Gabriel Network: How do you feel about serving on the board?
Stephanie Padgham: I enjoy being on the board. I help the board envision the main promise of Gabriel Network: our Angel Friends program. Angel Friends make us stand out from any other ministry. I see how the Angel Friends ministry works in tandem with the housing ministry and other activities. It is how we change lives. When you have true friendship with someone, that is when change happens. It is because you feel loved: when you know you are loved, then you feel safe enough to try changing your life. So we serve these moms not as an authority over them but as a friend with them. It is how we share Christ, so that these mothers see Christ in real life.
GN: How did you join Gabriel Network?
SP: Probably in 2000, just after I came into the Catholic Church. I quickly became involved in pro-Life ministry. I attended St. Augustine Church in Washington, DC. There, I volunteered as a parish coordinator for Gabriel Network. We assisted the mothers in our community. In just a few months, we had partnered volunteers with 17 different moms and 18 or 19 newborn babies—one or two mothers were carrying twins. I helped Gabriel Network by getting our name in the church bulletin, organizing “volunteer nights,” inviting Jim Sharbaugh [a Gabriel Network founder] to visit, mounting Gabriel Network signage, etc.
GN: How did you go from being a parish coordinator to serving on the Board of Directors?
SP: I was a parish coordinator for two years, then I stopped after I had my own daughter. However, I also couldn’t find daycare. There were wait lists all over DC. So I had to resign from my job. But Paul Mulligan, the Gabriel Network executive director at the time, invited me to join the Gabriel Network staff, instead. I moved my family to Bowie, MD, and helped. I served on the full-time staff for about a year. Then, I stayed on as an after-hours coordinator managing the Help Line, 1-800 ANGEL OK. For a couple years, I answered late-night phone calls, coordinated and delivered material assistance, and so on. Finally, in 2013, Jim Sharbaugh approached me about becoming a board member. So, having volunteered and staffed each of the programs—Angel Friends, Maternity Homes, and the Help Line—I have seen all the views of Gabriel Network.
GN: What would you say to people who aren’t yet involved?
SP: Consider helping a mother out. Consider trying to provide for and help out a child. What we all need is a helping hand. We’ve all had situations that could have gone very bad for us. Contribute to Gabriel Network so you can be Christ to somebody else. Remember that nobody wants abortion. They choose it because they feel they have no other choice. You can give them another choice.
GN: Why do you care about pro-Life issues in the first place?
SP: I’m the type of person who, if I am going to do something, I am going to go 100 percent—all the way. So, when I became a Catholic, I was going to learn what the Catholic church teaches. I joined a young adult group. We talked about the church’s approach to human sexuality, to life, and it just clicked: it made sense to me. I learned why the church believes what it does and I learned how its beliefs are for our own good. And I learned that the church plays a motherly role in our lives: she understands our humanity and provides us with wisdom to avoid pitfalls, but when we do fall down and hurt ourselves, the church provides the band-aids for us to heal.