I Had a Dream — and Founded a Maternity Home

COMMENTARY: We have a responsibility for these beautiful souls, to help them and their families live the healthiest, happiest lives possible.

Claire Pizzuti, co-founder of the St. Clare's home in Greenville, South Carolina alongside her mother at the center's ribbon ceremony.
Claire Pizzuti, co-founder of the St. Clare's home in Greenville, South Carolina alongside her mother at the center's ribbon ceremony. (photo: Courtesy photo / Kylee Heap)

When I was in fifth grade, I experienced a deeply traumatic dream that forever changed my life. 

It involved me walking down to my parents' basement and discovering abortions being performed amid the sorrowful cries of post-abortive   mothers. 

Even at that age I recognized that the dream was a call to protect women and children from the pain of abortion, and it served as a powerful reminder that people right in my own community were suffering and in dire need of help.

 Little did I know that one day I would start a maternity home to meet this need. Thankfully, I am blessed with an incredible mother who, in addition to caring for my nine other siblings, believed in my call and helped me plan a “Walk for Life.” The walk ultimately raised $7,000 for the local pregnancy center and continued annually for the next seven years. 

That was just the beginning. 

When I was in 12th grade, I had another dream involving a maternity home that I knew I was called to build. 

Once again, my mom stepped in to help, as we drafted business plans, formed a group, and began raising the necessary funds for such an enormous project. It became abundantly clear throughout the process that God was guiding us and would move mountains to make my dream a reality. For example, a friend of ours had also been dreaming of working with women in need but was unsure of how to achieve this goal. While praying outside an abortion facility one day, she was approached by an anonymous individual who gave her $30,000 to start a maternity home in South Carolina. This donation encouraged our efforts, and soon we were presenting our plan to the bishop, with the full support of the appropriate diocesan offices, who offered to make it a Catholic, diocesan-run endeavor: the first of its kind in the Palmetto State.  

The next few years were difficult enough to tempt us into discouragement. It was around this time, however, that I had a third dream, in which I saw a large group of people in the sky. I knew they were the people helped by my maternity home, which offered mothers alternatives to unwanted abortions.    This powerful image sustained me through the final stages of our difficult journey as God continued to provide. A friend of ours somehow found a beautiful home on a 15-acre property in Greenville, South Carolina, which we transformed into a maternity home. We also created a pregnancy-resource center to serve any women who were unable to live in the maternity home. 

We named the home “St. Clare’s Home” after St. Clare of Assisi because we knew she would serve as an incredible role model for the moms in our care.  We admired her courage in twice defending Assisi from hostile attackers and hoped that through her intercession we would remain strong amid the heavy attacks facing those who fight for a culture of life. 

With this in mind, we chose the feastday of St. Clare as our opening day, Aug. 11, 2021; that feast day, we opened our doors and began welcoming women  facing a crisis while pregnant. 

Since opening, St. Clare’s has served more than 200 women through our outreach centers in Greenville and Rock Hill, with a wide variety of physical, emotional, educational and medical resources. 

Additionally, our maternity home has eight bedrooms where expecting moms can stay throughout their pregnancies and up to one year after the birth of their babies. So far, we’ve been blessed to serve  26 moms, in addition to 25 children, 13 of whom were  born in the home. St. Clare’s sponsors, board members and supporters all share a common vision that we need to do more than just help mothers to choose life. 

My dream of the people our home had saved in the sky reminded me that we have a responsibility for these beautiful souls, to help them and their families live the healthiest, happiest lives possible.    

I can’t think of better women to ensure this reality than Sister Theresa and Sister Stella Mary, two Nigerian sisters from the order of St. Michael the Archangel, who lovingly care for the moms and babies of St. Clare’s. These   courageous, humble women work daily with our other incredible staff   members to serve our residents with the resources, love and support they need to flourish.  

All moms in our care are required to either keep a job or work on completing their educational goals. We also keep them busy with class options that range from basic domestic skills like cooking, cleaning, sewing and parenting to life skills like interviewing prep and CPR and first-aid classes, among others. We try to minimize the financial burden by helping our working moms find and pay for daycare and helping with childcare. We also help with transportation and other assistance they may need to attend important appointments. 

Most importantly, we love all the moms at St. Clare’s as if they were our own family and have nightly “family dinners,” in addition to community events. 

Many of the moms in our care come from difficult, traumatic backgrounds and have never experienced such family love. 

It is beautiful to see the way the familial atmosphere transforms and softens their hearts and encourages so many of them to give back by serving those who come after them. Their success gives me hope for the future and has inspired my new dream of building more maternity homes across the state, especially in Charleston. I have faith that this will become a reality and that we can continue loving and serving women in need. 

After all, St. Clare’s Home itself is a testimony to women who dream.   

Claire Pizzuti is the co-founder of St. Clare’s Home in Greenville, South Carolina.