Moms and Children Find Hope at the Well

The building at 6339 N. Fairfield Avenue in Chicago has long been a center of service and dedication.

In 1925 it served as the convent for the Sisters of St. Benedict who taught at St. Timothy’s Catholic School. When the Sisters moved out, the building became a haven for refugees served by the Jewish Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago.

Today that building is the culmination of a dream Mary Zeien has had for decades.

Hope for Moms and Their Babies

The former convent is now a home for unwed mothers and their children. And it is truly a home, not just a safe haven or a shelter. The women are a big family.

Twelve young women and seventeen children call The Well of Mercy their home. They share in the usual tasks of a family—cooking, cleaning, child care, shopping. And last Thursday evening they invited us to dinner.

Samantha, who aspires to open her own restaurant one day, prepared a gourmet meal and the other young women served. After dinner each woman shared her own story of why she came to Well of Mercy and how the home is nurturing her.

Each woman is required to have a job and be pursuing a career path—getting her GED, vocational training, or college—and they are allowed to stay up to five years. Most of them have very young children: we met a two week old, a ten month old, a thirteen year old. One young lady was at her due date and awaiting her first baby. One had chosen to place her baby for adoption.

The “dreamer,” Mary Zeien, has poured all of her own resources into The Well of Mercy and is counting on the generosity of those who learn about this wonderful program. It is so heartwarming to discover people like Mary who selflessly dedicate their lives to making others’ lives better.

Those of us who were guests at the Thursday dinner left with a plate full of cookies and a full heart.

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