Parents facing unintended pregnancies are finding hope and help at Alabama pregnancy resource centers.
Sav-A-Life is known for providing pregnancy tests, sexually transmitted disease testing and ultrasounds which are credited with saving thousands of unborn lives annually. Pregnancy resource centers also serve parents through education programs.
“One of the criticisms of a pregnancy resource center is that we just get them to keep the baby and then turn them loose and they’re on their own,” said Lisa Hogan, executive director of Sav-A-Life centers in Vestavia and Fultondale. “Nothing could be farther from the truth.”
The Birmingham area Sav-A-Life centers also serve expectant parents through education programs such as The First Nine Months and The Gift of Birth.
The First Nine Months helps parents know what to expect and be better prepared for the baby to arrive, Hogan said. For each session, participants earn “baby bucks” to spend at the center’s baby boutique, and by the end of the class the expectant mothers earn car seats.
“Everything is priced very reasonably,” Hogan noted. “There are clothes, diapers, bath items, health and safety kits, shoes, books, toys — just about everything you would need for a child up to three. All of those are donated, new or gently used.”
A class called The Gift of Birth is for women in their late second trimester, and it’s one many hospitals teach to prepare parents for childbirth, breastfeeding and beyond. The class meets four nights, and for a fifth meeting the resource center partners with a local church to host a baby shower for up to 10 mothers at a time.
Help for mothers
“We have a class called Mommy and Me designed for moms of toddlers up to age three, and they learn to bond with their babies and toddlers, and they build community among other moms who have children of similar ages,” Hogan said. “In that class they sing, tell Bible stories, read books and do crafts.”
In the Earn While You Learn Program, mothers can meet one-on-one with mentors to discuss topics of their choice, including breastfeeding, practical parenting and life skills.
At Mom’s Night Out and Dad’s Night Out, Sav-A-Life provides a meal and an hour of classes guiding participants in their parenting journeys.
“One of the things we try to do with every class is introduce a spiritual component,” Hogan noted. Typically a mentor or teacher will spend the last 10 minutes of each session talking about prayer requests and how God has answered.
“A lot of times that serves as a reminder that God is in the mix and God is at work in their lives. Our mission is to share the truth of God’s word with them,” she explained. “The way we do that is to address the physical need and ultimately get to the spiritual need as well.”
Origins of a movement
The original Sav-A-Life center started in downtown Birmingham in 1980 as a place where women could go to feel safe and cared for when they found themselves facing an unplanned pregnancy. After that, several centers using the same name opened throughout the state with a similar goal, though they operated under different leadership.
Two years ago the original center, which moved to Vestavia in 1997, merged with the Fultondale center, and soon a third will open in Crestwood under the same umbrella.
“We’re going to absolutely need some more people who are willing to volunteer,” Hogan asserted.
The centers are staff-led but volunteer-driven, she noted. Volunteers include receptionists, the first people the women encounter; client advocates who talk with them one-on-one and even some of the medical professionals.
Each Sav-A-Life center leads volunteers through an application and training process so they are well-prepared for the task at hand, she said.
“We have need for what we call one-on-one mentors. If you would like to establish a relationship and have a consistent opportunity to speak into someone’s life, then that’s a great opportunity for you to get involved.”
Sav-A-Life also needs board members to spread the word about the ministry, as well as churches to host baby showers. They use volunteers to work in the boutiques at both locations, processing donations, packaging diapers and arranging items.
Sav-A-Life also cares for women who choose abortion, offering a post-abortion recovery program.
“That’s one of the most precious programs we offer because we see the transformation of a woman who is hurting from a past abortion as she goes through that study and finds healing and restoration,” Hogan said. “It’s one of those hard things for women to step up and do, but it’s a powerful study that is extremely important to what we do.”
She estimates that last year more than 450 abortion-minded women entered either the Vestavia or Fultondale location, and like most years, about half chose life for their children with the support of volunteers. Save-A-Life serves more than 4,000 clients in its two centers each year and nearly 2,000 new parents per year through education programs.
For more information, visit savalife.org.
Share with others: