LIMA — What Julianne Frankhouser hopes to teach young girls is self-sufficiency. Having self-sufficiency and a “no excuses” attitude is how those young girls can put themselves into good situations.
She does this through Guiding Light, Lima’s first maternity home, licensed by the state effective June 18.
Guiding Light has progressed from having its bachelor’s degree to having its master’s degree, of sorts, said Frankhouser, executive director. Having its licensure allows it to apply for grants and gives it more opportunities to get help. Guiding Light is now recognized at a state level and allows the opportunity to expand.
Expansion is definitely under consideration, Frankhouser said. She also has thought about opening a rehabilitation home or a house for women, or a transitional house for after women give birth but before they are able to move into a home of their own.
The largest obstacle to being approved for licensure was a rule saying that every room has to have a bathroom, Frankhouser said. The rooms in Guiding Light do not all have their own bathrooms.
State Rep. Matt Huffman petitioned for a variance to the law so Guiding Light could get its licensure. After the variance was approved there were only minor issues found during the state’s inspection. The state will do yearly inspections so Guiding Light can maintain its licensure.
Guiding Light will be celebrating its maternity home licensure July 17. Frankhouser is welcoming anyone to come in for a tour of the house on that day.
Since Guiding Light opened about a year ago, Frankhouser said it has helped 14 girls. The house can hold five girls at a time. Girls age 13 to 22 can stay in the house but Frankhouser said that the average age is between 18 and 20.
“It’s kind of a boot camp to get them ready for a baby,” Frankhouser said.
Her passion for these girls comes from her similar past.
Women can live in the house at any stage of their pregnancy but Frankhouser said they are not allowed to have any newborns or young children in the house because that requires additional licensure.
The average stay is four months, according to Frankhouser. Girls can stay their entire pregnancy but the girls normally want to be out of the house and into a permanent situation before they give birth.
In addition to offering a place for pregnant girls to stay, Guiding Light also offers cooking, parenting and sewing classes, counseling and a support group. Frankhouser said outreach is very important to her, so she also goes to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Center Park and feeds families and has a short message or Scripture. In the past, a GED tutor has been available as well.
According to Frankhouser, she and the volunteers and staff members will also connect girls to community resources and make sure they get a job and they are in school and learning how to be self-sufficient.
Guiding Light has five to 10 paid staff members and volunteers on a regular basis. She hopes to be able to get funding now to pay those who supervise the house 24 hours a day, the house moms.