BRADENTON -- With a lot of faith and determination, SOLVE Maternity Homes opened in Bradenton in 1976.
Helen and Roland Cadoret, members of Saint Joseph's Catholic Church in Bradenton, initially planned to operate a 24-hour hotline for unwed or at-risk expectant women. SOLVE would also operate a donor closet where new mothers could check out equipment needed to help care for babies.
Within the first year, however, someone donated a duplex on Whitfield Avenue and SOLVE became a maternity home as well.
In 1982, SOLVE Maternity Homes found a residence in downtown Bradenton, added a second Bradenton home in 2004 and a home in Englewood in 2008.
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SOLVE recently received donation of a fourth house near Sarasota Memorial Hospital, and hopes to have it operating as a maternity home this year.
SOLVE has always been a free Jesus-centered provider of housing and a
structured program for at-risk pregnant women and their babies. SOLVE serves expectant moms of all ages, ethnic backgrounds, creeds and religions.
Members of Peace Presbyterian Church in East Manatee decided to help SOLVE and set up a crib for diapers and other baby supply donations on Mother's Day.
SOLVE's mission matches Peace Presbyterian's values, said Pastor Elizabeth Deibert.
"When we commit to the goal of being compassionate and involved with people, like Christ was, we accept them, just as they are in their current circumstances, and we hope to show the love of God, which brings hope and peace to this world in need," Deibert said.
Church members delivered about 4,000 diapers Thursday and toured two maternity homes in Bradenton.
"What a service. Thank goodness you are here," Peace Presbyterian elder Nancy Hogue told SOLVE Executive Director Peggy Kerwin after the tour.
Church members came away impressed by the cleanliness and cheerfulness of the maternity home, and the program designed to help young moms handle the challenges of daily life, including raising a baby.
"It takes a heart of gold and nerves of steel," Kerwin said of house moms who look after the expectant mothers.
"A lot of times the girls realize for the first time at SOLVE what a true home is like," Kerwin said.
Next year, SOLVE, 1509 Eighth Ave. W., turns 40. During its history, about 1,150 babies have been born to SOLVE residents. "We like them to come in as early as possible to receive case management and counseling," Kerwin said.
Coming in early also gets the expectant mom into a safe environment, and allows her to learn skills useful the rest of her life, including parenting, how to cook, budget, save and set goals.
Residents are required to attend a church service of their choice each week.
During 2014, SOLVE served 66 resident moms. SOLVE residents may earn a general education diploma, continue high school education, earn technical school certificates and college credits or find employment.
SOLVE is a nondenominational Christian operation assisted by an estimated 100 congregations. Funding comes mainly from SOLVE fundraisers and individual donors.
"We have the freedom to say we can do this better," Kerwin said, noting SOLVE receives no government funding.
Sheri Ketner, community relations coordinator, said SOLVE tries to get "the hope of Christ into these girls lives."
Indeed, that goes back to the founding of SOLVE in 1976.
"Helen Cadoret is a fervent Catholic. She felt God calling her to do something," said Judith Berg Scott, who was so impressed with SOLVE's story she published a book in 2014: "Saving Babies." Information: Go to solvehomes.org/ or call 941-748-0094.
James A. Jones Jr., Herald reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter @jajones1.