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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Family Services, Homeless & Housing, Housing & Shelter, Job Training, Single Parent Agencies

Mission: Good counsel is a family for those in need, serving god who is the father of the orphan, defender of the widow, and who gives the lonely a home to live in (psalm 68). [see continuation on schedule o][continued from part iii] - our lord's call to serve the disadvantaged compels us to offer love, shelter and the opportunity to grow in self-respect and independence. We invoke the patronage of mary, the lady of good counsel, to help us protect mothers in need and to love their children from the moment of conception.

Programs: Housing: offering your home to someone in need is a great act of charity. In fact, for christians, offering shelter is an expected corporal work of mercy. Especially if you are offering a bedroom to a pregnant mother who has no other place to call home. That is exactly what you do when you give a gift to good counsel because that gift becomes a sanctuary for that pregnant mother who has no one else. Like one mother who was told to get out of her house by her mother when she explained she was going to give birth and the father of her child already told her, "i don't want you to have that fetus. " [see continuation on schedule o][continued from part iii] - for those who gave during 2014, you allowed 230 mothers and babies have 43,368 nights of shelter in one of good counsel's 4 homes. Our occupancy rate for the year was 106%. Again we were more than 100% because every time there is a mother in a dangerous situation, literally on the street, or more likely in a domestic violence situation, whether a bedroom is available or not, good counsel staff will take in that mom and transform the living room, an office, or even a chapel into a temporary bedroom. Also, your support during 2014 allowed us to finalize renovations and hire staff to re-open good counsel's 5th home during 2015. If you have ever given to good counsel since our first mom and baby entered on sunday, march 10, 1985, you have helped serve, just in our homes, 6,230 women and children, providing more than 600,000 nights of shelter. More than 900 babies have been born to mothers at a good counsel home. There's more to good counsel than this, but this is the underpinning of our mission helping mothers and babies. Our homes are found in new york city, rockland and westchester counties in new york state and burlington county, nj. Mothers in need come from all over, literally throughout the united states, and some who were born overseas. How does one find herself in a good counsel home? Through hospital social workers or nurses; through people who hear a good counsel speaker at a banquet or an event or on t. V. Or the radio; through an online search; a doctor's offices; pregnancy centers or simply by calling good counsel's 24/7 helpline 1. 800. 723. 8331 or going to www. Goodcounselhomes. Org and sending an email. Inside a good counsel home all the corporal works of mercy are performed. Feeding the hungry: "i haven't eaten in two days," christy told sabrina, our intake worker, over the phone. "i'm starving and i have been looking for food that others are throwing away," the four-month pregnant woman quietly stated in an embarrassed tone. That night christy was having dinner, like a family member, at a good counsel table. During 2014 we served more than 25,000 meals to good counsel mothers and children. We do get some of our food donated and we share community meals at night but it is due to the generosity of you who support good counsel that everyone under our roof is feed. Giving drink to the thirsty: "angie loves her milk! " exclaims julianne her mom. "i think she goes through a gallon a day all by herself! "many of our babies drink formula but on average each good counsel home will consume 10 gallons of milk per week. That makes close to 2,100 gallons of milk per year! Clothing the naked: alicia was late arriving to good counsel in the bronx. Delores, then our house manager, stayed late to welcome her. Delores brought alicia into her new bedroom and told her to clean up before she would heat up some dinner for her. As alicia was in the bathroom showering delores noticed her shoes. They were very worn out and actually had holes in the soles. Delores thought it would be great for alicia to have some new shoes and so she searched all through the house in search of shoes that would fit but came up empty. Suddenly delores realized there was one pair of new shoes that would fit the new woman; the ones she wore. Gladly she gave them to our new resident. Visiting the sick: good counsel has a special home called daystar which is located on the grounds of st. Vincent's hospital in harrison, new york. The easy access to the medical facilities allows us to give special care to those who may be mentally ill or suffer from a substance abuse issue or both. Our special outreach to psychologically troubled pregnant women is one of the few in the entire country. Visiting the imprisoned: some women with a prison history or having outstanding legal issues come to good counsel. Sometimes there are outstanding warrants. Maybe minor offenses, but out of fear or not understanding, such offenses can be cause for imprisonment. Good counsel has advocated for mother's rights, particularly when she is close to giving birth or when it was clear she would benefit from prenatal care outside of a prison health care system. Of course, the good counsel continues to rectify whatever legal matters a mother may have. Thanks to pro-bono attorneys, particularly at the legal center for life of new jersey, many cases have been judiciously and appropriately adjudicated. Burying the dead: one of our most tragic events is when a good counsel mother miscarries or has a stillborn death. A respect for the dignity of each human person requires that we treat each life as sacred. Over many years good counsel has been blessed by many funeral directors who have offered complimentary services and churches that have opened their doors for masses and plots for burial. Grief shared is half grief, says an honduran proverb. "too many hospitals do not consider or offer a burial for a lost child," christopher bell stated following a recent funeral mass offered at st. Joseph's church in spring valley, new york for a baby named angel. "in the midst of the pain and loss we are prepared to be with a grieving mother and help her know that her child is being spiritually cared for as they make their way to the lord. " you may see and read more about good counsel's moms and babies at www. Goodcounselhomes. Org or by liking good counsel homes on facebook or finding our good counsel homes youtube channel www. Youtube. Com/user/goodcounselhomes

