Denver, Colo., Jan 25, 2015 / 14:59 pm
Lynn Grandon kept a tally on her desk of how many babies she knew the Denver Lighthouse women's center had helped bring into this world.
Last week, an e-mail from a nurse at the center confirmed that five more women had given birth – bringing the total to 100. Grandon, the director of Lighthouse, could barely contain her excitement.
"I called her back on the phone and I was screaming and I was going, 'Do you realize what this means? We've hit 100!'" Grandon recalled.
The Lighthouse Women's Center, which is operated by Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Denver, has probably saved many more babies. They do their best to follow up with women who have come to them for care, but sometimes they lose touch.
The celebration is also bittersweet, Grandon told CNA, because there are some who seek help at Lighthouse who end up miscarrying their child.
"Those, in their own precious way, are triumphs too, because she did everything in her heart that was the right thing to do in a difficult situation," Grandon reflected. "So we honor the decisions of those women too, it just doesn't get such a public face, so that's the behind-the-scenes story that's just as meaningful to us."
Lighthouse offers a revolutionary approach to crisis pregnancy care, which they call a "continuum of care." Depending on the client, that care may include emergency assistance, shelter, counseling, child care and victim assistance, in addition to provision of diapers and material needs for moms with newborns and infants. Their connections to other Catholic services and centers in the archdiocese means they can help women through whatever challenges they may face.
"Catholic Charities comes alongside these women and helps them even after the baby's born," Grandon explained, "so this continuum of care is unique in the United States, we're very proud of it, and intend to work with organizations to replicate it nationwide."
With the number 100, Lighthouse has saved at least one baby a week on average since March 2013 - which is no small feat, considering they are located across the street from the second largest Planned Parenthood in the nation. Lighthouse opened in October 2012.
Grandon said once in a while, a woman intending to go to Planned Parenthood will actually come to Lighthouse instead, but she wishes it happened more often.
Unfortunately, she explained, "(t)here are very vocal protesters right at Planned Parenthood's gate that shout unkind and demeaning things at the women, which actually often makes them run into the building just to get away from them."
Another part of the problem is the visibility of Lighthouse, which Grandon said will soon change.
"We are actually constructing a very large 4x30 ft. sign above our fencing that the women can see from their cars," Grandon said.
It will read: "You are not alone, free help here."
Women considering abortion are almost always doing so out of fear and a sense of being alone, Grandon said, difficulties that Lighthouse staff are trained to address and help women overcome.
"My experiences at Lighthouse were amazing: the friendliest staff, nurses, everyone just makes you feel comfortable and at ease," said one woman served at Lighthouse, who gave birth to a daughter last year. "I could tell them my concerns and they would help me out. They would calm me down if I was upset."
Although Lighthouse already offers a myriad of services, they are hoping to expand even more to be able to help more pregnant women in poverty and to launch mobile medical units on university campuses in the Denver area, complete with free ultrasounds, STI testing and counseling.
Lighthouse is hoping to raise some of these fund to expand at their upcoming Gala, "A Beacon of Hope" on Jan. 31 in Denver. The gala includes keynote speaker Jason Scott Jones, a pro-life activist, author and producer of the film "Bella." Details of the event can be found at www.ccdenver.org/gala.