food "just at the right time."
Teresa doesn't understand this "divine intervention," as the nuns refer to these happenings, but she believes in it.
Even more miraculous, Teresa believes, is the change that occurs in the women who come to Beatitude House.
Strong women: "These women are so inspiring," Teresa said, explaining the very difficult backgrounds many of the women have endured.
Beatitude House is the umbrella organization for two programs to assist women with children.
A House of Blessing is a two-year transitional housing program. The original home, donated to Sister Margaret's cause, has been joined with three more homes on Lora Avenue and a converted convent on the West Side.
In total, A House of Blessing is home for 16 women and their children. These women remain at A House of Blessing while they pursue career goals, develop parenting skills and experience personal growth.
The Potter's Wheel is a job preparation program for the women of Beatitude House.
Women can earn their GED by attending classes at The Potter's Wheel. The program also provides counseling, computer courses, budgeting classes and many other support services.
"Beatitude House is unique because it deals with the whole person," explained Kathy Fischer, career specialist with Beatitude House. "Unless all issues are dealt with, a woman will not be successful on the job."
Beatitude House has helped Shelly Leventry in many areas of her life. She and her son, Chase, have been a part of both programs.
They will be leaving Beatitude House soon and moving into an apartment.
Taking charge: "Beatitude House has changed my life," Shelly said. "A major accomplishment for me is being able to tell people 'No.' Before, I would let them walk all over me. Now, I say no, and I don't feel guilty about it.
"They don't tell you what to do here. They make suggestions," she said. "I didn't know how to make decisions. My whole life, someone was always telling me what to do."
"Nobody's going to tell me what to do now," Shelly said in her new-found voice of confidence. "Everybody always told me I would never be anything in life. I am going to make something of myself."
Along with personal growth, Beatitude House also has also helped Shelly to improve parenting skills.
"My son and I have a great relationship now," she said, beaming. "He is everything to me."
Sister Margaret passed away in January, but Shelly is living proof that her legacy lives on.
And the legacy is growing.
Beatitude House has made plans to expand its ministry to struggling women in Warren.
Teresa expressed budget concerns and asked the Ursuline nuns, "Are you sure we want to do this?"
Teresa says the nuns responded, "Do it, and the money will come."
In another example of "divine intervention" and an affirmation to continue the work that Sister Margaret began, Beatitude House received a donation of a transitional home facility in Warren.