Community Stories

University Pickers: How Crafting Helps Single, Pregnant Women

3:05 a.m.—Sarah calls to Stacy Bundren from her room in the Re-Centered Life House, a home where young, single, pregnant women stay while they prepare for their babies’ arrival. A few hours earlier, the very pregnant Sarah came home from work complaining she didn’t feel well.

When Sarah called out, Stacy, Re-Centered Life House’s house manager, rushed down two flights of stairs to find Sarah having regular contractions. The baby was coming fast, but Sarah still insisted on straightening her hair before she left—for the photos they’d be taking after the baby’s birth. Since it’s never a good idea to argue with a pregnant woman in labor, Stacy waited while she primped. Then they jumped in Stacy’s car and headed to the hospital.

Two hours later, Stacy watched as Sarah gave birth to a healthy baby.

That’s the goal of Re-Centered’s Life House. Young, pregnant women in crisis situations—abusive relationships, homelessness and poverty to name a few—can come to the house and live room and board free until the baby is born. During their stay, the women get counseling and job training, learn life skills like keeping a checking account, and learn to make crafts to sell at University Pickers.

Stacy is even a former extreme coupon-er who teaches the women how to get by on a small salary.

Josh Walter and his wife, Briana, started Re-Centered in 2013 as a nonprofit designed to mentor men in alternative sentencing programs—men convicted of a non-violent crime but whom judges think could change with the right teachers—but they soon branched out, working with young women once they realized how few options Huntsville women had when crisis hit.

“It was a matter of reaching out these ladies, and we have nowhere to send them,” Josh said. “So we said, ‘Why not make something for them?’ ”

They opened the Life House in 2015 and have since walked with 10 women through their pregnancies.

“Our desire is to provide hope to the hopeless, assistance to those in need, encouragement to those who are discouraged, and leadership training for those who have been through a crisis situation and now are wanting to give back and be able to serve others,” Josh said. “When you begin to help others, you find that your problems aren’t so big anymore.”

A Lifetime of Training

Stacy came on as the house manager in August 2016. She handles everything inside the home in central Huntsville, working as a stand-in mom, therapist and life coach. It’s a job she’s been training for all her life—she just didn’t know it at the time.

When a woman at her church told her about the opening for housemother at Re-Centered, she wasn’t sure this was really her calling. Before Life House, all of her ministry efforts centered on helping boys—she raised three of them.

“I’ve always just worked with boys,” Stacy said. “I’ve never thought about women at all…I don’t know how to minister to women. But then, I’m thinking back on my life and all the things I’ve walked through—it’s perfect.”

Stacy was abused as a child and later as an adult. She’s been married several times. She’s been homeless. She’s had a miscarriage. She has three grown sons and has been a single parent most of her life.

She runs the house like a home—they have daily family time where women from varied pasts can come together to see how a functional family works.

“It’s really funny because the girls that have been here—that’s their favorite time,” Stacy said. “We’ll play a game or we’ll make dinner together, make our own pasta and things like that…A lot of times they don’t know what a healthy family looks like. A lot of times they’ve come from abusive situations or situations where there is a lot of yelling, maybe dysfunctional.”

Stacy’s sons even stop by the house every now and then—it’s a good way for the women to see how people with healthy relationships relate to each other.

Vinyl, Sewing, Reclaimed Wood and Scrapbook Paper

While the majority of their financial support comes from donors, the women work to supplement their income by making crafts. There’s a craft room in the bottom of the house—one that would make any Pinterest-addict swoon—set up with a vinyl cutter, sewing machine and all the supplies they could need to make sellable products.

The ever-crafty Stacy steps in to teach them how to use the different machines and how to make products that will fly off University Pickers’ shelves. Right now, they focus on wood crafts, vinyl and sewing, but if a woman comes to Stacy wanting to learn something new, she jumps in to teach her. Stacy taught one woman to crochet after she mentioned she wanted to make baby hats for her child.

Making crafts is only part of it. One of Josh’s friends has a booth at University Pickers and told the owners about the Life House. They jumped into action, hosting fundraisers and helping to furnish the house.

“University Pickers has been one of our biggest supporters since we started back in 2013,” Josh said. “I can truly say that we would not be here if it wasn’t for the support of University Pickers.”

As part of their dedication to helping the Life House, University Pickers is hosting a Pickers Market on May 6 with a portion of the proceeds going to Re-Centered. University Pickers is still looking for vendors for the event. Booths are $50 for the Pickers Market.

Find out more on their Facebook page.

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