Words from Fr. Paul O’Callaghan, Dean of St. George Cathedral in Wichita:
On the Feast of Theophany, January 6, 2002, the Antiochian Orthodox parishes of Wichita, KS, reached an incredible milestone. The first social service agency sponsored by the local Orthodox community opened its doors to the public.
The vision for “The Treehouse” began in the hearts of two faithful Orthodox women. They sought direction and counsel from experienced leaders in the crisis pregnancy and maternal care field. This resulted in consultations with local agencies to identify the greatest areas of need for such women. The concept for The Treehouse solidified around a mission to help moms get off to a good start with their babies and to continue to be a resource as their children grew.
Why call this ministry “The Treehouse?” The Scriptures and Hymns of the Church refer to the Cross of Christ as “the life-giving tree” and celebrate its power over the forces of death and destruction. They also identify the Church as the “House of the Lord,” who invites the poor, the marginalized, and the underprivileged to feast with Him. “And in the middle of the street was a tree of life…and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of nations.” – Rev 22:2
Today, 20 years later, The Treehouse mission remains: To offer mothers and babies a brighter future through sharing God’s love, basic necessities, education, and genuine personal care. The Treehouse guides and empowers new moms by providing positive female role models, online and in-person educational opportunities, and spiritual support. The Treehouse nurtures moms so babies can bloom in a variety of healthy ways.
Newborn Needs/Layette Program: New moms are given a one-time free distribution of much needed supplies after completing a series of four essential infant video courses. The “baby shower in a bag” includes new items such as diapers, formula, onesies, sleepers, baby wipes, baby wash, lotion, socks, bottles, and complete outfits.
On-Site Thrift Store: The Treehouse Thrift Store offers basic supplies for children and contains gently used and new clothing, newborn to size 8 youth. Moms love shopping for affordable clothing while supporting The Treehouse. Revenue from the thrift store is used to purchase diapers, wipes and formula for other moms and babies. Items can be purchased at inexpensive prices or with Baby Bucks acquired through our Earn While You Learn Program.
Educational Opportunities: The Treehouse offers on-site educational programs, Monday through Thursday, from 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM. Free childcare is provided in our playroom during class time for children ages one to five years of age. By attending a one-hour class, moms can earn diapers, formula, or Baby Bucks, to spend in the thrift store. The Treehouse also offers over 150 online learning opportunities through an educational video program called Bright Course. This program allows moms to learn and participate in their parenting education on their own schedule and view videos containing practical information on infant care, toddlers, positive parenting, and a variety of life skills. The Treehouse partners with many local professionals, volunteers, and organizations to bring in evidence-based curriculum and programs.
Meet Rosa, Treehouse Mom: “The Treehouse ladies are here to help you and not to judge you. I never tire of thinking how much they have done for me and my children. I have been part of The Treehouse for five years. They have children’s stuff at a good price and my older son loves to go for the toys! I will never forget the day I did not have formula for my baby, and I stopped by. The ladies told me they were temporarily closed due to the pandemic, but they asked me what they could do for me. With a smile that comforted me, they gave me formula, tears came to my eyes, and I thanked God even more. I don’t know what I would have done without them that day. Thank you and God bless you all.”
The Treehouse continues to operate and nurture moms thanks to generous donations from the Orthodox Church community around the nation, caring individuals and foundations, grant opportunities, community support, along with our amazing staff, Board of Directors, and dedicated volunteers. Please check our new website, Facebook, and Instagram (ict.treehouse) frequently for updates and to stay connected.
Thanks be to God for the faithful Orthodox Christians whose generosity made reaching this incredible milestone possible!