By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published October 25, 2012
Leaders at the Advice and Aid Pregnancy Problem Center are weighing how to expand its services.
Two big-ticket projects are under consideration by its directors: opening a second office or purchasing an RV to serve as a mobile clinic.
What’s driving the discussion is the goal to reach women who cannot travel to the clinic and those who do not know about them.
“We are looking at branching out,” said Noreen Coughlin, the executive director of the Advice and Aid Pregnancy Problem Center.
“It’s bringing the program closer” to women in need, she said.
The Advice and Aid Pregnancy Problem Center has served women since 1984. Its clients are usually women who are poor. Some 300 women receive pregnancy tests from the clinic annually. Staff said more folks are turning to the resource center, which is an independent Catholic nonprofit. Attendance in parenting classes has increased 50 percent. And there has been a jump in the number of new mothers coming for help.
Coughlin said the board is leaning toward the RV option because it would travel around the metro Atlanta area, from the northern communities to the south side suburbs.
“We have to bring the help to them,” she said.
“I think it’s going to energize us and raise the profile of all pregnancy centers,” she said.
Chris Baran, the president of the board of directors, said the RV initiative fits the clinic’s mission.
Baran said the clinic’s focus isn’t limited to stopping abortions but “saving lives and also changing lives.” The clinic offers classes, from parenting to job preparedness, in addition to a “baby boutique” where expectant mothers can shop.
“If we don’t change their lives, there’s no break in the cycles, not just poverty but emotionally. And we want to change the cycle,” said Baran.
If one individual is changed at a time, eventually the nation’s culture will change, she said.
Baran said the RV would be a step toward the clinic’s vision of having pregnancy centers around metro Atlanta like “compass points.”
The RV could offer women free pregnancy tests, access to counselors and an ultrasound, operated by a trained technician.
Its success will depend on financial supporters, but also the many needed volunteers, from counselors to people to maintain the RV.
“While prayer is important, we still need soldiers on the ground,” said Baran.
There are different opportunities to make a contribution to the effort and “all go toward the greater good,” she said.
Either decision remains months away. Money needs to be raised first for the efforts. Baran said the clinic will depend on financial support from benefactors, such as the Knights of Columbus, the Knights of Malta, and individual donors. The estimate to get a mobile clinic on the road is more than $100,000.
Also, the women talked about the month of October, called “Respect Life” month by the church, from a pro-life perspective.
“Ministries like ours are making an impact. There is a bright, vibrant, uplifting effect that our ministries can have. There is positive change happening, there is a positive influence with our mothers,” Coughlin said.
Baran said the month is a reminder “for everyone to reflect on what that actually means.”
“It’s not just respecting life from conception, it’s through natural death,” she said. “People need to pray to change our culture. It is not just one month out of the year. It is a daily thing.”