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 locations in the Ogdensburg Diocese, including parishes in Potsdam, Massena, Gouverneur and Brasher Falls.
Volunteers referred to as angels help expectant mothers who may be experiencing emotional, financial or spiritual crises. 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, said Linda H. 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 to obtain 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 is 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 coordinator.
During a baby shower scheduled for March 22 and 23, St. Marys parishioners in Canton will be asked to donate baby items, which will be collected in a crib set up in the churchs entryway.
That is our kickoff event. We hope to have the program up and running by April, Mrs. Trill said.
Each pregnant woman is matched up with two volunteer angels who check in with the mother-to-be 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 are invited to donate their time.
Supplies for the Gabriel Project will be stored on 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, he said. If the service is available in Canton, more people may want to take advantage of it.
A large Gabriel Project sign will be installed in front of Cantons St. Marys church, similar to the sign at the Potsdam St. Marys Catholic parish. Funding for the program is provided 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.