Expanded women’s care center holds dedication in South Bend
By Diane Freeby

.- Just as the needs of pregnant women in St. Joseph County continue to grow, so does the ability of the Women’s Care Center to continue serving them.  With 14 pregnancy help centers operating throughout northern Indiana, lower Michigan and in Ohio, the office located just down the street from where the very first Care Center opened 25 years ago has expanded with Bishop John M. D’Arcy’s blessing.

He was on hand recently for the dedication ceremony. A supporter since the beginning, Bishop D’Arcy prayed especially for the Women’s Care Center and all who come there.

“This will be a place where you will give counseling and advice to women in need, to save the unborn,” said Bishop D’Arcy to a room full of care center supporters and staff — “a place, which respects the dignity of the human person. By this great work, for the most defenseless among us, you will help all of us continue in the journey where Jesus Christ will become closer to his people.”

Located at the corner of LaSalle and Notre Dame Avenue, this Women’s Care Center office will do more than house the corporate offices and provide central storage for all the donated baby items. It will allow counselors to continue serving those in need by offering pregnancy tests and helping women choose life for their babies. Women’s Care Center President Ann Manion says they also hope to make a positive impact on the problem women have accessing prenatal medical care in St. Joseph County.

“That has reached a 16-year low in our community,” explained Manion, “and so we were becoming concerned our clients were not receiving medical prenatal care.”

Manion said the Women’s Care Center joined with Saint Joseph’s Regional Medical Center to find a way to work together in solving that problem.

“We started seeing all kinds of other benefits because as the women are coming back for their prenatal care, we can walk the path of life with them, and help them with parenting classes and goal counseling, Crib Club and all the things we already do. So they’re not only getting medical care, they’re keeping in touch with us.”

Manion said care center clients, many of whom come in to have a pregnancy test and are facing an unplanned pregnancy, receive nine months of prenatal care with the midwives. She said ultimately they may be joined by family practice residents, and those details are being considered.

The new addition adds about another 3,000 square feet of space to the already 3,000 square feet that was utilized for counseling rooms, storage and the Crib Club.

Parenting classes will now have a dedicated room and no longer need to be held in the reception area. The new basement will serve as the hub for collecting and distributing donated items, such as baby clothes, formula and cribs. The counselors themselves will have more elbow room to provide services to their clients, and the nurse who provides nearly 40 hours a week of ultrasounds will be able to continue that vital service.

“Over 90-percent of abortion-minded women choose life after looking at an ultrasound picture,” said Manion. “And that’s abortion-minded, not just everybody. It’s such a powerful, powerful bonding tool.”

Foundation Director Bobby Williams had a long list of benefactors to thank, many of whom were on hand to celebrate this latest victory for the culture of life.

According to Williams, 250 times a day a young woman comes through the doors of a Women’s Care Center, and that one out of three babies born in St. Joseph County are from women who have received help from the care center.

“There have been countless children saved from abortion,” Williams told the packed room, thanking them for their ongoing support. “Countless families have been made whole.”

The Women’s Care Center is a not-for-profit pregnancy help center, dedicated to helping women choose life for their babies. In her 25 years of service, Manion has never drawn a paycheck and she says the center is grateful for the years of dedicated support they receive from the community and from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

Reprinted with permission from Today's Catholic newspaper, Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

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