Writer / Johnette Cruz
Photographer / Chris Williams
Imagine driving down the road, feeling God speaking directly to you — and not just a “feeling” but a clear direction of where His plans are for you. Rita Norwood experienced this in February 2000. As she drove to work praying, she distinctively heard the Lord tell her, “No radio; we will just ride together in quiet.”
Ten days later, Rita heard that voice again. This time, He said, “We are going to have a home for young pregnant girls. They will choose life. It will be called Angelcare.” At that moment, she felt a soft breeze run across her face with no air or windows opened.
She knew what she had to do but did not move as quickly as God wanted her to. Soon after, she heard the same message again and decided to share the information with her husband, pastor, family and friends. Rita began to pray about this new venture.
Eight years later, she resigned from her job and began to research this type of housing. In 2009, Rita began to explore homes in several different states and also educated herself with teachers, social workers and ministry teams.
“There was a larger need in our community, and it kept increasing,” said Rita. About one year later, Angelcare became an established, faith-based nonprofit organization, managed by an advisory board and board of directors.
ANGELCARE IS BORN
The mission of Angelcare is to help young girls facing a crisis pregnancy. Angelcare will offer these girls a safe home free of charge and will support them as they attend high school and focus on their future, all while showing them the love and compassion of Christ.
“This is meant to be a safe haven for a mother and her baby,” explained Rita. “This place will be a refuge where these young ladies can get an education, help with employment, financial classes, mentorship, create new friendships and heal emotionally, spiritually and mentally. Our ultimate goal is to save the mother and her baby. She may choose to parent or place the baby for adoption.”
Rita also went into some of the rules and qualifications these young women will have to adhere to in order to stay in the home. “While living in our home, the young ladies will attend high school or work on their GED. They will receive life/vocational skills training, mentoring and counseling and will also volunteer within the community.”
The minimum age that Angelcare accepts is as young as 15 with no history of drugs, alcohol or smoking. Everyone will be required to take a medical physical with blood work, do an interview and complete paperwork for the state and their attorney.
FUTURE OF ANGELCARE
Currently Angelcare is in the process of building this home in Trafalgar with the help and support of hundreds of donors and volunteers. They are blessed to have 100 volunteers from all walks of life to assist with the planning and preparation of the house-build and with ongoing fundraising efforts.
The future of Angelcare is filled with needs in many areas. The nonprofit will be in search of two housemothers, a social worker, office assistance, birth coaches and monthly financial support along with many other positions.
One thing is clear: Rita has such a passion for this cause, and she wants to be able to communicate it with others. “I would love to talk with other organizations that are like us. It would be an honor to share with them how we are doing this house and how we, by the grace of God, are changing lives.”
The completion of the house is expected to be in late 2016. Rita is praying that she will be here to see the fruits of her labor. In a phone conversation I had with her recently, she revealed this to me, “I have cancer,” in a calm yet stern voice.
“God has walked with me through this journey, so this isn’t anything new. I am praying that He will give me the chance to see this house completed, to see these girls move in with the expectancy of hope and love. This is not only my dream but the dream of over 450 people who have supported this organization. Only God could have done this. We thank Him and look forward to working with these young lives.”
For more information on how you can contribute to the dream of Angelcare, visit angelcare-inc.org.