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Los Angeles home for unwed mothers now a family center to address ‘the bigger picture’

LOS ANGELES, CA (The Tidings) - A century ago, when the Ford Motor Company first introduced its classic Model T touring car and before women’s suffrage, St. Anne’s maternity home for unwed pregnant women was founded by Bishop Thomas Conaty in Los Angeles.

FAMILY - Yecica Robles and her son, Carlos, are looking ahead to a brighter future since their stay at St. Anne’s Bogen Family Center. (St. Anne’s Bogen)

FAMILY - Yecica Robles and her son, Carlos, are looking ahead to a brighter future since their stay at St. Anne’s Bogen Family Center. (St. Anne’s Bogen)


From modest beginnings as a small, safe refuge for pregnant young women — most of whom placed their baby up for adoption — St. Anne’s has evolved into a six-acre campus at 155 North Occidental Blvd. in Echo Park serving hundreds of young women, children and their families annually.

St. Anne’s, administered by the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart since 1941, provides residential/transitional housing, mental health and family based services and an education program to hundreds of at-risk young women and children.

Today, all pregnant teenage minors at St. Anne’s are in California’s child welfare system. They have been removed from their homes and placed in the foster care system because of abuse and neglect and may also have been involved with the state probation system.

“It’s a little different than it used to be,” noted Steve Gunther, St. Anne’s chief operating officer. “There was a time when the real focus was on [a girl’s] pregnancy. While that still remains a focus, the reality is that the mental health needs of the girl and the history she brings to us is a big part of the focus, and the pregnancy and the parenting is just a piece of a much bigger picture.”

St. Anne’s residential treatment program, serving approximately 39 pregnant and parenting teenage girls ages 13-18, provides educational and vocational assistance, case management services, mental health services, health services coordination, social and recreational activities and child care services. Mirroring societal trends, the majority of today’s pregnant residents keep their babies. St. Anne’s onsite hospital closed in 1976.

“We have a continuum of programs and services that we can provide,” explained Gunther. “A young lady, for example, could move into our residential services program. She would be enrolled, most likely, in our mental health program. She would have her child enrolled in our child care program. She most likely would be enrolled in family literacy, one of our family-based programs. And she may, potentially, turn 18 and emancipate from that program and move into transitional housing.”

Two-year ‘treasure’

Yecica Robles, 22, was among the first group of mothers and children to move into St. Anne’s Bogen Family Center, which opened in 2005.

Previously a resident of a foster care group home, Robles and her six-year-old son, Carlos, were accepted into The Bogen Family Center’s transitional housing program, which provides up to 24 months of affordable housing and support services for pregnant and parenting young women who have emancipated from the child welfare system.

St. Anne’s operates the largest transitional housing program in Los Angeles County, providing 39 out of 48 “beds” available to foster care emancipated women with children in its Bogen facility. Residents, who are required to work or go to school full-time or do both concurrently, receive counseling and support services aimed at helping them achieve independence after their stay.

“It really did help,” said Robles. “If I didn’t come here, where would I be right now? When I came here, they helped me do everything [such as] fill out resumes, arrange transportation to work and school, and find babysitters for my son.” She currently works as the center’s property manager, allowing her to continue living at Bogen, while taking classes full-time at Los Angeles City College toward her goal of becoming a paralegal.

Robles described her two-year transitional living stay at Bogen like “a little treasure,” allowing her the time to build life and parenting skills. She willingly shares her personal story with others.

“I talk to a lot of residents and try to encourage them,” she says. “I tell them, ‘It’s not easy, but you can do it and you have to do it for your own good and for your child. If I can do it, you can do it.’“

Alumni reunion

As part of activities planned for its centennial year, St. Anne’s staff members and many of its 400 volunteers are organizing a reunion at St. Anne’s July 26 for former residents, children born at the center, and parents who adopted babies from St. Anne’s as well as employees, volunteers or board members who have served over the decades.

Joyce Walter, a member of St. Anne’s Board of Trustees who was born at the Catholic maternity home in 1944 and adopted at one month by a “wonderful” family, is proud of St. Anne’s 100 years of continuous service.

“St. Anne’s has changed along with changing times to accommodate a new generation of girls who make the decision to raise their children. It provides a wonderful service,” said Walter.

A longtime volunteer in the child care center, Walter says she enjoys seeing the young mothers become successful parents. “St. Anne’s holds a big place in my heart,” said Walter.

For information on St. Anne’s alumni reunion or other centennial events, contact St. Anne’s at (213) 381-2931 ext. 274; email stannes@stannes.org or log on to www.stannes.org.

