A year ago, this coming November, we met with representatives from Mercy Hospital to discuss the potential use of one of their properties. Right across from Central Mall in a quite, tree lined neighborhood, they owned three houses. They were originally kept for visiting doctors to stay in but one property wasn’t in use any longer. They affectionately called this house on Ellsworth Road, the Baggot Street House. Named after the original property in Dublin, Ireland which was a refuge for distressed women and which later became the Convent of Mercy.
They told us how, in the 1800’s, Catherine McAuley was gifted the property and began to use it to care for the poor in southeast Dublin. She taught disadvantaged children, nursed the sick and housed needy women in her community. The Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy grew out of Catherine’s work and in the 1980’s interest in the original house increased and the Sisters of Mercy began an international restoration project. Today, Catherine’s spirit lives on in The CALL Support Center, or as our friends from Mercy call it, the Baggot Street House, right here in Ft Smith.
Mercy wanted to continue Catherine’s original work of providing for the disadvantaged. They reached out to The CALL because they knew we were already working with some of the most disadvantaged in our community, children and youth in foster care. They wanted to provide a a clean and safe place for DHS to conduct visitations between children and their families. A collaboration between Mercy, DHS and The CALL was born, that would allow us to have our office space and The CALL Mall in one location while we would provide upkeep and furnish the house for visits.
We moved in last November and began to schedule visits in January of 2019. So far, we have had over 100 visits! The response we get from the
visiting families is that they are happy to have a space that feels like home. They come in, hang out in the backyard, make a cup of coffee and even cook breakfast while they visit with their children. Some children come to visit with their biological families and they come with their foster family to get diapers or frozen meals from The CALL Mall. This helps the children feel comfortable and secure, in a familiar place.
Our partners at DHS also enjoy the Support Center, Michelle Tenny, PA said,
“Before places like The Call, we were having visits at the DHS office, fast food restaurants, and parks. These places did not allow for quality family time. Parents are more comfortable and prefer The Call. I’ve noticed they are more confident with their parenting skills while in a home setting and have more opportunities for learning parenting skills. I’ve also noticed kids are more comfortable. In short, The Call is a wonderful place and has helped this community enormously. I know that I am extremely grateful for this home and the wonderful ladies that work there.”
The CALL Support Center also provides a way for churches, individuals and businesses to directly impact their community. By volunteering or donating you can directly be a part of what The CALL, Mercy and DHS are doing to help disadvantaged children, youth and families in our community. The work of The CALL is 100% privately funded and largely done through volunteers. If you would like to know more about what we do, I encourage you to attend our 7th Annual Restoring Hope Fundraiser Banquet on October 3rd.
For registration information contact firstname.lastname@example.org