Proceedings and Debates of The 105th Congress, First Session
Tuesday, October 28, 1997
House of Representatives
Honoring Kathy DiFiore
Hon. Marge Roukema
Of New Jersey
In The House of Representatives
"Mr. Speaker, I rise today to thank Kathy DiFiore, of Ramsey, New Jersey, for the work she is doing on behalf of unwed mothers. Kathy is a dedicated and compassionate leader who lends support to young women at a trying period in their lives. Her work is well known across our state and has been supported by figures as prominent as former Gov. Tom Kean and the late Mother Teresa. We need more people like Kathy DiFiore to help with the issue of teenpregnancy.
More than a decade ago, Kathy opened a shelter for unwed mothers in her own, six - bedroom home. Today, she operates Several Sources Shelters, which has five homes for unwed mothers - two in Ramsey plus one each in Mendham, Newark and Washington Township. Kathy, a former Wall Street executive, has given thousand of women the moral and tangible support needed to bring their children into the world.
Even an effort as admirable as a shelter for unwed mothers does not succeed without overcoming obstacles. In 1984, state officials levied a $10,000 fine against Kathy, claming that her home - at that point a shelter - was being operated as an illegal boardinghouse. Similarly, Ramsey officials said it was unlikely she could be granted a zoning variance necessary to continue operating. The shelter's future was uncertain. Undaunted, Kathy convinced the state Legislature to pass a bill allowing her to remain in operation, Then - Governor Kean, however, was hesitant to sign the measure.
It was at that point that Kathy contacted Mother Teresa and asked her help. Mother Teresa responded and, in turn, contacted Governor Kean and urged him to sign the law.
The Several Sources Foundation provides extensive counseling and information for pregnant women seeking an alternative to abortion and ultimately provides free shelter for expectant mothers and their children. The Foundation has found that many young women, particularly teenagers, have no place to stay while pregnant. It is, tragically, not uncommon for angry parents to "kick out" their daughters upon learning that they are pregnant. The Shelters allow mothers to stay during pregnancy and up to one year after the birth of a child. Each of the five shelters can house up to six mothers and their infants, supervised by an adult housemother.
Women who stay at the shelters are trained in the practical aspects of motherhood, including pre-natal care and homemaking. School-age mothers attend high school and are tutored at the shelter during the last weeks of pregnancy. Women who have dropped out of school are assisted in passing their GED and are given classes in practical, employment-related skills such as typing. Some go on to college.
Several Sources is a pro-life organization that offers a national telephone hotline for pregnant women. More than 200 women call the hotline each month and Kathy estimates that 15,000 abortions have been avoided since she founded the organization. The group also offers information through a World Wide Web site on the Internet.
None of this could be done without help, of course. Kathy is assisted by a number of caring and dedicated volunteers, such as Donna Jacoby of Ridgewood. Others help the non-profit, non-sectarian organization through tax-deductible private donations and offerings at area churches.
Mr. Speaker, Kathy DiFiore is a deeply religious woman who has followed through on her Christian convictions. She communicated frequently with Mother Teresa, who served as her religious role model. She likes to say that it's necessary to "pray the work." Her efforts might be described as "working the prayer."
We need more people of deep conviction and conscience who do more than preach their morality and practice Christian charity in its truest form. Kathy DiFiore has transformed her convictions into action to help these women and children who are in greatest need, not only in daily care but also in educating and inspiring them to improve their lives and provide a promising, hopeful future for their newborn babies.
We all wish her renewed strength and inspiration so that many more might find life through her dedicated and devoted ministry."