Pregnant in college could mean a dream deferred. But instead of exploding dreams, the visionaries at Belmont Abbey College and MiraVia, have created a stopgap for pregnant students to not only help them finish college but to counsel them towards achieving short-term goals building to long-term goal-setting like financial independence and career plans. It’s not as technical as much as it is community; a community, in fact, where young mothers can still have dance parties in their pjs after nursing their infants and posting assignments after pulling overnighters...writing papers. MiraVia is about loving fully and well, being the Plan B for those reconsidering education after an unexpected pregnancy and opening their doors to shared resources with young moms.
MiraVia started in 1994 under the name “Room at the Inn” and opened its doors to provide no-fee residential services to pregnant women. In 2001, Abbot Placid Solari at Belmont Abbey approached MiraVia and said, “If you’re ever interested in serving pregnant college students, the Order of Southern Benedictines will donate the land.” It just so happened that in 2002 the state requirements for maternity home square-footage changed, and the number of women and infants MiraVia could house dropped and their approach became more aimed at post-natal care in apartments. Thus, the organization’s Board of Directors pressed pause on the maternity home idea on Weona Avenue because the building needed too much upgrading to pass new law requirements. They prayed and discussed their future direction. The time had come to take up Abbot Placid Solari on his offer; a home was born on the campus of Belmont Abbey - a place where nuns volunteer to be with the babies, and new moms/students could still make it to 8 am classes, set goals and develop a sense of independence. They are counseled, discipled, nourished, mentored and reminded that:
“For (God) created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” The babies are celebrated and grow together as one family. Share Charlotte is proud to partner with MiraVia who has moms that can attend any school. Currently, they have moms from 4 different states that have come here as a destination, and though it’s on Belmont Abbey’s campus, it is not just for Catholics.
As Executive Director Debbie Capen explains, “We serve out of our principles - where we see we can help. We help everybody regardless. The moms can stay up to 2 years and during that time we’re helping them figure out their plan for independence. Our goal is to empower them in how to sustain life during this transition time.”
Capen proudly described their first resident, Bianca, who graduated from UNCC and joined the military where she met her husband. For mothers like Bianca who are pregnant and pursuing education, making ends meet is utterly impossible without support.
MiraVia raises all money for both the mothers and infants to get food, clothes, residential care, counseling and life training skills, etc. at the Residential Facility on the campus of Belmont Abbey College, so they can focus on getting an education to support their family. In addition, over 700 Charlottean mothers and children were supported last year from their Maternity Outreach Center at 3737 Weona Drive. In the last 24 years, 8,060 women and children have received support, resources or residential care thanks to MiraVia.
If you are interested in helping support mothers, MiraVia is currently in desperate need of: diaper wipes, diapers in sizes 4,5 and 6 and Similac Neosure Baby Formula and you can purchase this from their Amazon Wish List. You can drop off donations at their Maternity Outreach Center where they offer all types of life skills classes.
If you’d rather donate time, they are looking for facility volunteers at both facilities and teachers for Life Skill classes as well as Child Care Volunteers to watch infants while their mothers attend classes. SHARE Charlotte is thankful for the opportunity to partner to help MiraVia help new mothers and, hence, help their babies as they grow.