Capen feels especially called to this mission because she suffered an abortion while in college.
“I was away from my faith at the time, and I bought into the whole narrative out there that a child will ‘ruin your life’ or that you can’t achieve your goals,” Capen said. “What MiraVia provides is the answer to that. Once people see it, it alleviates so many of those fears and misperceptions.”
Since opening, the MiraVia maternity home has given more than 60 pregnant and parenting students a refuge, helping them choose life and provide for their children in a safe and loving environment.
The land the home is on was originally donated by the Benedictine monks who founded Belmont Abbey College. Today, MiraVia continues to work closely with Belmont Abbey.
According to Capen, students regularly volunteer to help with the cleaning, gardening, and at the donation center.
At times, entire Belmont Abbey sports teams have come to help with tasks such as re-mulching the grounds.
Capen recalled one semester in which a Belmont Abbey professor even assigned volunteering at MiraVia as a homework assignment. Belmont Abbey students also serve as staff in child care and in the kitchen.
A 10,000-square-foot facility, MiraVia can accommodate 15 mothers and their babies at a time. Each mother and her children receive three meals a day and a private suite to live in.
But rather than just giving a handout, MiraVia is dedicated to helping mothers and children achieve long-term success. With this goal in mind, the home provides free child care to allow mothers to attend classes or work.
During their stay, which can last the duration of their pregnancy and until two years after their baby is born, MiraVia provides mothers with regular counseling, helping them establish and follow through on short- and long-term goals.
All the mothers at MiraVia are university-level students, with 20% being enrolled at Belmont Abbey College and 80% at various other colleges in the region.
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“We are targeting a demographic that hardly anyone else is,” Capen explained.
According to Capen, though there are several maternity homes in the Charlotte area, MiraVia is the only one specifically devoted to helping pregnant and parenting college students and serving their particular needs.
As a Catholic charity, MiraVia seeks to serve these college mothers both physically and spiritually. The home has a permanent 24/7 eucharistic chapel available to the women and staff and offers regular Mass, confession, and spiritual guidance.
Though Capen says the staff is respectful of other faiths, they “encourage all our moms to have a spiritual life.”
To better serve mothers’ and children’s material needs, MiraVia even expanded to open an outreach center in downtown Charlotte, which has helped even more women with pregnancy and baby materials such as cribs, car seats, strollers, and diapers as well as life-skills classes and more.
Women who go to the outreach center can join peer support groups and participate in monthly classes designed to help them prepare for raising a child.