CANTON - A national Catholic outreach program that provides friendship, baby supplies and other assistance to pregnant women is expanding to St. Marys parish, 68 Court St.
The Gabriel Project already operates in 11 other parishes in the Ogdensburg Diocese including parishes in Potsdam, Massena, Gouverneur and Brasher Falls.
Volunteers, referred to as angels, help expectant mothers who may be in crises, either emotionally, financially or spiritually. Help is provided to all pregnant women who ask for it, regardless of their religious affiliation or financial situation.
We help every mom or family who comes to us, regardless of their religion, said Linda L. Trill, a St. Marys parish member who is coordinating the new group. We are profoundly committed to not only the unborn, but to mothers and families.
Sometimes women seek help obtaining baby equipment like a bassinet or a crib. Others may need a ride to the doctor or help getting diapers, clothing, formula, and other supplies.
Mrs. Trill said she was attending Gabriel Project meetings in Potsdam when she was encouraged to start a separate group in Canton.
There seems to be a terrific need in this area, she said. We are just setting up. Its going to be a challenge, but a good challenge.
This Saturday, a group of 12 volunteers are scheduled to meet for a three-hour training session with women who have run the program in other communities, including Margaret C. Choong, Potsdam coordinator, and Donna Steenberg, Brasher Falls.
During a baby shower scheduled for March 22 and 23, St. Marys parishioners in Canton will be asked to donate baby items that will be collected in a crib set up in the churchs entryway.
That is our kick off event. We hope to have the program up and running by April, she said.
Each pregnant woman is matched up with two volunteer angels who check in with the mother regularly, either by telephone, email or face-to-face visits. At times, mothers are referred to other agencies for help with some of their needs.
Those who wish to volunteer in other ways, can do things like wash and sort gently used clothes, knit or crochet blankets or help transport baby furniture. Both men and women can donate their time.
Supplies for the Gabriel Project will be stored in the second floor of the parish rectory.
The Rev. Douglas Lucia, parish pastor, said hes aware of mothers in the Canton area who have turned to the Potsdam Gabriel Project because they needed help.
I know in the past there has been a need. If the service is available, more people may want to take advantage of it, he said.
A large Gabriel Project sign will be installed in front of Cantons St. Marys church, similar to the sign at the Potdsam St. Marys Catholic parish. Funding is through the dioceses Respect for Life office and donations. For more information, Mrs. Trill can be reached at 212-9918 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.