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Dorm builds community between hall and home

Rebecca O'Neil | Friday, April 19, 2013


Le Mans Hall has found a home in the South Bend-Mishawaka community-specifically, Hannah’s House. 

The College’s largest dorm has paired up with this local organization, which provides shelter to pregnant women and new mothers.

Junior Emma Derheimer, president of Le Mans Hall, said it was her goal for the year to find a service project for the women of Le Mans.

“Every dorm on Saint Mary’s campus is paired up with a service agency in the community,” Derheimer said. “My board’s primary goal this year was to get more involved in the service aspect of Le Mans.”

Senior Morgan Talamantes said she serves as the College’s first ministry assistant, a job that includes working as an official liaison between Hannah’s House and the Hall. She said the maternity home, originally intended for unwed teenagers, advises residents about how to raise their children and manage money. Though the women do not pay to live in the home, Hannah’s House expects them to work and contribute to the community.

Talamantes said she worked with the dorm’s student board members to arrange a variety of opportunities for students to get involved with Hannah’s House. Students have participated in Mothers Support Group meetings each month, the Spaghetti Dinner fundraiser hosted by members of Hannah’s House and planning the organization’s annual Fall Festival. 

Talamantes said the Hall also hosts events for the residents of Hannah’s House. During one such event, the residents painted clothes for their children.

“The mothers came to [Saint Mary’s] to paint onesies and then took them home for their children,” Talamantes said. 

Derheimer said last month, the dorm held a baby shower for a mother in Hannah’s House. Donations included basic necessities for the newborn and the mother.

“As a social work major, I believe that we’re here to make a difference and we have the will to impact the South Bend-Mishawaka community,” Derheimer said. “We’ve shown the community beyond our campus that we do care and are interested in making an active difference.”

Talamantes said both the Hall and the House benefit from working together to help these women. 

“It’s been great meeting different mothers – and, of course, their babies,” Talamantes said. “We definitely learn from each other. Getting to know them builds students’ enthusiasm. We can build a community within the Hall and the home.”

Students may sometimes act as role models for the members of Hannah’s House, Talamantes said. 

“In a way, we show mothers that they can still fulfill their dreams,” she said.

Derheimer said Saint Mary’s students can help the young mothers find ways to succeed.

“We also bring support and show that that we care to give mom the feeling she is not alone. We know they want to succeed because they live there. All they need are the resources,” Derheimer said. “We can be a part of facilitating that.”

Talamantes said her work with Hannah’s House has showed her the value of the partnership between the College and the organization.

“Working with Hannah’s House has showed me the importance of continuing this partnership. We work well together,” Talamantes said. “I hope that once I graduate it grows into something bigger and blossoms.”

Hannah’s House will celebrate its 20th anniversary by opening a new house May 10, Talamantes said. Bishop Kevin Rhoades will bless the home. Students are encouraged to attend.