Bella Vita – Knox – Towne Post Network
Bella Vita offers a range of pregnancy resources
Screenwriter / Lois Tomaszewski
Bella Vita means “beautiful life,” and it’s the goal of a Starke County resource center that offers compassion, help and encouragement to expectant mothers.
It is a mission that literally saves lives and enriches families. It all started in 2010 when a young mother needed help, says founder Becky Bailey.
This mother was planning to have an abortion and even had an appointment set. Instead, Bailey told this future mother that if she went through with the pregnancy and gave birth, Bailey would take the child to raise. This promise was not kept because the young mother gave birth to a daughter whom she named Bella, and she is raising her daughter herself.
“She told me we needed a place like this for a lot of other people,” Bailey says.
This conversation and experience was the catalyst to make Bella Vita the resource center it is today. It continues to serve pregnant women in the community, as well as pregnant women from outside of Starke County. Too often expectant mothers fear rejection or ostracism from their family or community and come to Knox for the support they need. Others are transient and have nowhere to go while they are pregnant.
Bella Vita operates on the philosophy that people need a helping hand, not a helping hand. Women who participate in the program earn the resources that are provided, such as diapers, baby clothes and even cribs, by taking parenting classes. They take tests, have homework to do and undertake other tasks to prepare them for childbirth and raising children.
“A lot of the programs there are just medical, like a clinic,” Bailey says.
Her program offers ways to help overcome the worries of becoming a parent and helps develop life skills for a better start for a young mother. These are provided free of charge to those enrolled in the program.
Evidence of need is demonstrated by the number of clients served. In 2020, Bella Vita served 58 clients, 35 of whom completed the program and 12 of whom gave birth.
By working with other agencies, challenges such as finding daycare, finding work, and other concerns can be resolved, making the transition to parenthood a more successful experience. Bella Vita also helps parents who want to regain custody of their children by working on parenting skills and other issues.
Fathers are not left out either. Bella Vita runs a men’s mentorship program to help expectant fathers learn about parenthood. Mentors simply “make life” with future fathers, providing a role model and someone to talk to.
“They’re as scared of becoming parents as mothers are,” Bailey says.
Women who have had an abortion are also part of the clientele that Bella Vita serves. Often, women who have abortions carry this as a secret, a secret that remains hidden for decades. Letting go of the secrets, as the program is called, allows healing to occur and promotes mental health.
Bella Vita also offers screening tests for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and ultrasounds to confirm pregnancy. Staff members hope to expand their reach with a mobile unit that can visit communities outside of Knox to provide testing and help young women enroll in Medicaid and other resources. Infant mortality is high in rural communities, Bailey says, and a mobile unit may be able to make a difference. Donations are still being sought for the mobile unit.
There are many ways to help Bella Vita continue her mission. Volunteers are needed to help in the office, serve as mentors or peer counselors, and watch the children while the mothers attend classes. Nurses, in particular, are needed to assist with STD testing and pregnancy confirmations.
Donations are always appreciated, and support for the organization’s inaugural golf tournament this year, annual bake sale and banquet is appreciated.
Bella Vita is located at 801 South Heaton Street in Knox. For more information, call 574-772-2877 or email [email protected] For more information, visit bellavitaknox.org or find the organization on Facebook.