During her distinguished 15-year career in law enforcement, Cori Muro dealt with a lot of domestic-violence calls—including many heartbreaking incidents involving children. She later transferred to the detective bureau, where she worked mostly with juveniles, with some cases involving battered women, abused children and narcotics.
After retiring from law enforcement, Muro knew she wanted to pursue volunteering that somehow involved babies, because Muro never had children of her own. She signed up to volunteer in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of nearby Torrance Memorial Medical Center—but she said she was told there was a seven-year wait to volunteer there.
“When you are childless, you become the mother of many,” Muro says. “I love children, and I did take care of other people’s children by babysitting for neighbors and for my nieces and nephews—as well as for some puppies and kittens along the way.”
Many months later, Muro would experience a life-threatening health scare that would change her life forever. When she recovered, Muro decided she needed change in her life, so she relocated to the Coachella Valley, where she had vacationed with her family.
“This was the best thing I could have ever done,” she said. “I felt I was definitely being directed by God. Many of my friends have been living in the valley for years, so I felt that my life just fell into place like dominoes here. I am happy and was able to find great churches and really nice people I could relate to.”
Once settled in her new home in the Palm Springs area, Muro enrolled in a Bible-study class at Southwest Church in Indian Wells. A dear friend in that class knew of Muro’s love of babies, so she told Muro about Mama’s House, the only residential home in the Coachella Valley providing shelter for women in crisis pregnancies. Mama’s House opened its doors seven years ago and has since served more than 230 mothers and their babies. Mama’s House offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these mothers to conquer fears, face challenges and get back on track for success.
“This friend knew of my passion and love of babies, and knew of my disappointment with Torrance Memorial,” Muro said. “She recommended I meet with Jan Lupia, founder and executive director of Mama’s House. After that initial meeting, I was so impressed with this nonprofit’s mission and successful programs that I started immediately volunteering there by providing babysitting.
“The first baby I held was a beautiful baby girl with gorgeous blue eyes. As I held her and fed her a bottle, our eyes locked, and all I could think of was this has to be (like) a mother’s love. The baby’s name was Caitlin, and although she is gone now from Mama’s House, I will always think about holding that little girl and how I was overcome with the feeling of love for this first baby I got to hold.”
Earlier this year, Muro completed a nine-month program on Downline Discipleship Trainingat Southwest Church, which teaches people how to study the Bible and go out into the community to mentor others. She asked Lupia if she could present a program on spiritual mentoring to the resident mamas, and Lupia enthusiastically approved. Muro now teaches this one-on-one program at the Mama’s House Hope Center two days a week.
“We really need this right now in our country,” Muro said. “There is such a need for what Mama’s House is doing. The mamas are really good girls who just have not gotten a break. It is hard sometimes for them. I know, having been a police officer for 15 years who saw so much drug abuse and child abuse. I truly understand what some of these gals are going through, and they definitely need someone who can listen and understand them, in order to help them get back on their feet. I tell them no matter how alone they may think or feel they are, they have someone to lean on for help. It’s important to listen and to give direction and advice on better choices in life. I try to be a little bit of a mom that way.”
Like a mom, Muro is protective of her girls.
“We should never judge them,” she said emphatically. “When they came to Mama’s House, they made the right choice. The mamas have made a difference in my life, and I hope and pray I have made a difference in theirs. I am volunteering at Mama’s House and getting so much more out of it than I am giving.”
For more information on Mama’s House, visit www.themamashouse.org. Madeline Zuckerman is the owner and president of M. Zuckerman Marketing and Public Relations. Her firm represents Mama’s House.