Pregnancy care centre turns 10
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | September 15. 2016|
Being single and pregnant was not something Candice Grimes was prepared for at the age of 23 after having just moved back from the city.
“What the heck?” she recalls thinking of that time in her life about two years ago.
“I had split up with the father and I didn’t know much about children. I was kind of like, what am I supposed to do? I’m going to be a single parent.”
One of her mom’s friends knew about a place called The Highlands Community Pregnancy Care Centre and suggested they go and check it out.
Grimes underwent counselling and then was part of a pre-natal group.
“It gave me peace. I knew what to do. I had a plan. I was confident about having Carter.”
The 15-month-old toddler is playing as Grimes shares her story at the centre in unit B, 187 Highland St., Haliburton.
She is one of 319 different people who have come through the door of the centre in its 10 years of servicing Haliburton County.
Jade Newbatt is another. She is at the centre with two-year-old Sierra. She first came to get a pregnancy test at the age of 18 and has been coming ever since.
Unlike Grimes, Newbatt is with the father of her child and was excited about being pregnant, however, the financial impact of having a family was a worry.
“I came here to get clothes and formula and diapers.” Now, with Sierra flipping through books and playing, she says “I’m in here all the time. It is something to do.”
A third woman chooses to remain anonymous.
She is a young professional with children but shares how at the age of 19 she became pregnant and had doubts as to whether or not to keep the child.
“I was not in a good place in my life. Julie (centre executive director Julie Goodwin) kind of counselled me through that and gave me good advice. She told me that there was support in the community.”
The woman decided to have the child. She came to the centre before and after the birth.
She said there was physical support in the form of formula and diapers, as well as emotional support via counselling, and just “someone to listen.”
She was also encouraged to go back to school.
“I’m glad I did what I did. The centre definitely changed my path and set me in the right direction.”
The woman said the centre is “a really good resource” in an area known for poverty, as without it “a lot of children might go without.”
“Definitely just the love and support they offer … you come here and feel so loved and so empowered.”
Celebrating the fulfillment of a vision
Executive director Julie Goodwin said the centre is celebrating 10 years of fulfilling its vision and commitment “to be a supportive presence and resource” in the county “to those affected by an unplanned pregnancy and its realities.”
She said the staff and volunteers care deeply about the well-being of the women they serve.
With assurances of confidentiality and a non-judgmental approach, she said that trained peer support workers “come alongside each woman where she is at” providing emotional and practical support during what can often be a challenging, confusing, lonely, and even frightening time in her life.
Goodwin said centre staff encourage clients to take the time to explore their available options so that they can make an informed decision.
“This is done by providing up-to-date information about the options of parenting, adoption and abortion procedures and risks. Because the centre’s staff uphold the value of the sanctity of life, the centre does not make referrals for abortion. The centre is not an adoption agency, but the staff can arrange referrals to adoption agencies.”
Goodwin said the staff are there to be a supportive and compassionate presence for clients, through listening, post-abortion support, personal and practical support and ongoing encouragement.
She added that the peer-based support that is provided is not intended as a substitute for professional counseling.
Additional free services and resources available include pregnancy tests, information about sexually transmitted infections, formula, baby and toddler diapers, clothing and other supplies. Clients can also be connected to other community resources to meet their specific needs, such as midwifery, dental, housing, legal, etc.
Further, in response to the need for supportive mentoring for dads as well as practical homemaking coaching for moms, the centre now offers a 12-week nurturing father’s program and a 12-week home with a heart program.
Goodwin said another reason to celebrate during this 10th anniversary year has been the expansion and renovation of the centre to now include a classroom/meeting room, client computer corner, kids’ zone, laundry room, private support room, large meeting area, clothes closet and more.
The centre is a Christian organization which is a registered charity that does not receive any government funding. Consequently, the expansion and renovations were done by the centre’s team and many people donated time and talent, furnishings and décor, and money to move the plan from simply being a dream to becoming a long-awaited reality, Goodwin said.
“As the centre moves forward into its next 10 years of serving Haliburton County, it is the desire of the team and its many supporters, to continue to honour and affirm the lives of parents and children,” she said.
LISA GERVAIS is the editor for The Highlander.