counseling:a typical definition of counseling: "advice and support given to help others with problems or to make important decisions. " a secondary definition is "professional guidance using psychological methods collecting personal history, comparing to others, and using various techniques including written tests. " both forms of counseling are commonly employed at good counsel. Every mom walking into a good counsel door becomes part of the family at her home. She begins a unique relationship with one case manager. [see continuation on schedule o][continued from part iii] - she will also have a mentor who is like her sister and can be any member of the staff. The mom may choose who is with her during her time of delivery. Every step of the way trained good counsel staff help each mom seek to uncover the struggles and strains which brought her to our doors. Good counsel mothers often report prior abuse, nearly 80%, either sexual, physical, or seriously emotional. Also, during 2014, some 20% reported having had at least one abortion. We know from other studies that this figure is largely understated. During the first month at good counsel each mom is guided to use online assessment tools to discover more about herself, her educational strengths and weaknesses and her vocational proclivities. Her case manager, along with her mentor and other staff will help her understand the assessments as well as constructively listen to the hopes and desires she has for the future. The case manager will officially meet each mother at least one hour each week. Other informal meetings happen as needed and usually more than once a week. Just the formal meetings totaled more than 10,837 during 2014. Additionally, more than half, about 56% of mothers received outside professional counseling. Given good counsel's open intake and ability to take in and assist for a year or longer mothers with great emotional, and often psychological challenges, seeing that of the 105 mothers who stayed 30 days or longer, their average length of stay overall was 12. 6 months. More than a third, 35%, made educational advances, and almost half, 48%, entered the work force. Also, it's most important to remember that every day a mother is in a good counsel home, she and her baby, before and after birth, is safe, eating well and encouraged to do the best she is capable. It's impossible to know and measure how much abuse and neglect is avoided or eliminated because someone is surrounded by a caring family, which good counsel strives to be for those in need.

life skills programs: a total of 702 life skills programs were received by good counsel mothers during 2014. Life skills help deepen a mother's knowledge and awareness of living a healthy, productive life. Life skills are presented formally in classes and individually as needed. Such areas as proper nutrition, child growth and development, health, and social skills are taught using specific outlines prepared for good counsel mothers. Personal finance is taught individually helping each mother develop her own budget. Spirituality is shared both formally in group meetings and individually as each mother desires and explores her relationship with god. [see continuation on schedule o][continued from part iii] - we share a loving, merciful, forgiving god who has brought us together to live for each other. Paid staff or professional volunteers, with expertise in each area, present life skills classes. Plus, mothers are able to take individual online classes in some of these topics. A minimum of three and sometimes four group classes are taught in each home each week.

in addition to programs already mentioned, there are other significant programs at good counsel, some of which have grown out of the needs many mothers and their children have expressed in our homes. Good counsel's intake staff operate a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week, helpline 1. 800. 723. 8331. Since beginning this national, toll-free helpline more than 33,200 people have received concrete help, phone counseling and support. During 2013 more than 3,400 calls were received. During 2014, some 3,522 calls came in, plus an additional 465 requests were emailed. Good counsel's website, www. Goodcounselhomes. Org is coming up high on google's rankings for "homeless and pregnant" meaning women in need from all over the country are asking for help. Good counsel is responding with added staff. Future plans will include additional online tools to automate help for mothers looking online in their geographic area, as well as an option to chat with a live person. Good counsel also operates a post-abortion counseling and referral network called lumina to help women as well as men and siblings suffering from past abortions. Confidential counseling is available through lumina's national, toll-free helpline 1. 877. 586. 4621 (1. 877. Lumina-1) or for information, please visit www. Postabortionhelp. Org good counsel stays in touch with mothers who leave through our exodus program, where former residents receive on-going counseling to ease the difficulties transitioning to independent living. Additionally, some single-parent families, not needing a good counsel home, still may receive good counsel staff assistance via outreach through our exodus program in a critical situation. Some 211 exodus and outreach families were assisted during 2014. During 2001, good counsel was one of the founders of the pregnancy services network of greater new york, a coalition of maternity homes and pregnancy centers in the ny, nj and connecticut area. The group meets regularly throughout the year. During 2013, good counsel also helped to form the national maternity housing coalition, a group of three dozen maternity homes throughout the u. S. Good counsel is represented on the leadership team of the nmhc and participates in regular conference calls, an annual meeting and conference all of which continue to bear much fruit in the way of sharing best practices and assisting new and existing homes.

