Aunt Mary's House To Reveal Location At Gala Fundraiser
Published: December 8th, 2022
By: Sarah Genter

Aunt Mary's House to reveal location at gala fundraiser Aunt Mary's House Board of Directors in front of a banner advertising the Gala fundraiser to be held at the Wild Owl Bistro from 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, December 10. Pictured is Board Member and Norwich Housing Authority Executive Director Tamara Cobb, Vice President and The Place Executive Director Sharon Vesely, Executive Director Brenda White, Wild Owl employee Gabe Warren, President and INN Co-Founder Jen Westervelt, and Treasurer and Bartle's Pharmacy Manager Patricia Pollock. Not pictured is Aunt Mary's House Secretary and Liberty Resources Executive Director Theresa Davis. (Submitted photo)

NORWICH — Aunt Mary's House (AMH), a Chenango County organization aiming to provide emergency and transitional housing to pregnant and parenting mothers, has secured a location and will be revealing it at their first fundraising event. The Aunt Mary's House Gala will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, December 10 at the Wild Owl Bistro, located at 28 South Broad Street in Norwich.

Attendance is $15 per person, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit Aunt Mary's House. Guests can enjoy complimentary hors d'oeuvres, live music by local musician Grady Thompson, a 50/50 raffle, and a basket raffle and silent auction full of items donated by local businesses.

There will be presentations each hour as well, at 6:20, 7:20, and 8:20 p.m., to share more information about AMH's mission and vision.

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"We want to equip these women, not enable them," said Aunt Mary's House President Jen Westervelt. "This program is deeply connected to accountability, personal drive. I mean, it is free to live in the home, but this isn’t just come, take, take, take. This is come, learn, give. It’s a reciprocal process."

"We’ll teach them how to utilize the resources in our community to become accountable and stable so that they can go out and have a good future. But they have to be accountable and they have to be actionable. They will have to play a part in this and walk with us side by side," added Aunt Mary's House Executive Director Brenda White.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to meet the Board of Directors, which includes President and INN Co-Founder Jen Westervelt, Vice President and Executive Director of The Place Sharon Vesely, Secretary and Liberty Resources Executive Director Theresa Davis, Treasurer and Bartle’s Pharmacy Manager Patricia Pollock, and Board Member and Norwich Housing Authority Executive Director Tamara Cobb.

During the gala, the board will be revealing the location of Aunt Mary's House, which will serve as a home for the moms taken in to the program.

"Now that we have a location, it’s perfect. It couldn't be better. The people who are involved, and the purpose, and the location itself, we couldn’t have handpicked a better match. So from my perspective God had his hand on it the whole time anyway," said Westervelt. "This is another situation where we can take a dilapidated property and transform it for our community, and so here we’re going to have a real life, tangible example of transformation that, just as the women are going to come and have their lives transformed, they’re living in a home that has had its life transformed."

The money raised from the gala will support the purchase of supplies needed to get it up and running, and the ongoing operation of the program. White said they anticipate the project to be completed sometime in 2023.

Visitors of the Wild Owl may have already noticed fundraising efforts underway. Through the month of December, tent cards will be placed on the tables with a scannable QR code to donate to Aunt Mary's House. The code has also been added to the bottom of receipts.

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Additionally, donation trees have been set up on the bar. Those who wish to contribute can fill the tree with gift cards to local businesses, to be used by AMH to purchase construction and renovation items, and supplies for the mothers and babies utilizing the program.

"[The house] is going to be in need of major renovation. So there will be opportunities to specialize the home: decor and paint, all those kinds of things," said Westervelt. "The expectation is that these women become embedded in our community, and some of these connections with businesses may lead to employment opportunities. We’re preparing these women for the workforce, for school as well depending on where they're at with their education. So those community connections are just so beneficial for so many reasons."

Aunt Mary's House will support pregnant and parenting mothers over the age of 18 in Chenango County by providing emergency and transitional housing, employment and education assistance, connection to community resources, as well as teaching them life skills such as cleaning, cooking, financial literacy, caring for their babies, and more.

"It’s some of the most basic things that we want to make sure these women are taught, because they may not know. We don’t know what they’ll know coming in, or what they’ve been through," said White. "We want to give them that hand up to change their future, so that when they are done with our program they feel accomplished and they’ve achieved their goals, and they’re proud of what they’ve done. Because they may not have had anyone tell them that, so we will."

Women staying at Aunt Mary's House will be responsible for the upkeep of the home, including cleaning, grocery shopping, and cooking for themselves. A case manager and house monitors will be on staff each day as well, to support them and connect them with resources in the community they may need.

"So the case manager will be there all day every day to work with the women to get them settled in, to go through the resources with them, to look at what their past has been and what we need to do for their future," said White. "If they’ve had trouble with substance abuse or mental health issues, then we’re going to know that from the application process and we’re going to be able to help them continue getting the help they need with the resources in the community."

Westervelt and White said the hope is to facilitate an encouraging and empowering environment that will help the women recognize their potential, and equip them with the tools to be self-sufficient in the community.

"We know time and time again, so often the reason people are able to break out of cycles is because they have support systems and they feel like they’re not alone, and that’s a huge part of what's going on here," said Westervelt. "As people feel compelled to support this cause, we want them to know this is going to be a high-quality program in our community. You are literally changing lives when you donate to Aunt Mary’s House."

"By giving them that hand up and letting them know that someone cares, and someone thinks they can do better, that’s empowering them enough to say, ‘I can do this. Someone believes in me,'" said White. "Then they’re going to be able to make that change and go out and be self-sufficient and independent, and take over their life and make it anything they want it to be. The sky’s the limit."

For more information on Aunt Mary's House, or to donate, visit and