I first met Dianne Miley when we worked together at the Lowcountry Pregnancy Center in North Charleston. As a girl in my early twenties, I had just moved several states away from my own mother after getting married. The women I found myself surrounded by at work were nothing short of sweet, motherly comfort in the day-to-day of figuring out life as my own “grownup”. Dianne was one of the women I could deeply connect with over lunch conversations about life and dreams. She would fervently pray for and encourage my family as my husband and I went through our first adoption process.
Early on in getting to know Dianne, she shared with me about her personal life-mission of starting a maternity housing program in Charleston — aiming to fill a great gap in support for Charleston women in need. In the years since that “someday” mission started coming to fruition in 2014. I’m thrilled to introduce you all to this dynamic, go-getter of a Mom, blooming out of her direct parenting years in such a beautiful way, right here in our city!
Charleston Moms Blog (CMB): Dianne, I am so eager to share your story with the CMB community! First, tell us about your background and your family.
Dianne: I’m originally from northeast Ohio. My husband and I have been married for 35 years, and we have two grown children. My professional background is mainly in business, bookkeeping, and administrative work. My husband and I have been working together, self-employed, in the automotive and trucking industries since 1990, the year our daughter was born. I love to write, and when my children started going to school, I began to focus more on my writing. I have five books published, and another in the process. The weather drew us to Charleston in 2009 when our kids started college. Thankfully both of our children moved closer to us after finishing college, which was an answer to my prayers! They each got married in 2017 and now I’m in a whole different phase of life. In my free time, I enjoy walking the beach, growing flowers in my garden, decorating, entertaining, cooking for others, and having tea parties.
CMB: What have you been doing in recent years as an empty nester?
Dianne: It’s been an adjustment for me, now that my kids are grown and married. They have their spouses to confide in (as they should), so my role in their lives has changed. I have started doing more on my own, becoming more of an entrepreneur. Once my professional life aligned in recent years to do so, I have been full-time pursuing my passion of helping pregnant women through founding the non-profit Sanctuary Of Unborn Life (SOUL).
CMB: That sounds like quite a shift in your life! What are some nuggets of wisdom for other moms approaching this phase of life?
Dianne: I would say, accept that life is going to be different. Your children won’t need you as much in daily life — and that’s a good thing! I always remind myself that the whole purpose of parenting is for your children to grow into their own independent people.
CMB: Let’s talk about your writing next. What types of books have you authored, and where could someone get a copy?
Dianne: My first book is Christian non-fiction, Time to Enjoy Your Blessings. It’s all about simplifying life and time management. I’m so glad that this topic is becoming more of a widespread movement recently!
I also write Christian fiction; I like to call them romantic mystery novels. The Crystal Falls Series is a small town series that starts in Ohio, and by the end, some characters have moved to Charleston — in a way, the writings followed my journey!
You can find my books on Amazon, or through my website: DianneMiley.com
CMB: That’s so neat! I can’t wait to read more of your writing. And finally, tell us about what prompted the formation of SOUL?
Dianne: My interests, gifts, and skillsets have always correlated with hospitality and helping people. A side note, I always thought it would be really fun to open a Tea Room or a Bed and Breakfast. But the greatest passion in my heart is doing something to help pregnant women in hard situations. Pregnancy is a big, transitional time in a woman’s life — and it breaks my heart when a woman is in tough circumstances with little support as she prepares for her baby’s arrival. As I’ve had more time to do something about that passion in recent years, I found out about the local pregnancy center through my church. I decided to volunteer there in order to learn more about the needs of pregnant women in this area. Through my volunteer work, I learned there is a great need in Charleston for maternity housing, or rather, emergency housing specifically for pregnant women in difficult life situations. I immediately knew it felt right and natural with my experience and capabilities, that this was the direction I was called to.
CMB: What is SOUL’s mission and vision for the future?
Dianne: The mission of SOUL is to help pregnant women be in a better place — physically, emotionally, and spiritually. As the support base of SOUL grows, we would like to be able to help more women with emergency housing, and we plan to open a Tea Room in the future. The Tea Room would provide employment and job training for the women we serve, in a flexible, positive environment that is sensitive to their needs. A lot of times jobs aren’t understanding nor accommodating with the limitations women have during pregnancy. So we want to help pregnant women prepare for their little ones in a holistic way.
CMB: I feel like your mothering nature extends into your work in starting SOUL. What is your favorite part about this work?
Dianne: My absolute favorite part is working directly with the women and seeing them grow more in peace and excitement about their babies. I love to help them feel hope and support, rather than despair and discouragement.
CMB: If someone reading this interview is either in a difficult pregnancy situation or knows someone who is, how could SOUL help support a woman in this season of life?
Dianne: We offer a group for pregnant women called SOUL Sisters. It’s for anyone who is pregnant, even if you already feel like you have a good support system right now. We get together every other week at the Seacoast Dream Center (currently) for “food, friendship, and faith”. For details about meeting times, you can email [email protected]. It’s a great time for connection with other women in the same season of life. We provide some mentoring, teach life skills, and spiritual encouragement through a short Bible study and prayer. We welcome all walks of faith. We’ve had women join us who aren’t on the same spiritual path, and they are welcomed and supported. As each woman approaches her due date, we have a little baby shower to celebrate with the SOUL Sisters. We also have a program to provide housing assistance for pregnant women in need, in the form of rental subsidy, or help with utilities.
CMB: If someone wanted to get involved with SOUL’s work, what are some needs and ways to partner?
Dianne: We would love to have more mentors/life coaches on-board to walk through this life change with the women we serve. Or anyone interested in leading an activity/class or providing a meal for a SOUL Sisters meeting, that’s always a great help. Another need is help with social media, marketing, getting the word out to women in the community that we’re here! And, of course, if anyone feels moved to give a financial contribution, it will support the housing assistance program! We have a Tea coming up on Saturday, April 6th at 2pm. If anyone would like to attend and learn more about SOUL, they can reserve tickets online.
CMB: What is a life lesson you’ve learned through starting a nonprofit?
Dianne: To me, it’s more rewarding to help other people than to make a lot of money.
CMB: And for fun, what is your favorite flower, dessert, tea flavor, and time to walk the beach?
Dianne: I really like pink roses, chocolate cake, and vanilla chai tea! I usually enjoy walking the beach around 4pm or 5pm. It’s a nice way to relax after my work day, and by that time of the day ,all the tourists have left!
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