Community Stories

8 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have been blessed to know the founders Fr. Benedict & Chris Bell for over 20 years. I have worked with Fr. B and met Mr. Bell several times. Meet them for yourself and you will see that Good Counsel is a true charity. If you want to make sure that your money helps a mom & child in need, give to Good Counsel. As God is my witness, this organization will use your funds to love your neighbor.

Review from Guidestar

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My comely bride once opened the first pregnancy counseling center in Manhattan, almost a quarter century ago. She had a lot of volunteer help, including even me on occasion, and the stories I learned from her then were often often fairly terrifying, but more often deeply moving.

Most all of these latter didn’t include many fireworks, but were steady and simple things; the small ways that people would go out of their way to help somebody else, like the woman who went after midnight to what was then a pretty scary Harlem, to bring a mother there some diapers for her newborn.

I don’t recall exactly when Good Counsel came into the picture, though I do remember that it did so soon, and, soon enough, regularly. I still know Good Counsel’s work only in the most general way, which is that it provides a haven to live for women with children, and pregnant women, when they have no place to go.

But I have tried to imagine what it would be like to be pregnant with no place to go, and no one willing to help except the abortion provider, which then wouldn’t mean much of a choice. Since Good Counsel has been around for a long time now, it has been able to provide such a choice for surely hundreds and maybe even thousands of women and their children; but though that reads as a fine statistic, I keep coming back to that one woman, feeling helpless and alone, maybe wanting to love her child, but – well, having no choice. And then, because of Good Counsel, discovering as though it were a miracle that she has a choice after all, and hope too.

Due to the warm and focused environment at the Good Counsel homes, it’s probably not a surprise that the miracle these women experience there has also helped most of them to get their lives back on track. Helped many even to become happy I expect, maybe not least because of the children they now love, that almost didn’t make it.

All this stands on its own it seems fair to propose. But also fair to suggest it worthy of recognition in the non-profit world, and the world at large.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am amazed to witness the impact that Good Counsel Homes, Inc. is making in our area. They are making such a positive change in the lives of pregnant women who have no place to go and have no support. Not only does Good Counsel help them with shelter, but with educating them about their choices. I am a proud supporter of Good Counsel Homes and I believe in their cause.

Michelle R.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This charity is so wonderful. They help women who are pregnant and find themselves with no place to go. Good Counsel homes helps them to become caring moms and productive members of society. There are several homes in NY and northern NJ. I am so grateful there is now one opening up in southern NJ. !! There is a big need for this.

Mary-Anne D.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I found myself alone and pregnant. Life was extremely difficult. If I only had an organization as wonderful as Good Counsel, all of the worry, fear, and struggling would have been eleviated. May God Bless their work always.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

God Bless the Members of Good Council Homes for the work that they do ... giving mothers, babies and families a second chance. Please support this worthwhile cause in all ways ... physically, monetarily and spiritually.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have known Chris Bell since before he began Good Counsel 25 years ago, and he is one of the most committed, sincere, and trustworthy persons I know. In helping Good Council with their video communication needs, I have come to appreciate even more the essential service Good Counsel does for young mothers and babies, and the quality, professionalism and dedication of the staff. They truly provide a healthy and home-like setting for those they serve.

Review from Guidestar

9

General Member of the Public

Rating: 3

I called good counsel because I needed to do a college paper on a place that deals with crisis. I really didn't know exactly what they dealt with, but they came up in my google search. When I got there, I was a little nervous because I didn't know how I would be receieved. I have heard some horror stories. Well I must say they were great. The staff were very polite and they made me feel very comfortable. I talked to them about good counsel for almost 2 hours. I was also able to speak to one of the women that live there and to my surprise we had a very similar situation and felt a lot of the same pain and confusion. Good counsel is a very needed service. If you read their site, don't think it is theory or what they would like to accomplish. Good counsel is making a very big difference in the lives of a forgotten group of women. I loved the atmosphere, it was very homely. The resources they provide not only helps the women, but teaches the women how to help themselves. Being that the program is not restricted to a particular time frame, the women can stay there and continue to better themselves until they can successfully go out on their own. I think this place is amazing. I will be volunteering my time at this agency in the near future and hopefully for years to come.

Review from Guidestar