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Bethlehem House offers hope to mothers on brink of homelessness

Posted at 10:54 PM, Jul 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-20 23:54:49-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — An unexpected pregnancy can bring a lot of stress and uncertainty. But for Sarah Howarth, it was exactly what she needed to get her life back on track.

“I don’t know where I would be if I would have never gotten pregnant," Howarth said. "I’ll be honest, I’d probably be six feet under or committed to a psych ward.”

Howarth says the person she is today would be unrecognizable to the person she was just three years ago.

For the first time in her life, she has a steady job, a home, and the confidence that she can be a good parent to her son.

But it wasn’t an easy journey to get here.

“I found out I was pregnant unexpectedly, and I really had nowhere to go," Howarth said.

A few months into her pregnancy, Howarth went to Bethlehem House, a nonprofit that aims to give moms who are often on the brink of homelessness what they need to create a better life for their children and themselves.

Gina Tomes, director of the Family Life Program, says women often come from situations where they have no family support, are fleeing domestic violence, or dealing with addiction and mental health issues.

But through the programs, she sees the women ready to change their lives.

“When they get here, you see just an openness and a willingness and the drive to not want to go backward, to want to move forward," Tomes said.

And for Howarth, like many people, one skill set she needed to learn was money management.

“They were an absolute disaster," Howarth said. "Like I was on the brink of bankruptcy.”

But just like with everything else, Bethlehem House gave her what she needed. Through a partnership with Creighton University’s Financial Hope program, Howarth began her journey to financial stability.

“I want to be able to know that I can do it on my own," Howarth said.

On Tuesday night Howarth was one of several women to graduate from the financial hope program, leaving with only a student loan and car payment and confidence.

Julie Kalkowski, executive director of the program, says the goal is to give women the knowledge they need to be successful.

“That’s what we want them to say 'I got this. I can do this,'" Kalkowski said. "The community wins, their kids do better.”

As for Howarth, she says getting pregnant and finding the Bethlehem House was the best thing that happened to her.

“Jude saved my life," Howarth said. "Gina and her team and the Bethlehem House saved my life so that I could save Jude's life."

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