By Tiffany Cooke
Choices Life Resource Center, formerly CARE Pregnancy Center, provides direction with compassion, according to their mission statement.
Care Pregnancy Center adopted their new name of operation at the start of 2019, but did not abandon their purpose – first, to save lives for “now and eternity”, and to educate, counsel, and deliver services for parents.
Whether those who step foot into Choices aren’t sure if they’re pregnant, deciding what parenting option is best for them, or just need assistance or guidance in the process, the staff is there to help.
Donna Wesner, the Salem Center Manager, served with CARE Pregnancy Center for four years before joining the Choices Life Resource Center when the change was made.
“I love seeing the relationships built and seeing the joy in people’s faces when they realize we care about them, their children, and their future,” Wesner said.
Choices Life Resource Center is currently being built and renovated to include more space to serve. In the new facility, there will be three counseling rooms, a resource room, an ultrasound room, a large gathering space of group classes and studies, a kitchen, and a Blessing Boutique that displays a variety of baby supplies and clothing. This boutique carries diapers, formula, maternity clothes, children’s clothes, blankets, bottles, car seats, and cribs.
Within these spaces, choice offers a selection of Step Up Parenting Resources (SUPR). These resources include parenting and life skills education for families with a special ManUp Fatherhood initiative. The primary educational services in SUPR include classes on prenatal development, newborn care, and parenting through the toddler years. Life skills taught include nutrition, cooking, sewing, and budgeting.
Participants can schedule individual appointments or attend group classes to receive these services. Choices provides services from before birth to beyond the toddler years, taking on clients and their children up until the age of five.
All these services, including pregnancy tests, counseling, ultrasounds, and material assistance are free of cost. The catch? To receive these services, program participation is required, but there are no residency or income requirements.
The Center wants parents to successful, so they offer an initiative to motivate these individuals. When participants attend a class, go to a check-up, or anything else that exhibits an effort of “positive, responsible parenting,” they receive a reward. These rewards are Boutique Bucks or Daddy Dollars, “money” that can be cashed in at the Blessing Boutique for maternity or baby items.
How is it that Choices can offer these services with just an initiative-based program?
Choices Life Resources Center isn’t just a pregnancy center, it’s a ministry.
“As a pro-life ministry, we want to give the hope of Jesus,” Wesner said. “We want to focus on truth, hope, and help.”
To be able to offer services for free, Choices is volunteer and donation run. Wesner speaks at local churches, scouting for volunteers and bringing in supplies from the community. Wesner works with Choices because she cares about people and care about the ministry focus. She sees the big need for pregnancy care and assistance and feels called to contribute.
Despite the knowledge and support that Choices and Wesner aim to give to parents, there are challenges in providing this.
“Transportation is definitely a challenge for a lot of our clients,” Wesner said. Some clients have to walk to the center because they don’t have cars to get there.
Also, because it’s the parents’ right to choose, all Wesner and the volunteers can do is let them know that they’re loved and can have hope.
She hopes that everyone’s efforts of compassion, time, and support are enough to inspire them to choose what’s best among the three options – parenting, adoption, or abortion. With love, support, and education, Choices hopes the client will make a life-affirming choice for the baby and themselves.
On a mission to provide direction to any and all parents, Choices is not solely women focused. Whoever plans to raise the child, a couple or an individual, is invited to take part in the classes and utilize the services.
“Parenting is not an instinct,” Wesner said. “It’s something you learn by example.”
To do this, some parents come in several times a week, taking classes, asking questions, and gathering supplies. Wesner has seen cases when the parents bring their children in up until they age out of the program. Being able to watch these children grow up in a happy, healthy, loving environment helps Wesner see first-hand the impact that Choices can make on peoples’ lives.
“I love that I get to be around babies and kids all day as part of my job,” she said. “After all, they are our future.”
Choices Life Resource Center helps parents find support and hope for their future and succeed in it, but also uses their services and support to build a whole new generation – a whole new future.