BUFFALO, NY-- It's a story about three women from different generations, who are not connected by blood, but by love. And what binds them is a devotion to a shared mission: motherhood.
Cheryl Calire is the founder of the Mother Teresa Home on Buffalo's East Side.
"It's something I'm called to do and I wouldn't trade it for anything," says Calire.
Calire is a self-described passionate catholic, and several years ago during a moment of deep prayer, she came up with the inspiration to develop a ministry focused on mothering, new mothers-to-be.
"The Mother Teresa name just kept ringing in my head-- and I just thought-- "Mother of the World!"
The former rectory of St. Adalbert's Parish on Buffalo's East Side is now the Mother Teresa Home—a place for young, pregnant un-wed women with no place to go. It had been sitting vacant for over a decade when Cheryl made a pitch to Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone, to let her take on the mammoth task of converting it. But this home was to be much more than just shelter.
"While they're here we're going to strategically put a plan together for them to empower not to enable, so that they can effectively parent and be independent, so that they can raise their family," says Calire.
“The idea was great from the beginning,” added Bishop Richard Malone.
Bishop Malone was already looking to fulfill a request from Pope Francis to develop a program in the diocese that showed mercy and compassion to others. And what better cause than young mothers who had bravely chosen life-- in the face of very challenging circumstances.
“Cheryl and her husband, Dave, and then other people got involved, transformed this building into what is now not just an empty shell full of dust, but a beautiful, gracious, warm, inviting space," explained Bishop Malone.
“I never imagined myself in a place like this because it’s so beautiful,” says resident Kia Fuller.
Fuller was 21-years-old and six months pregnant last winter. She was separated from her baby's father when she heard about a place that could help her prepare for her new life.
"I was just struggling a lot. And I had to quit my job because it was just too much for me, and my anxiety and everything was just going off. So that was pretty bad," explained Fuller.
She knew she needed help, not only learning how to care for her son Ethan, but also making a life plan that includes finishing her education and living independently. And she never expected the help would come with such a warm embrace from Calire and staff.
“She's like a mom. She really is. She cares and she's really, like, thorough about everything. And whenever I need advice she is always there, “ added Fuller.
Calire teaches young women what she knows: to follow your heart... to pray... and to persevere.
“They have it within them to do it. They just need someone to bring it out in them. And I like to think that when they look back on their time here, that we are the ones who actually helped them dig deep within themselves to be able to bring out all of the beautiful qualities that they have… and bring them forward to their children,” Calire explained.