Tributes to Several Sources Shelters
My White House Visit With President Ronald Reagan on January 22, 1988
By Kathy DiFiore
During President Ronald Reagan's second term as President of the United States, I was honored to be asked to the White House to meet him. I had been sheltering unwed mothers and their children in my own home for seven years.
Thankfully the visit was video taped and we were able to obtain a copy from the Ronald Reagan Library. On this, the occasion of President Reagan's 90th Birthday and the celebration of our 20th Anniversary, I want to share with all of you what happened during this blessed visit.
Words fail to describe the feelings of patriotism I experienced, as we were guided through parts of the White House seldom seen by visitors. I remember a set of back stairs that were quite old and narrow. To think Abraham Lincoln often used those very stairs upon which we were traveling!
I was one of 13 guests that day. Gary Bauer introduced us individually. President Reagan shook hands with each of us as our individual photos were taken with him. We were in the Oval Office and a group shot was to be taken. As the President moved to the center of our group, he joked, "Nice to see you and have you here. I think I'm suppose to go over there some place around the middle. When I first got to Hollywood, a very big star named Fredric March and I would get into photographs. He would also go way over there on the left side. I finally, as a beginner, asked, "Why, when everyone is trying to get in the middle, are you always rushing to the left hand side?" He said, "No one reads the entire caption but they always begin reading from left to right.'"
We all laughed and the meeting then turned more serious as President Reagan continued.
"I am so appreciative of what you all are doing. I don't know whether you heard my telephone call this morning. We've been trying to get the Hyde Amendment passed and when we start talking about Constitutional Amendments it recently struck me that actually if we really could get them to interpret things correctly, its already in the Constitution because these children are already human beings are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
"I mentioned in my phone call this morning how 24 prestigious doctors in this country commented, after listening to comments I had made, that I was on very solid ground. These babies are human beings."
We had been asked not to speak but I was moved to say to President Reagan, "You are doing what our Founding Fathers did. You are bringing us back to God's values. That is what you are doing and we thank you for that." Each of the other 12 visitors added their words of thanks.
President Reagan seemed so very humble, almost embarrassed and said, "Can we change the subject for a minute? I just can't resist knowing how you feel about knowing about such things. I received a letter from a widow whose husband was killed in World War II and whose son is now in the military. She had this and sent it to me. You don't mind if I read it to you. This is the translation of a prayer found on a young Russian soldier, killed in action in 1944 whose name was Alexandr Zasipa.
'Hear me, Oh God. Never in my whole lifetime have I spoken to You but just now I feel like sending You my greetings. You know from my childhood on they always told me that you are not. I, like a fool, believed them. I've never contemplated Your creation and yet tonight gazing up out of my shell hole, I marvel at the shimmering stars above me and suddenly knew the cruelty of the lie.
Will You my God reach Your Hand out to me? I wonder. But I will tell You and You will understand. Is it not strange that the Light should come upon me and I see You amid this night of Hell and there is nothing else that I have to say. This though, I am glad that I have learned to know you. At midnight we are scheduled to attack. But You are looking on and I am not afraid.
The signal... well, I guess I must be going. I have been happy with You. This more I would like to say. As you well know the fighting will be cruel and even tonight I may come knocking at your door. Although I have not been a friend to You before, still will you let me enter even now and I do come? Why am I crying, oh my God, my Lord? You see what happens to me. Tonight my eyes were opened. Farewell, my God. I'm going and I am not likely to come back. Strange is it not, but death I fear no longer.' "
Then President Reagan commented, "I wish I had that for Mr. Gorbachev when he was here. I thank you all of you and continue to fight the good fight. God bless all of you and thank you all!"
Governor Chris Christie
In September 2010, N.J. Governor Christie met Kathy DiFiore at the Cantor-Fitzgerald Charity Day in New York City to commemorate the loss of their victims in the 9-11 tragedy. Governor Christie was impressed with her work and asked his assistant to set up a visit to the Several Sources Shelter in Ramsey, NJ.
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."