Permit me to nudge aside some of the end-of-year charitable appeals in your inbox in favor of this: a reminder of some of the great agencies in New Hampshire that specialize in supporting women who are pregnant in challenging circumstances.
You’ll find pregnancy AND parenting support at these agencies, any of which would be very happy to receive your support as a donor or a volunteer.
This link offers contact information for every organization listed here. If you are aware of any updates, please let me know – thank you! Several of these agencies have Facebook pages with frequently-updated information about current needs.
Birthright has offices in Manchester, Derry, and Portsmouth.
New Generation in Greenland provides shelter for homeless pregnant and parenting women. In addition to having volunteer and donation opportunities for supporters, New Generation has its Second Generation Thrift Shoppe to provide an easy way for you to support the ministry.
Our Place, a ministry of New Hampshire Catholic Charities, supports young parents from pregnancy through the first three years of their child’s life.
When you look for local agencies that make a difference in the lives of New Hampshire families, be sure to keep these in mind.
The Pennacook Pregnancy Center in Manchester recently hosted a representative from Save the Storks, who brought along a “Stork Bus” to demonstrate the organization’s mobile ultrasound units. Save the Storks has facilitated the purchase of 22 mobile units by pregnancy centers around the country and expects have another 18 in action soon.
Representatives of Manchester-area human services agencies were among the visitors who came for a look at the bus, which is a 24-foot vehicle designed as a mobile pregnancy center. “It’s not a converted RV,” said Michael, the Save the Storks representative. “Everything is for the comfort of the mother.”
A pregnancy center operating a Stork Bus can park it near an abortion facility, providing a highly visible opportunity for women to obtain no-cost sonograms. Staffing – one counselor and one sonographer – is the responsibility of the local pregnancy center.
No Stork Bus purchase is in the offing for the Pennacook Pregnancy Center, but the Save the Storks visit gave people a chance to see what a mobile unit might look like.
The interior of the bus on display was remarkable: an ultrasound unit with a large display screen for the sonogram, exam table, private bathroom, private counseling area, audiovisual equipment, even a small refrigerator. The exterior was “wrapped” with a Save the Storks promotional message; each center operating a bus chooses its own exterior design.
The investment for a Stork Bus is substantial. Michael of Save the Storks told me that his group can help local pregnancy care centers find grants, but it’s clear that a center wanting a bus would have to do a lot of fundraising on its own. It’s possible for several agencies to cooperate in the purchase and operation of a bus.
“Four out of five women receiving ultrasounds in these buses choose life for their babies. It used to be three out of five,” said Michael. “Prayer is what we need the most. God does the rest.”
There’s a page on this blog under the “Links” tab that doesn’t get much traffic, but it’s too important to take down: “Crisis Pregnancy Resources in New Hampshire”. “Crisis” doesn’t really reflect the ongoing assistance these agencies provide long after a crisis point is passed. I might have to change that page title.
I know many of my readers already support these pro-life ministries. Others may be looking for new ways to get involved. This is for you.
I’ve heard from two of these agencies in recent weeks about volunteer and donation needs. Where can you help?
From Pennacook Pregnancy Center in Manchester, 603-206-5306: Their number-one need is volunteers who can commit to a three-hour shift one day per week. A minimum of 15 hours of in-house training is provided. Pennacook Pregnancy Center will also provide training for sidewalk counselors; contact the center for more information.
Also from Pennacook: “Diapers, wipes. baby clothes and accessories are always appreciated.” I’ll take the liberty of saying that’s true for every center listed on the resources page.
From Birthright of Manchester’s latest newsletter: “As a new venture…individual parishes have been holding Diaper Drives for Birthright! These drives have proven to be very successful and defray the exorbitant cost of purchasing diapers.”
What do you say to a Mother’s Day flower sale? That’s a Birthright fundraiser. Look for volunteers outside your church on May 8. Want more information about setting up a sale at your own church? Go back to that Resources page and phone your nearest Birthright. Even if it’s late to plan for this year, Mother’s Day will be back next year – and so will Birthright.
Birthright of Manchester’s wish list is probably similar to what other pregnancy care centers are looking for: baby wipes & baby wash, crib sheets in neutral colors, receiving blankets, onesies, socks, sleepers, play outfits (Birthright Manchester is looking for sizes 3-9 months; clients at your nearest pregnancy care center might have different needs), disposable diapers (especially sizes 1-5), and new or gently used spring and summer clothing for children through size 3T.
