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Former 46-acre college campus in Papillion now a maternity community for moms and babies in crisis

Vita Nova founder, Jessica Thurmond Jurgensen, recalls wondering: "Why don't we do one? Why don't we build one? Why don't we start new?"
Posted at 5:06 PM, May 29, 2024

PAPILLION, Neb. (KMTV) — Could what's happening in Papillion be a blueprint someday for the nation? That's possible, but the goal right now is to help our neighbors: vulnerable pregnant women and families.

  • Unique to the area, Vita Nova Maternity Community opened on May 20 after months of renovation. The 46-acre campus was previously Nebraska Christian College.
  • The center works with partner organizations to admit moms-to-be, 19 years and older, who are in crisis.
  • Jessica Thurmond Jurgensen realized the need years ago when she volunteered at a transition home. Then, she says, the area had just 28 total beds for women who needed help. Vita Nova starts with 10 suites and has room to expand to 30 suites in time.

Continue reading for the expanded story.
Safety and support. You'll find signs of that promise all around the 46-acre campus in Papillion which was Nebraska Christian College. It's a serene place now dedicated to pregnant women in crisis, where they aren't just protected - but empowered.

"Be it health and nutrition, parenting, financial literacy so that when they do go to leave Vita Nova and live independently on their own, they really feel like they're able to do that in a healthy and successful way," said Suzanne Rogert, executive director of Vita Nova Maternity Community.

Founder Jessica Thurmond Jurgensen explained how the the seeds of this center were planted years ago.

"I had an opportunity to volunteer at a maternity home, transition home. And during that time, I learned of the need."

Thurmond Jurgensen says, at the time, the Omaha area had just 28 beds for women who needed help. Vita Nova has 10 suites with room - over the years - to grow to 30 suites. It's not a walk-in sort-of-place.

"The WCA, with Youth Emergency Services, with MICAH House in Council Bluffs... And so all of those types of agencies who are seeing these women in various states of need can refer them back to Vita Nova," Rogert specified.

The backstory is one worth knowing more about, as Thurmond Jurgensen shared a conversation with her husband, Jerry.

"Why don't we do one? Why don't we build one? Why don't we start new?"

The couple first saw the campus in December 2022.

"When you know there's a need out there to help women and women who are pregnant, women who may be homeless. They have no support system," Thurmond Jurgensen emphasized as their motivation.

At Vita Nova, women 19 and older, of any belief or background, can stay for up to 12 months, then take part in an alumni program. Having gardens and learning to grow food is one example of how the center does things differently. In time, they aim to be a national center of excellence which other communities could learn from.

But right now?

"We don't have it down pat. We're going to have so many - I don't call them challenges, I call them opportunities - to learn and to do something different. But when we have our first baby here? That will be the joy," Thurmond Jurgensen said as tears filled her eyes.

Because that is the dream - to provide safety and support so that at least two generations might have a vita nova. A new life.

Prior to opening, everything at Vita Nova Maternity Community was privately funded, but they're at a stage now where they welcome support, specifically monetary donations, gift cards and purchases from their Amazon wishlist. This link provides the best starting point.

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