Sarah seemed to have it all together. She came from a close-knit family with a strong work ethic. She put in the time and effort to become a straight-A student and star soccer player in high school. And her hard work paid off when she earned a full scholarship to play soccer in college. The future looked bright, and Sarah felt like she had endless possibilities ahead of her.
But then Sarah found out she was pregnant. Her world seemed to be falling apart. How could she get through finals if she had morning sickness? How could she continue to play soccer? Would she lose her scholarship? It felt as if she were drowning in a sea of impossibilities. Not knowing where to turn, Sarah felt her only option was to end her pregnancy. Then, a friend told her about the Women’s Care Center near campus. Anxious and not knowing what to expect, Sarah made an appointment for a free pregnancy test. That visit turned her life around.
Building Caring Relationships. The first Women’s Care Center (WCC) opened its doors in 1984. A University of Notre Dame professor generously purchased a house in South Bend, Indiana—next to the local abortion clinic—because she felt called to reach out to women in crisis pregnancies. When a phone-a-thon raised thirty thousand dollars for the project, she decided to use the money not for supplies but to hire a trained counselor to work with the women who came seeking help. She knew that establishing a personal connection was essential.
That first year, three hundred women came to the little blue house in South Bend. Thirty-five years later, in 2019, more than thirty thousand women have been served by the thirty-two Women’s Care Centers nationwide.
Two of those clients were Joe and Kathy. Newly married, they were both in the military and preparing to be deployed in a few days. When a home pregnancy test came back positive, they didn’t know what to do. Joe looked online for help and came across WCC. They made an appointment, and both came in to discuss “the big A,” as they called it. They had a chance to talk through their fears with a counselor and received a free ultrasound. Even though their baby was tiny, they were amazed by what they saw and knew right away they wanted to keep their baby. Months later, WCC received a note of thanks, with a photo of the new family, complete with their little baby!
Rising above Obstacles. One of WCC’s greatest strengths is the practical support they offer. The vast majority of their clients face profoundly difficult situations. The reality of pregnancy may be devastating, but building a relationship with a counselor helps the mother recognize her dignity. Suddenly she starts to have hope and begins to believe that maybe she is stronger than she thought. In such a supportive environment, she finds the freedom to love her baby.
Of course the obstacles don’t magically go away. The expectant mother will be returning to the same environment that made her feel it was impossible to carry her child. That’s why WCC promises to support each client from the time of the pregnancy test until she sends her child off to kindergarten. WCC offers goals sessions to help attack the issues each woman is facing, group parenting classes, and many other practical forms of assistance. They not only help their clients choose life, but they walk with them every step of the way in the years that follow.
Communities of Caring. Well over 90 percent of the women receiving services at WCC choose to carry their children. On average, these women will return five times during that first year for support from their counselor and the staff at WCC. The women who walk through the doors of any WCC also receive support from the entire community. It’s that model of service that convinces each woman that she is worth it. Her baby is worth it. That’s what makes all the difference.
It’s not surprising that some of the women helped by WCC want to return the favor. One young woman became a nurse and came back to work for WCC. Another told her counselor she planned to go to college and study hard so that she could become a counselor. These women went from feeling crushed by their circumstances to believing in their own strengths and accepting the support of their community. They developed the self-reliance to meet their goals.
Success Stories. What happened to Sarah, the student-athlete? Her counselor helped her deal with her fears and the immense pressure she felt to succeed. She helped Sarah break down all those “impossibilities” into small, manageable tasks. One week, she talked to her academic advisor about rearranging her class schedule. Another week, she explored her options for continuing soccer after her baby’s birth and found that she would not lose her scholarship!
After her first visit to WCC, Sarah knew she didn’t really want an abortion. She also saw that she had other options. Seven months later, Sarah gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. She and her boyfriend are now married. With a smile, she says that her life did not fall apart; in fact, she achieved more than she hoped because she had someone depending on her, someone to fight for.
A longtime counselor says that working with women in crisis pregnancies is all about joy. Yes, they confront heartbreaking struggles a lot of the time. But she sees women facing these struggles courageously, and she watches with gratitude as they embrace their unique gifts with confidence. In the end, it’s about life as well. It’s about the joy and hope of seeing a young woman becoming a mother. That’s why WCC does what it does.
Hallie Riedel is an editor for The Word Among Us. For more information, visit womenscarecenter.org.
God is changing lives in pregnancy care centers.
Every day, women like Sarah face unplanned pregnancies and look for help. At pregnancy care centers, they receive free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and a caring alternative to abortion. And there they find The Word Among Us.
The Word Among Us Partners offers these women the hope of Jesus Christ during a tumultuous time. Your gifts to Partners help more than 20,000 women grow closer to God through The Word Among Us magazine. Because of your generosity, these women can receive the encouragement and grace to choose life.
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