Alone, pregnant and lost, Christina Majeski returned home to Berlin and discovered compassion, resources and a support network at The Grace Center
Story by Olivia Minzola | Photo by Grant L. Gursky
When Christina Majeski learned she was pregnant at the age of 20, she had very few people to turn to. Only later in her pregnancy would she come to discover the Grace Center for Maternal and Women’s Health, a nonprofit organization that serves as a safe haven for young, expecting mothers who seek knowledge, love and support.
Majeski was living in California during the first few weeks of her pregnancy, but as she grappled with the realities of her new news, she decided to return home, to Berlin, where her mother and aunt were waiting.
After arriving in Maryland, Majeski began to seek out parenting resource centers in the surrounding area. She quickly came across the Grace Center for Maternal and Women’s Health. Located in Berlin, the Grace Center offers a variety of programs and services, free of charge, to young parents. Majeski familiarized herself with several of them, including ultrasound examinations, post-partum home visits, General Educational Development (GED) testing, workforce training, the Learning, Empowering, Affirming, and Progressing (L.E.A.P.) program and Gracie’s Baby Boutique.
The L.E.A.P. program, in particular, aims to help individuals improve their parenting skills through a series of classes. Clients earn “points” by attending classes and other services, including appointments, counseling sessions and support groups. The points can then be used to “purchase” baby items at Gracie’s Baby Boutique.
“I don’t have any younger siblings; I had never taken care of a baby before I had gotten pregnant. I was completely lost,” said Majeski. “I ended up taking the Grace Center’s parenting classes, and they taught me everything from bathing and changing diapers to potty-training and good discipline. I had zero experience with these kinds of things, so it was very helpful.”
Majeski was then able to use any points she’d earned to acquire a large assortment
of items, such as bottles, books, bibs, clothes, hand-knit blankets, a Pack ’n’ Play and even a brand-new car seat.
“At the time, I was just building my life,” said Majeski. “I was 20 when I was pregnant and had my son when I was 21. I didn’t have anything yet, so it was very helpful.”
Not only has the Grace Center helped Majeski overcome countless obstacles throughout her pregnancy, its staff also assisted her with her education and finding furniture for her home.
In addition, the mother of one shared how, over the years, she has spoken to the women about many different aspects of her life and not once did she ever feel neglected or judged at the Grace Center.
Jasmine Dennis, executive director of the Grace Center, is a staff member who especially cherishes her relationships with her clients.
“One of the things that I think sets us apart from other organizations is that our clients aren’t numbers,” said Dennis. “I have so many girls who call me after hours and just say, ‘Hey, can you just talk this through with me.’ I love that we’re an open door and a safe space as opposed to a client coming in for an appointment and then it’s time for them to go. I want to make sure everyone knows that when they come through our door, they’re going to be family.”
From the very beginning, the staff have valued their relationship with Majeski. Many women keep in touch with her and her 3-year-old son, Benjamin, to this day.
“They always call and check up on me. Every Christmas, they call me and ask me what size my son is, what toys he’s into, and they give him gifts,” said Majeski. “They’ve always been super sweet. The very first time I went there, they opened the door and gave me a hug. They were so welcoming. I had never really experienced that from people in my life. They’re good people.”
When it came to her first pregnancy, Majeski, naturally, was scared. It brought forth a lot of questions and a roller coaster of emotions. Yet today, Majeski, who is pregnant with her second child (another boy, due in May), feels nothing but immense joy. Thanks to the Grace Center, she is excited, hopeful and more than prepared.