Cleveland’s Own: Blessing House

In this month’s edition of Fox 8’s Cleveland’s Own, Matt Kaulig gets a tour of Blessing house from founder, Sister Mary Berigan.

Blessing House serves as a safety net for families in crisis by providing a safe shelter for children and support for their family. Blessing House is a faith-based organization that helps Northeast Ohio families in crisis by providing shelter for children and support for their families. Blessing House is a children’s crisis care center in Lorain County, caring for children birth through 12 whose parents or caregivers are facing a crisis, emergency, or who are experiencing a high level of stress that might put their children at risk of abuse or neglect.

Blessing House officially opened in 2005 by providing residential care for children of families in crisis. Since then, services have expanded to provide additional support for children and their parents or caregivers. Blessing House was co-founded by Sr. Mary Berigan and Donna Humphrey.

Blessing House funds its operations through local foundations, fundraisers including the annual Rock-A-Bye Ball that provides substantial contributions through United Way from individuals who designate us to receive their United Way contributions. Blessing House is also generously supported by businesses, organizations, churches, and individuals in the community who make contributions, sponsor fundraisers and help spread the word about Blessing House.

Fox 8 Cleveland’s Own

Fox 8 Cleveland’s Own is about good people doing good work in Northeast Ohio. WJW Fox 8 and Kaulig Charitable Giving Programs team up to celebrate Cleveland’s Own by highlighting the best of our region in a big way! Each month, Fox 8’s Stefani Schaefer and Kaulig Companies and LeafFilter Executive Chairman Matt Kaulig, share a story about a person or organization from Northeast Ohio doing good work.

To see more Cleveland’s Own stories, or to nominate an organization to be featured, visit Kaulig Giving’s Cleveland’s Own page.

Read the Transcript

Stefani Schaefer

Each month, Kaulig Giving and Fox 8 will highlight people, organizations, and charities making a difference in Northeast Ohio. It's time to celebrate Cleveland's Own.

Matt Kaulig

Hi, I'm Matt Kaulig. This month on Cleveland's Own we hear from Blessing Health. This faith-based organization helps Northeast Ohio families in crisis by providing shelter for children and much-needed support for families since 2005. Let's hear from Sister Mary and Donna from Blessing House.

Donna Humphrey

So, Sister Mary and I used to be a part of a program called Voices for Children. And that program involved representing children in the court system as child advocates.

Sr. Mary Berigan

And we began to see families where they were not abusive. They were not neglectful. They just totally got overwhelmed. Unfortunately, some of those children were kind of lost in the shuffle. I called her one Saturday morning and I said, you know, wouldn't it be great if we had a big house somewhere? We could bring the children in, let them stay with us, let the parents take care of whatever it is they need to take care of and then put them back together without involving courts or children services, or anyone else. Really trying to keep that family together.

Sr. Mary Berigan

And Donna being far more practical said ...

Donna Humphrey

Do you have any idea what you're talking about? And she said, no, but wouldn't it be a great idea? We both felt that it was really a calling from God. That it was just something that was on our hearts to do. We just knew that it was meant to be.

Sr. Mary Berigan

So in April of 2005, we welcomed our first child. We have handprints and records for all of the children that have stayed with us. And that number has now reached 1,600, with our youngest being a two-day-old baby straight from the hospital. And then our oldest children are twelve right before they turn 13. So we're seeing a few of our twelve-year-olds trying to get a little sneak visit into the new building before they reach their 13th birthday.

Donna Humphrey

Now we've got our new building that is going to allow us to accommodate up to 28 children at some point. And just provide, I think, so many more support services for families that are having emergencies.

Haley Elseger

My name is Haley Elsleger, and I first came to the Blessing House when I was nine years old. I would tell a boy or girl when they first came here that they might seem a little nervous at first, but that they will feel loved. And I would tell Donna and Sister Mary that I love them and I always will. And I appreciate their help and how far I have come today.

Sr. Mary Berigan

Matt, Come on in! Welcome. Glad to have you here at Blessing House.

Matt Kaulig

It's great to be here! So how does this new facility compare to the old Blessing House?

Sr. Mary Berigan

Oh, my gosh! So in the old setting, we started out with a two-story house. In that space, this bedroom was their entire play space. The other thing that is the way the space and the flow of the building based on that design we did with our blocks, the availability of everything we need is like right there ready to go. When we were talking about moving over here, I can't tell you how many contacted us to make sure our hand handprints from over there come over here so they have ownership of the new building.

Matt Kaulig

So, how can Fox 8 viewers help?

Sr. Mary Berigan

I would be remiss if I didn't say finance is always a good thing. You know, financial support. On our website, we have a list of things that we need all the time, just to take care of all the kids. And then we have a big event in November called Rock-a-Bye Ball, which we have had every year since we opened. It's a dinner and silent auction and live auction. It's a great event. It's really fun.

Matt Kaulig

So Blessing House, it's amazing Sr. Mary, what you guys do for the community for Northeast Ohio. And so thank you! To learn more about the incredible work at Blessing House and how you can support families in crisis, visit Blessinghouse.org. To nominate a person or organization for an upcoming episode of Cleveland's Own. visit Kauliggiving.com/clevelandsown. Make it a great day!