Mike Hentges and Steve Smith
Diocese of Jefferson City, Missouri
Mike Hentges and Steve Smith formed St. Raymond’s Society, a non-profit organization that encourages pregnant women to choose life and form healthy families, after they met and became friends through the Cursillo retreat experience. Mike Hentges is the COO of a lawn care business in Columbia, MO. He is a parishioner of Our Lady of Lourdes parish. Steve Smith is a financial adviser and is a member of St. Peter Church in Jefferson City, MO. Both are married with children.
They give generously of their time in direct service to clients, in fundraising, and in promoting St. Raymond's with no compensation other than the satisfaction of doing God's will and the warm gratitude of the hundreds they help each year.
Since the first house opened in 2012, St. Raymond’s Society has grown to three houses in the diocese of Jefferson City, one house in California, eleven employees and more than 150 volunteers. The organization helps vulnerable, pregnant women by providing basic needs, giving them the security and confidence that they will be able to care for their children. They found that most women do not opt for abortion because simply because their pregnancy is unwanted, but because they are scared, alone, or broke. A safe and stable home was the answer to young women who were put out by scandalized families, abandoned by the baby’s father, or who couldn’t afford medical bills or housing. Today, St. Raymond’s Society provides warm, loving communities for women who seek physical and spiritual shelter during their pregnancy.
St. Raymond’s helps to grow the Catholic faith in the community through the volunteers and donors. For example, when a woman without a permanent home found out she was having triplets, she turned to St. Raymond’s Society. “Through our local community volunteers, we were able to provide round-the-clock care once the babies were born,” said Steve Smith. “This involved people from different church traditions and walks of life to form a community for this family.” The mother has since successfully moved out and is soon to be married to the father.
“Steve and Mike give clear witness to our obligation to attend to those who are the least among us,” said the bishop of Jefferson City, Most Reverend W. Shawn McKnight. “They also testify to seeing what needs to be done and saying to the Lord in prayer, ‘I want to help. Send me.’”
In 2018, the Jefferson City houses provided housing to 21 mothers and their 26 children. St. Raymond’s also provided assistance to 137 non-residential mothers in their communities and their 211 children. Many of the mothers found employment and obtained college degrees. All of them found stable housing.
Mike Hentges said, “This work provides a way for me to serve God by serving my neighbor and sharing His love. I feel that we have been called by God to do this. It is my faith that makes this work possible and this work strengthens my faith.”