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Catholic Charities, Women's Center Help Pregnant Women
Steve Euvino
Source: Catholic News Service
Published: Tuesday, March 13, 2012
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Janessa McKinley, a registered nurse, arranges clothing in the Crib Club.
HAMMOND, Ind. (CNS)—Thanks to a collaboration of agencies, a foundation and other funding sources, the first Women's Care Center opened March 1 in the Diocese of Gary.

The 19th such facility to open in Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan, the center serves young pregnant women who lack resources and support.

"This ministry is very much needed in Northwest Indiana," Gary Bishop Dale J. Melczek said at the dedication ceremony. "Every human being has value, but how do we act on that? You're helping those in difficult situations. This is not just professing faith, but action."

The first Women's Care Center opened in 1984, started by Janet Smith, then a University of Notre Dame professor who saw the need in the community. That first year the facility saw 300 patients. Last year, these centers saw 18,828 women, or about 300 a day. Services include counseling, pregnancy tests, educational programming, ultrasound and a Crib Club that offers new baby items in exchange for women attending programs.

For the first time, Women's Care Center is partnering with a Catholic Charities. "That's been a real blessing," said Ann Manion, president of Women's Care Center, based in South Bend. "We serve people that are not particularly happy to be pregnant and do not have resources."

Typically, Manion said, the clientele is young women, one-third of whom are in their teens. Eighty percent are unmarried and many are poor. All services are provided at no charge. The facility is 100 percent privately funded through donations.

Daniel Lowery, chairman of the advisory board for Catholic Charities in the Gary Diocese, said, "We are proud and happy to be in this effort for choice. This is an opportunity for women to make the right choice—God's choice—at a difficult time in their life."

Deacon Duane Dedelow, executive director of Catholic Charities, noted, "We are here, doing God's work, to protect children and save lives."

The facility is located near the expressway, next to a Planned Parenthood office—not uncommon for Women's Care Centers. "We're able to touch the lives of women who may be considering abortion and need positive encouragement and support," Manion told the Northwest Indiana Catholic, Gary's diocesan newspaper.

The Hammond center professional staff consists of an ultrasound technician and a full-time prenatal nurse. The center includes two counseling rooms, the ultrasound room, two waiting rooms, the Crib Club, and a children's area.

Deacon Dedelow noted that bringing the center to Northwest Indiana is "truly a partnership of many, many people." Among those providing part of the $120,000 for the center's initial operating year is the Dorothy Abel Purcell Pro-Life Foundation.

The foundation's James Purcell, noting that the dedication day was his late wife Dot's birthday, called the center's opening a "hallmark achievement." Saying that this region tops the state in the number of abortions, Purcell added, "Everybody ... has an opportunity to live."

Attorney Richard Komyatte, who with his wife, Sylvia, also contributed to the center, said his two daughters, Deanna and Kristin, both volunteered at the South Bend center during their college years.
Calling Women's Care Center a "first-class operation," Komyatte said there had been "no real facility in Lake County that would give a sense of support, to prepare women to make that decision. There was no support system in place."

By offering women ultrasound, Komyatte said, "They see the infant and hear the heartbeat"—images and sounds that can change a woman's decision not to abort.

The center also offers classes on parenting skills and job placement. Clients receive vouchers for attendance and they can use these vouchers to obtain items from the Crib Club, including baby clothes, diapers, personal care items and mattresses.

Father Theodore J. Mens, diocesan pro-life director, was also involved in making the local center a reality. He called the opening "a much-needed achievement," also pointing to the "promise of more centers to come."

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