Sep 302015



Photo by Nolan Madden

Bread of Life Rescue Mission resident Marilyn Conner cradles fellow resident Virginia Eastwood’s week-old newborn, Rheuger, Sep. 24. Eastwood was informed after the baby’s delivery at the shelter that her unofficial midwife, Conner, is a distant relative.

By Nolan Madden

The Bread of Life Rescue Mission is known as a mainstay within the Holbrook community, receiving and sharing donations of comfort, hope and provisions at just the right time with those who are in need of support. But on the evening of Sept. 17, the mission delivered a particularly special package, one that weighed in at eight pounds, 11 ounces and was 21 inches long.

Cherise Merrick, Bread of Life Rescue Mission executive director, humorously recalls how the event unfolded. “I was in Salt Lake City at a conference and had gotten a text message at midnight from the shelter saying, ‘We delivered a baby in the women’s bathroom.’ I didn’t have my glasses on, so I read ‘We delivered a lady,’ and I thought, ‘Wow, (our mission center) must be really full.’ But when I put my glasses on, I read it again and said, ‘Oh… a baby!’”

She continued “It was our intern, Karen Spurlock, and two of our residents, Marilyn Conner and Sarah Schleck, who did the delivery.”

The proud mother, Virginia Eastwood, who is not from the Holbrook area, smiled as she explained that her first surprise that evening came shortly after she felt her first contractions: “I did not know there was not a hospital in the little town of Holbrook.”

“My contractions were about six minutes apart, so I thought ‘Oh, I’ve got time.’ I was figuring on 10 minutes, tops, for an ambulance to get here. I told the girls here that I just needed to use the restroom before we leave. As I motioned to get out of bed I thought to myself, ‘Oh, maybe not.’”

Eastwood says it seemed not soon after the mission staff had laid her comfortably on the restroom floor that the delivery was complete. “I started my contractions at 8:15 p.m. and my baby girl was here by 8:45 p.m. She’d had her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck, and Marilyn helped to get her breathing,” she recalled.

Eastwood says her little bundle of joy is well set with layette items, which she gratefully acknowledges is thanks to the goodwill and generosity of Holbrook’s Peace Lutheran Church Pastor Jeff Johnson and the Bread of Life staff. “The mission here has supplied us with everything we need; support, clothes. It worked out really well,” she said.

Merrick noted that Pastor Johnson had shown up at the rescue mission on the following morning, unaware of the shelter’s new arrival. “He had all new baby items to donate: clothes, a brand-new car seat, a new stroller, a playpen. About the only thing we need are newborn-sized diapers,” she said.

Eastwood pointed out that a layover in Holbrook was not on her initial agenda. “I was passing through and, the lady I was traveling with, her car broke down. She didn’t want me to be out in the heat because I was so close (to delivering). I found out about the mission and had only been here since 5 that evening, and had my baby three hours later,” she said.

Merrick says that Eastwood and the mission staff have already set new goals for the Eastwoods’ future. “She has plans. She says she really likes the area and has decided she’s going to stay. She wants to get recertified for her Certified Nursing Assistant license. Now she’s got a whole new support system. She’ll be able to plug in at Northland Pioneer College here, she’ll be able to get established and make a decent living,” she said.

Bread of Life Rescue Mission says that it has been “blessed by the support of individuals, churches and businesses.” To volunteer or provide donations, call (928) 241-1061 or visit to complete a volunteer application form.