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CareNet provides pregnancy options PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 14 November 2017 12:30


• Leader & Times

Women facing crisis pregnancies are often left agonizing over the practical implications to giving birth to an unplanned child.

This also leaves them wondering how they can continue in school during a pregnancy, placing the baby up for adoption, whether they should marry a willing father or being a single parent while carrying on with school or a career.

One study indicates 90 out of 100 women said they would not have an abortion if they only had someone to stand by them and help them find positive alternatives.

For most women, proximity to a credible, community-supported and well-promoted crisis pregnancy facility is an important factor in whether she will choose a positive alternative to abortion.

Directors of CareNet crisis pregnancy centers have found that a majority of women will come from a 10- to 15-mile radius. Greater distances tend to deter women 19 or younger, while older clients will often travel further.

Some community members and CareNet leaders met Saturday evening at Liberal’s Mid-America Air Museum. in an effort to bring a CareNet Crisis Pregnancy Center to Seward County.

Before talking about CareNet itself, meeting coordinator Cindi Lyddon talked about some of the concerns about pregnancy, especially that of young people, in Seward County.

“The teen birth rate and teen pregnancy were their top concerns,” she said. “Seward County is number one in teen pregnancies in the state of Kansas. One report indicated 30 teens out of 1,000 would be pregnant this year. Another report that I read said that 77 out of 1,000 teens in Seward County would be pregnant this year. In 2016, the 18- and 19-year-old age range for teen pregnancies was 165 out of 1,000, and the state average is 40. The CDC said there were 48 teen pregnancies and 15 abortions in Seward County. Eighty percent who were going to choose abortion chose life after coming to a CareNet center.”

Lyddon said CareNet centers are an outreach ministry of Jesus Christ through His church.

“God values mercy and kindness, justice and grace,” she said. “Like the woman at the well and the woman caught in adultery, God never compromises the truth, but points the way to receive the Father’s forgiveness and restoration. God is the author of life, and each child is a precious gift. He hates the shedding of innocent blood.”

Lyddon said because of Seward County’s pregnancy issues, a CareNet center is exactly what is needed.

“We need a crisis pregnancy center that provides a clear Christian witness with a broad outreach,” she said.

Lyddon said CareNet is a proven model for pregnant women.

“It’s a proven model of ministry for pregnant women, and it’s part of the Christian Action Counsel,” she said. “It was founded in 1975 by Dr. Harold O.J. Brown, and it was founded with the advice of the Rev. Billy Graham.”

Lyddon said CareNet provides practical, compassionate, emotional and spiritual support to women, boyfriends and parents dealing with unplanned pregnancies.

“It promotes abstinence among clients through presentations in the schools, free pregnancy tests, crisis pregnancy peer counseling, maternity and baby clothing, incentive-based learning, a Bible study ministry,” she said. “It’s the largest international affiliated organization of pregnancy centers. There’s more than 400 of these centers in the U.S.”

Debbie Widener from a CareNet center in Lamar, Colo., was also at Saturday’s meeting, and she talked about how the center in Lamar was formed with the help of a center in nearby La Junta, Colo.

“In 2008, I called the director of La Junta’s pregnancy center,” she said. “La Junta is 50 miles from Lamar. The board of directors of La Junta said they would like to help us open a pregnancy center in Lamar. La Junta’s pregnancy center, they had been open for over 20 years, and they have been with CareNet all this time. We knew that if were going to continue and try to open a pregnancy center in Lamar, we would be part of CareNet.”

The process to get a center in Lamar began in 2008 with a steering committee.

“Lamar did not have board members yet. I was going to La Junta’s board meetings every month. Starting in 2008, we started working on opening a pregnancy center,” Widener said. “The door did not open until September 2010. It was two years that it took for Lamar to open a pregnancy center.”

Widener said much work was involved in the two-year time period it took to open Lamar’s CareNet center.

“There were times that I really did not think that it was going to take that much time,” she said. “We were praying about it.”

Much of those prayers, Widener said, were about the group being ready to open the center, something that was done at just the right moment.

“Looking back on that timing, we weren’t ready,” she said. “In all that time, that two years we working on it, it was so that when that door was opened, we were ready for those clients that came in.”

Widener talked about some of the advice she got from the La Junta group about preparing for the Lamar center’s opening.

“Before you can even think about opening a door in Lamar, you have to have enough money to pay for the rent for at least six months,” she said. “When you do open that door, the last thing you’re going to want to be thinking about is the money part of it. There is a lot you’re going to be working on when that door opens up.”

The CareNet center in Lamar is open two days a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“That’s how it’s been for seven years now,” Widener said. “I have 13 volunteers, and you would think where we’re only open two days, why would I need so many volunteers? There’s a lot that happens at the pregnancy center, and it takes all of us to be working together. I would never want to do this by myself. It’s wonderful when those volunteers are always there, and it’s very important for them to be at the pregnancy center too.”

Thus far in 2017, Lamar’s CareNet has seen 65 new clients. Widener said many are still going, which helps keep doors open, as does 228 repeat clients. She said much of that business is due to relationships.

“Relationships with these clients is very, very important, and you can’t start that the first time,” she said. “We always ask these clients to keep coming back with us because that’s what relationships are about.”

Widener said CareNet is a safe place for kids, and she said the age span of the center’s clients goes from as young as 14 to some older than 40.

Prowers County, Colo., where Lamar is located, has about 15,000 residents, slightly smaller than Seward County, and 42 churches.

“The pregnancy center, we have 28 church reps, so obviously, we don’t have church reps from all the churches,” Widener said. “Some of them are pastors, and some of them are just the people that go to the church. They are a bridge for us, and it’s between the churches and the pregnancy center. They come to see us, and we give them all the information about the pregnancy center so that they can take it back to their churches.”

Widener added as a 501(c)3 faith-based center, all of CareNet’s services for their clients are free. It does, however, cost the pregnancy center to do all that needs to be done there.

“It is $700 each month,” she said. “We pay $500 for rent. Our pregnancy center is kind of small. We only have seven rooms. What it costs for the year to keep the doors open, it costs us $5,707. We just count on our community, our churches that give us. It just takes everybody, and the community has just been wonderful for us.”

Widener said she believes a crisis pregnancy center would be a good fit for Seward County.

“There is so much CareNet can do,” she said. “Their services are wonderful.”

Information was on hand for those who came to MAAM Saturday, including an 18-month outline for getting a pregnancy center in Seward County. Some of the steps include forming a steering committee, community surveys, electing a board of directors, applying for tax-exempt status and choosing a target location.




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