By Karen Ingle
Dan Mohler knew there had to be a better way to serve the women of Cecil County, Md. Far too often, when his pregnancy center’s phone rang, a woman on the other end said, “I can’t come in today. I don’t have a ride.”
The Cecil County Pregnancy Center is located in Elkton, on one end of the largely rural county. The six-member staff and 11 volunteers serve women often living in poverty, compounded by rampant use of heroin. These women needed their help. However, limited public transportation kept that help just out of reach.
Could the pregnancy center move closer to those women? Board member Art Johnson says, “We didn’t have the capital to open a new office and staff it.” Johnson says the center’s ultrasound machine was already “making a big difference in what people decided to do.”
But women needed more than ultrasounds. Atira Nuzzo, Life Affirming Specialist at the center, remembers one client who “would not even look at the sonogram machine.” However, Nuzzo says the client later said she was glad “I had shared [my] testimony with her that was so non-judgmental. . . She appreciated that; she loved that we were so loving and non-judgmental to her.”
It’s women like this Mohler and his team have been dedicated to reaching, even as obstacles to transportation add an additional layer of difficulty to accomplish that goal.
Then, a conversation with a pastor opened up a window of opportunity.
“I asked the pastor at the [United Methodist] church in North East if he’d be interested in having a center there one day a week,” Mohler said. “He was very interested. So that’s where that started. And when I was up in Rising Sun, I bounced that off a pastor [at Janes United Methodist Church] there and he was very interested. It really was just touching their hearts’ desire to reach the people in their area.”
“It was the generous hearts of the pastors of these two churches as well as the hearts of their parishioners to reach out to their communities to provide this critical service,” Mohler said. “The churches are covering the costs of the staff person providing the services, so this expansion is not costing our center anything.”
In addition, each church is donating office space within their own buildings. One church is even adding a new bathroom for the satellite office.
“Janes United Methodist Church is trying to do everything we can to help our community,” Pastor Drew Christian said. “We are excited to help the CCPC because of the great work they do. We don’t want to just be about writing checks, but want to be involved. This is one way we can closely connect to a wonderful organization who is obviously doing God’s work.”
The new satellite office at Janes UMC in Rising Sun began operating May 20, 2016, offering education, pregnancy tests, and diapers every Friday from 10 am to 3 pm. The same services will be provided through the satellite office in North East every Thursday from 10 am to 3 pm, beginning July 7.
The main office in Elkton will continue to offer its full range of services, including ultrasounds, Mondays through Wednesdays. Mohler says most clients’ desire for an ultrasound is “usually… a strong enough need that they’ll figure that [transportation] out.”
And now, women in Cecil County who need other important pregnancy services will find them much closer to home. All because two churches made room to put help within their reach.
Editor’s note. This appeared at Pregnancy Help News.