It’s always Mother’s Day at Angels Way Maternity Home.The three-bedroom house on a tree-lined residential street in Canoga Park has been a refuge for close to 250 homeless pregnant adult moms since it opened nearly 30 years ago. The founders, many of them parishioners from Catholic Churches in the West San Fernando Valley, give God “full credit” for the home’s unique beginning and continuing support.Angels Way, notes co-founder Barbara Klinkhammer, was not begun by a group of people recognizing a need who started from scratch to raise funds and support for housing for abandoned pregnant women. Rather, Angels Way began when a couple came to a 1985 board meeting of the Pregnancy Counseling Center in Mission Hills in response to an article in PCC’s newsletter about the need for a local maternity home for homeless single pregnant women over the age of 18. The couple wanted to offer the use of a house they owned for the maternity home.“Strangely enough, these ‘angels’ had no desire to be part of the planning or running of this home,” noted Klinkhammer, a former PCC board member who was asked that night to take on the task of opening the maternity home, although she had no educational background or experience qualifying her for such an undertaking.“All I could think of was how God’s ways are not like ours, and how He used the weak (and in this case very reluctant and frightened) to do great things,” noted Klinkhammer in a recent letter to Angels Way executive director Betty Breneman.“It started as a ministry,” explained Breneman, who was invited by Klinkhammer (now relocated to Ohio) to help out with the monthly Angels Way bake sale fundraiser at St. Mel Church in Woodland Hills nearly 20 years ago. “That’s what drew the initial board members in, because they were surrogate mothers to the women. They would do all the counseling, all the working with the curriculum that we had at the time. That’s what filled them. Over the years, we continue to mother, but our parenting to the women includes a wider scope of things [including handling finances and filling out forms for transitional housing].” Angels Way is an educational program that provides residence. Services offered address spiritual, psychological, educational and physical welfare of the residents, including instruction by volunteers and professionals in nutrition, childbirth, parenting and homemaking skills.Each resident participates in a program of employment, school or volunteer work and household tasks are shared amongst the moms-to-be. “They take turns cooking, cleaning, and shopping with the house manager,” said Breneman. “They live as a family; it’s very much a home feeling.”The house can accommodate up to four residents, as well as a house manager who is on-site from 4 p.m. to 9 a.m. The residents agree to complete an 11-unit educational course on pregnancy and infant care during their stay, and Angels Way provides weekly professional counseling for each woman to help her decide whether to parent her child or place her baby in an adoptive home.Residents pay a $200-a-month program fee and contribute toward food costs. Community donations of baby clothes, cribs and car seats provide essentials for when the new mother departs, about two months after her baby’s birth. Angels Way receives no government funding; its $90,000 annual budget comes from private donations and small grants.“Angels Way is a hidden gem of the Valley,” said Elvia Gutierrez, director/case management. “There’s so many women afraid to seek help. To know that there’s something here close to home for them is so comforting.” She noted that many former residents return every year with their children for the annual October reunion.Elaine Alter, 40, is a frequent reunion attendee along with her teenage son, now a graduating high school senior. “I kind of knew I wasn’t going to have support [during pregnancy] so I needed to do something,” said Alter, who just graduated from nursing school. “I was staying with a friend for a while, then I found out about Angels Way. It was a very lovely experience. I felt at peace and at ease here, and loved by everyone.” Tabitha Marshall, 22, who came to Angels Way when she was seven-and-a-half months pregnant, said her time there gave her an opportunity to reconnect with her family before the birth of her son, Messiah, now seven months.“Being here just allowed me to start rebuilding with my family,” said Marshall. “I just worked on the curriculum and bonding with my family. While I was here, they became really supportive.” She now shares an apartment with her cousin, who watches Messiah during the day while she goes to school to study dental hygiene.“Angels Way just gave me a place to be myself,” said Marshall. “I really felt like I had no place to be just me, like I had to hide parts of who I was. The people really accepted every part of me. Every face I have they accepted and they loved. It’s really helped me grow and mature as a person.”Angels Way Maternity Home, a non-profit organization, welcomes volunteers and donations, which are tax deductible. For more information, call (818) 346-BABY; email [email protected]; or visit {gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/0517/sfangels/{/gallery}