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This story was made available to Catholic Online by permission of The Tidings (www.the-tidings.com), official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

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1 - 10 of 42 Comments

  1. Lucy
    3 months ago

    Male adoptee born 5/11/1969 possibly St Annes given name before adoption Krauss Krause searching for his birth mother. Please don't ever give up searching for him.

  2. Woode Stephens
    4 months ago

    I will leave another post for my sister Cally. She gave birth to a boy 2-21-69.
    chero@ix.netcom.com

  3. Terri Ann Gutierrez
    6 months ago

    Today is my birthday. I just had lunch with my mother. I am 56 years old today. I asked her where I was born. She told me I was born at St. Annes in L.A. and that she was 15 years old when she had me there. I went straight into foster care because she would not sign the adoption papers, but her parents would not let her bring me home. 6 months later I did go to live with her and my 16 year old father. Two years later I went to live with my Grandparents. I am lucky that I do know my mother. I wish all of you who are looking for family members luck.

  4. Phillius
    7 months ago

    Having a home for unwed mothers is a good thing. I can't tell you how many people need places like this. Thanks to you who do this for others.
    http://www.myrnayenter-mankato.com/services.html

  5. mary
    10 months ago

    baby girl costello, born september 7,1959 my mothers maiden name was costello,she was from new york,fathers last name flaherty,not married, returned to east coast shortly after relinquesment,,

  6. Christy Trawick
    10 months ago

    My name is Christy Trawick and I was born at St. Anne's Home for Unwed Mother's on June 15, 1971. My mother's name was Carol Sue Trawick. She was 16 from Banning, CA. My grandparents sent her there for her to give birth and adopt me out. They came to sign the adoption papers and couldn't do it when they saw me. I am looking for my father. His name on my birth certificate is Lawrence Mason. I think I have a cousin named Isaac Meyers. Please contact me with any information.
    christy_trawick@yahoo.com

  7. Robert Teyler
    11 months ago

    My mother, Kathryn Ann Wilkinson, gave birth to two children before I was born. My brother Mike was born Aug 17, 1958, and a girl was born prior to that. I know my brother, but recently learned about my sister. The girl would have been born approx 1955-1957. Is there anything you can do to help me locate my sister? She was born (and maybe Mike) at St. Anne's Home for Unwed Mothers.

  8. Marguerite
    1 year ago

    I Marguerite Teresa Lewis gave birth to my Baby girl named at birth Maria Teresa Galang on October 3, 1970. Fathers name is Ronald Galang. I was 17 years old and my Mother made me give her up. I had to fight to see her after she was born. A Nun went against my Mother and allowed me to see her and even gave me a picture of my baby. My 18 th birthday 3 months later I tried to find my baby. My Mother told the Nuns to tell me she was dead. I have not stopped looking for her since. Years later a social worker let me know she was alive but that's all she could say. I keep her picture with me always. I hope one day I will be able to find her. Ive since Married last name is now Burchett. And I've written letters to her and have given them to the social worker. I have no idea if she will ever get the letters. I love her then and now.

  9. Michael Levine
    1 year ago

    I was born January 15th 1970 at saint Anne's in Los Angeles . My birth patents were from Colorado and I believe 16-17 years of age . My mother was in Los Angeles with her father my father stated in Co.
    My adopted parents were David Levine and Sherry Levine they had one child of 6 years of age.
    I am Caucasian as I believe my birth parents were.
    I am in search of my birth family.
    I also would like to say thank you ! I realize how hard it must have been.
    Michael
    Contact stiles02@gmail.com

  10. Cynthia Davis
    1 year ago

    Pretty amazing as I read all your stories...I was born in that hospital because of my mother was unwed mothers. She was attempt to give me up for adoption...she refused and left with me from the hospital in less than 10 days...I was pretty upset that the hospital DIDN'T care what she inserted my father's information on my birth certificate application...they altered without her permission and consent until she got the legit birth certification. She was so upset..they altered the race from Native American Cherokee to "Negro" but she don't know what "Negro" means in Spanish...and my father's names were altered as well so all other information...That's upsetting me and my mother....I'm 43 now and I don't know if I'm able to get corrected info on my birth certificate...surprisingly, the name of hospital was NOT put down on my birth certificate....is that hospital afraid of something or someone ??? Interesting...she put down, they removed it...*smh* I'm not Catholic neither was my beloved mother...she was sent to that hospital because she was unwed mother and no other hospital accepted her. Davis isn't my real last name...I'm stuck with it because the hospital altered my dad's full legit names to their IDEAL names and race..she's a Caucasian.. =(


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