2024 Difference Maker: How Richard Cuba's vision brought LifeHouse Crisis Maternity Home to Cape Girardeau

(Photo by Aaron Eisenhauer)

Richard Cuba, president and director of Operations at Cuba Financial, and founding board member for the LifeHouse Crisis Maternity Home in Cape Girardeau, established the slogan “Live Purposefully, Work Diligently, and Give Generously” for his family in 1982. These sentiments have deep roots in his life.

After struggling to have children for years, Cuba and his wife, Rhonda, reached out for adoption through the Catholic Charities in Kansas City.

“They called on a Tuesday night, and said ‘We’d like you to be in Kansas City Friday. We have twin boys for you.’” Cuba said. “We said, ‘We don’t have anything to take care of them’, so we began scrambling around for a day or two, getting baby bottles, diapers, and baby beds.”

Friends and family sprang into action, providing the Cubas with an unforgettable support system. Now, whether it’s dispensing life lessons to one of his eight grandchildren – “Don’t forget to hold the car door open” – or celebrating his 50th anniversary with his wife, Cuba takes a multifaceted approach to his provision and leadership within his family and throughout his work in the community.

The goal of the LifeHouse Crisis Maternity House is to provide a safe, secure facility for women who are experiencing homelessness and pregnancy to raise their children. Cuba said the LifeHouse plans to house 15 women at a time, where each can stay up to a year with her baby and an additional child up to 5 years in age. The facility has, among many other amenities, secured entryways, family-style dining and separate bedrooms/bathrooms for each family.

Cuba recognizes, through firsthand experience, the impact holistic support provides for developing families cannot be understated.

“My parents were a major support system, I always felt loved,” Cuba said. “We were lower middle class, and there were five children, but they always provided for us what we needed, and they sacrificed.”

After spending time on the board of the flagship Springfield, Missouri location, and observing how their LifeHouse was complete in its provision, Cuba and Rhonda began fundraising for the new Cape Girardeau location in 2016. They started a capital campaign, continued grant writing to seek support, and kicked off the public capital campaign in January 2020.

“Nobody was able to go out and talk to anybody else about supporting it,” Cuba said. “So that lasted for a good year, or year and a half. And in that time, all the prices of materials skyrocketed, and building supplies became much more expensive.”

After eight years of dogged persistence and $9 million raised, the LifeHouse is in operation. Cuba cites his faith in the Lord as essential for navigating the financial and logistical hurdles.

“We talk about me being a difference maker. Jesus is that difference maker,” Cuba said. “He opened the doors it took for us to get the grant money and the support from the community, and from 17 people in 17 different states [who helped donate].”

Cuba, along with LifeHouse director Jeremy Rowland, cut no corners in designing the LifeHouse, exhibiting a meticulous eye for detail, from including a handmade altar constructed by members of the community to backlit baby changing tables. One of the steps in the open-air courtyard was even taken from the original St. Vincent Church in Cape Girardeau, built in 1853.

Now, more than 50 volunteers have completed training and are ready to help at the LifeHouse as women move in, and donations are always welcome. With consistent prenatal and postpartum care for up to a year and temporary lodging during the intake process, it’s clear why Cuba views LifeHouse as a “complete program”.

Cuba, through his substantial acts of service in all stages of life, reminds us to ask the simple questions: “How can I help? How do I think of others and meet their needs? That’s what your life ought to be. Whether it’s money, whether it’s a good and happy spirit, think of others.”