For any center: can you answer phones? Sew, knit or crochet layette items? Do you have medical, legal or educational expertise that could benefit centers and the clients they serve? Would you like to learn what it takes to be a board member? Call a pro-life pregnancy care center near you and ask about volunteer opportunities.
When you contact a pro-life pregnancy care center, ask to be put on their email contact list and make sure you know if they have a Facebook page. Those are the best ways to stay abreast of urgent needs and scheduled fundraisers.
I’m haunted by something I was told by a pregnancy care center director recently: “kids aren’t being read to.” Books for pre-schoolers will not go to waste at a center that helps support young parents. Our Place (with three New Hampshire locations) has an annual project that’s dear to my heart, collecting children’s books late in the year for distribution to clients at the agency’s Christmas party.
No need to think that a donation has to be big to be helpful. A baby shower can be as simple as meeting a few friends for coffee, with each person bringing a baby item to be delivered to a pregnancy care center. Yes, I’ve done this. It’s simple, it’s local, and friends with coffee are involved. What’s not to like?
No one can do everything; everyone can do something. Thank you for all you do, now and always, to make it easier for people to choose life.
This has been reported elsewhere, but in case you’ve missed it, read this and consider participating, and then pass it on.
The Manchester 40 Days for Life campaign has a donor who will give a dollar to Pennacook Pregnancy Center for each hour covered by a 40 Days for Life participant on the sidewalk outside Planned Parenthood on Pennacook Street. The donor will also match other donations to PPC during this time up to $10 per hour.
The vigil hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily through March 20, which could bring more than $300 to PPC. Anyone who has worked for a pregnancy care clinic knows that such agencies know how to stretch a dollar.
So how about it? Learn about the 40 Days for Life campaign in Manchester, learn about the Pennacook Pregnancy Center, and then sign up for an hour or two. Better yet, share this news with your area pro-life group, perhaps at your church, and round up people to sign up with you. Peaceful, prayerful, productive: a good way to spend some time.
CareNet volunteer Karen Colageo was the featured speaker at the closing gathering for Manchester, New Hampshire’s 40 Days for Life winter campaign. She’s been a post-abortion counselor for more than a decade. “I’m here to speak about abortions, not ‘abortion.’ Specific events. Private, emotionally wrenching experiences. The stories you need to hear are the individual testimonies.” The abortions she experienced herself were an important factor in her eventual work. “My heart is with the woman who has had an abortion.”
Colageo is married to a local Lutheran pastor, and her post-abortion-counseling work includes use of a Bible study called “Forgiven and Set Free.” Does that put off some of the women she tries to reach? “It grieves me, really, when nonbelievers avoid the program because it’s a Bible study.” She described one such woman who gave the program a second look after she was unsatisfied with other attempts at post-abortion counseling. “She came back to me and said ‘I’ve tried everything else; what have I got to lose?'”
Several years after having her abortions, she bore a child whose arrival nudged open a spiritual door. “I had a beautiful baby girl. Despite what I had done, God had entrusted me with a beautiful child, an unmerited gift.” Coming to terms with her earlier abortions was a gradual and difficult process, and Colageo is frank about the religious dimension to her healing as she realized she had taken the lives of her other children. Through her involvement in a church community, she learned about CareNet and sought counseling there, her first encounter with the “Forgiven and Set Free” program. “Finally, someone allowed me to grieve, and applied the healing words of the Gospel to my open wounds. We learned to pray with David [Psalm 51]: ‘a broken, contrite heart, O Lord, you will not despise.'”
She fully accepts the estimate that one in three women will have an abortion by age 45. “Be careful what you say. There are a lot of broken women out there. Condemnation does no good. Women must be saved as well as children. We cannot forget that.” She says about her work, “Women need to know their abortions can be forgiven. They can turn death into life. I’ve seen truly broken women come alive.”
The evening’s gathering also served as a baby shower for four area agencies serving pregnant women and young parents: Birthright, CareNet, the Pennacook Pregnancy Center, and Our Place.
The next 40 Days for Life campaign is scheduled to begin September 23.
Nicole Varasteh, M.D. E. Kolb photo.
Jane Cormier, NHRTL President (E. Kolb photo)
Gifts collected at the 40DFL baby shower will go to four agencies in Greater Manchester.