Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sponsor us!

Check out our Walk for Life sponsorship website here.

I went into Life Network yesterday for my Walk for Life volunteer training. I'm working a registration table at the walk next Saturday morning. I was a bit nervous when I saw the calculator sitting at my training table...I did tell them that math is not my strong suit, didn't I? As it turns out, as long as I can add up a few easy numbers and smile at the same time I should excel at the job of registration volunteer. I'm actually not confident that I can use a calculator while smiling, but I'll do my best.

After training, I had a chance to go for a casual tour of the Life Network building. I already had a positive image of Life Network because of their great reputation in our community, but touring the building gave me a much better idea of the impact they're making in the lives of so many people every day. We first saw the Education for a Lifetime area of the building. Having been a presenter for a similar program, I was excited to learn about Life Network's education program and asked far more questions than was probably appropriate. This is the program that runs in our high school health classes for three days every year. About two days of the program are spent on character education -- teaching kids that it is okay to respect themselves and others and what that looks like in a situation where they're feeling pressured to do something that they don't want to do. That could be using drugs, drinking, having sex, driving dangerously, stealing...the list is endless. One day of the program is taught by either a staff nurse or the staff adolescent gynecologist (what a sad title). The nurses and doctor cover STD's -- what they look like, how they're transmitted, what measures of protection work from which diseases, and how to best protect oneself (abstinence, obviously). Education for a Lifetime also used to run a program at Ft. Carson, educating all of the incoming soldiers about these same topics. Unfortunately, grant money for that program ran out and they can't afford to be there any longer. Very sad.

The next section of the building was the pregnancy center. This is where women (and sometimes their partners) come for pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, counseling, and free maternity clothes, diapers, formula, and baby food. Women are counseled about their options if they need help deciding how to deal with their pregnancy. They are given all of the facts about abortion (including information about the procedure and about post abortion syndrome) as well as the names of local adoption agencies in the cases of women who are considering adoption. Women even in their first trimester are offered a free ultrasound, after which about one quarter choose to have an abortion and three quarters choose to carry their pregnancy to term. The staff member who was showing us around the building told us about a young teen who had come to the Pregnancy Center for a pregnancy test and counseling. She decided to go through with an abortion on a Friday and the following Monday was sitting on the Pregnancy Center's front steps waiting for the center to open. The first staff member who found her wrapped her in a hug as the girl told her, "You guys are the only people who loved my baby." She was in tears and devastated. She had been pressured into an abortion by her parents, boyfriend, and friends. They had, essentially, chosen for her rather than leaving the choice up to her. She knew that the Pregnancy Center was the one place where she was loved and treated with respect, so she came back seeking that love and consolation.

The last part of the tour was the Life Steps section. I think that's what they call it -- I can't remember for sure. Anyway, this is a program with a capacity for just over 100 pregnant women at a time. They are given opportunities to take parenting classes, childbirth classes, classes on how to recognize different types of abuse in their children, nutrition, how to install a carseat, and other classes offering them the life skills required to raise a child successfully. As the women attend classes, they receive points that they can use in the baby store. The baby store is a bright, happy, cheerful place where hundreds of new and very gently used baby outfits hang, baby toys crowd the floor, quilts made by members of the community pile up in the closets, and baby accessories fill the drawers. The women in the program use the points they earn from taking classes to buy stuff for their expected baby. The program is always full and always maintains a waiting list of women who would like to take classes and use the store. Unfortunately, there's just not enough room to accommodate the need in our community.

These programs are what Life Network is all about. My fear is that when friends hear that we're walking for Life Network, they'll think we're in some sort of ultra-right-wing organization that bombs abortion clinics and hates that women have a right to choose abortion. That's not it. This is an organization that loves women and wants them to have an opportunity to respect their bodies and their emotions. It's an organization that wants women to be totally educated so that whatever choice they make, they don't regret it the next day or years later. The staff there is so loving -- the love oozes out of their pores. I was there on a tour without any clients around and still felt accepted and loved and like part of a great community. This is why we're walking for Life Network -- because all women deserve to feel that way.

If you can, we'd love you to sponsor us. I'll be volunteering at the walk, so Scott is our official walker. You can sponsor him at this website. We hope that you will stand with us in supporting Life Network!

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