After the big pro-life events in January—the marches in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco—there’s such excitement in the air. The stirring speeches and sheer size of the crowds who come to show their support are incredible. But what happens once you get back home? Do you take that euphoria and channel it into action? Well, if you’re “charged up” and ready to do something, we at Celebrate Life have a challenge for you. We know of places all over the country waiting for someone just like you to help.
A call to volunteer
According to TIME magazine’s February 15, 2007 issue, crisis pregnancy centers are the “kind, calm, nonjudgmental” face of the pro-life movement and one of the reasons why abortion rates have decreased. “[T]he quiet campaign for women’s heart and minds, conducted in thousands of crisis pregnancy centers around the country … is having an effect,” TIME declared again in its January 21, 2008, issue.
Crisis pregnancy centers rely on the prayers and generosity of donors to survive. But mostly, they need the support of volunteers such as you.
What can I do?
The Northwest Center in Washington, D.C., is a maternity home and pregnancy center that offers many ways for people to help. Some positions require training, but many don’t. For instance, they are always looking for people to host a diaper-and-formula drive at their church or school. A quick glance at several crisis pregnancy centers’ web sites showed a need for volunteers to do handyman-type maintenance, clean, organize, help with mailings, offer prayers, mow the lawn, remove snow, sew or help with laundry. And if you want a “frontline” position with client contact, all centers will help prepare you with a short training class. ” . . . mailings, clerical work, committees . . . just about any skill set. We can always provide a place.”
Sepesi believes many want to help, but feel inadequate. “They feel like they’re going to have to talk someone out of an abortion. And they think, ‘Who am I to be in a position where life and death hangs in the balance? I might burst into tears and not be able to handle it.’” Sepesi helps combat this fear with classes that lay a spiritual foundation. “We spend about a day and a half talking about the spiritual reasons first before we go into the actual training. I think more volunteer retention has come out
But I’m not qualified
Nancy Sepesi is the executive director of Atlanta Pregnancy Resource Center, which is less than three years old and has already seen over 1,000 clients. It has a full-time staff of only five and relies heavily on the help of a volunteer crew. Sepesi said, “We’re just starting to hit our stride.”
She said she has “many opportunities” available: “If someone doesn’t feel called to do one-on-one, there is always a need for help with events, of it. Volunteers feel the burden is not on them anymore. It’s God working through them.”
Patricia Lewis is director of Fox Valley Mother and Unborn Baby Care in Appleton, Wisconsin (an American Life League Associate group). At this large ministry, they see approximately 300 clients per month, so it takes more than 40 volunteers to help keep things running. Lewis said the main reasons people hesitate to volunteer are that “they think they are not qualified … not wise enough … or not skilled.” But Lewis says, “Really all that is needed is a willing heart. God uses us in our imperfections. Remember He says grace is sufficient.”
But I don’t have time
Lewis says many people don’t volunteer because of time constraints, “but we really try to work around people’s schedules.” “As little as two hours per week” is required for a client-contact position, she said.
Sepesi has a rather profound take on the “no time” excuse: “You know, it’s the same thing with abortion. [Women decide] based on all the details: boyfriend, school … and end up with a terrible decision based on circumstances at the time. God sees the bigger picture.” She said, “Don’t worry about time. If you make the decision [to volunteer], God will make time open up for you. I believe that. He will carve it out and help you with your family obligations.” Sepesi adds, “If you have been called, know that He will prepare you.”
The perks are unbelievable
In 2006, Fox Valley initiated an innovative program for its clients, pairing expectant and new moms with parenting mentors. There are currently 168 clients enrolled in the program. Lewis says clients rave about how much they are learning, and the volunteer mentors “love it because they are building relationships.” “It’s very exhilarating, very exciting work,” she said. In fact, Lewis mentioned, “One client recently got married, and three of our volunteers just attended her wedding.”
Lewis says, “God will take you and your life experiences, and use you where you’re needed.” She adds, “It amazes me—the core of volunteers that God has brought. As one volunteer told me, ‘I’m getting more than I give.’”
Sepesi said there would be more volunteers “if churches only understood the mission.” “Churches are not talking about abortion,” she stated. “They need to know that there are 1,100 [Care Net pregnancy resource center] ministries across the nation speaking the truth. People can make an impact there.”
Sepesi added, “We need a compassionate response, not just a passionate response. I would think 99 percent of us have been touched by abortion, even if we don’t know it. When you wonder why your cousin has been having a hard time, drinks too much, can’t keep a job … she may be caught in the sin, mistakes and deep regret [of abortion]. You are needed to help create a world of love, grace and forgiveness.”
Top reasons to volunteer
1. Pro-aborts claim that we care only about the preborn, not the mothers.
2. Yes, you are qualified.
3. It may be required for teens. Schools now ask for community service hours before graduation, churches may want service hours before Confirmation programs and colleges often make it a requirement for admission.
4. It’s your turn.
Here’s how to find a crisis pregnancy center near you: http://Birthright.org or 800-550-4900, HeartbeatInternational.org or 888-550-7577, Care-net.org or 703-478-5661, http://PregnancyCenters.org, 1-800-395-4357, NorthWestCenter.net or 202-483-7008, FVMUBC.org or 920-733-7334, AtlantaPregnancy.org or 770-723-0772