Monday, July 21, 2003

Monroe pregnant teen home opens



By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MONROE - After a half-decade wait that included zoning and court battles, a home for pregnant teenagers is now open on the grounds of the Solid Rock Church.

The $1 million Darlene Bishop Home for Life Inc. facility recently opened and three pregnant teenagers have already moved into the newly constructed, two-story home on the campus of the 4,000-member church in Monroe, which is visible from Interstate 75.

"Everything is going smoothly," said Beth Ward, director of the home that will eventually house 30 expectant teens in the 16,000-square-foot, apartment-like living quarters.

The girls will participate in classes that include parenting, life skills, financial practices and home schooling. Some of girls are expected to be recommended from county agencies and others will be private individuals who applied to live at the home during their pregnancies, said Ward, the former executive director of the Middletown Area Community Pregnancy Center.

When church officials first proposed the home in 1998 in the then industrially zoned area, it set off a series of zoning battles with city officials. A lawsuit ensued and was finally decided by a state appeals court in 2002 in favor of the church. City officials had no complaints about the nature of the home, but about whether it was in an appropriately zoned area.

Church officials said that despite those obstacles, their passion for the project never waned.

"We must provide tangible alternatives that will truly impact the girls' lives, thus saving the lives of their babies," said Darlene Bishop, president and founder of the home. The home will facilitate adoptions, in coordination with local government agencies, if the mothers choose not to keep their babies.

"As a Christian it is my responsibility to help those in need," said Bishop, wife of Solid Rock Pastor Lawrence Bishop. Together they minister in the nondenominational church that draws thousands from around Tristate.

Ward said the home's mission is "to minister to the needs of pregnant teens, so each girl can make the best decision for themselves and their baby, become self-reliant and socially productive."

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For more information, call (513) 423-5433 or visit (www.dbhl.org) .

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E-mail mclark@enquirer.com




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