For women in even the most stable and supported environments, pregnancy can be a scary time. There are so many new “feels,” so many considerations, and so many changes – physically, mentally, financially. For low-income women finding themselves newly pregnant and without a trusted means of support, Pregnancy Care Center (PCC) can quite literally be a lifeline.
With three facilities in Massachusetts (Haverhill, Lowell, and Lawrence), PCC is a Christian nonprofit that works with women who are facing unplanned pregnancies and who often feel alone and overwhelmed. Understanding that their clients can be at an emotional and physical crossroads, PCC Client Advocates are very sensitive and holistic in their work. “From the moment a woman enters any of our facilities, we ask about her and we focus on her care,” says Francine Aimone, PCC’s Community Development Manager. “Through time, she comes to know, feel, and understand that she is cared for and loved.”
The Catholic Health Foundation supports PCC with a grant that allows them to meet clients where they are at – and where they are at is online. Because many women in unplanned pregnancy situations turn to the internet for information and options, PCC is targeted in its marketing approach to reach women online. Because of the CHF grant, it has invested in a Google advertising campaign that promotes accurate information and, hopefully, interrupts a woman’s search for abortion methods. “We can tailor our approach and our wording,” Francine notes, “to help women understand they have choices. The abortion pill is marketed like an aspirin for a headache, not considering the woman’s health or the life that she is carrying within her. So when a woman searches for things like ‘a free pregnancy test’, ‘abortion pill’, or ‘abortion near me’, etc., our Google ad appears and encourages her to call and talk to someone at PCC before making a decision. We have seen great conversion rates and results.”
Mentors play a critical role at Pregnancy Care Center. They are generally retired women who seek to give back to their communities. However, college women also volunteer as mentors. They serve an important role since many of the younger clients feel comfortable relating with someone their own age.
Both client advocates and mentors agree that the ultrasound machines (donated by the local Knights of Columbus) are true game changers to the Center. “The ultrasound room has become a sacred space,” notes Francine. “Once women hear their baby’s heartbeat and see the image of their baby, their pregnancy becomes more real, more personal to them.”
CHF Funding helps bring more women into the centers, which is proving significant. “We know from experience that if we can meet face to face, provide an ultrasound and discuss support, there is a chance the woman will decide to parent. Once that decision is made, we walk with her, lifting her up in love, providing everything she needs for her new baby and celebrating the new life she is carrying. We support our clients until the baby is a year old and sometimes longer.”
Last year, PCC served 412 unique clients through 1,200 visits. They provided nearly 700 bags of high protein food and over 340 cans of baby formula, along with 1,100 maternity outfits and outerwear, 2,400 baby outfits and layettes, and 14,000 diapers to mothers and their families all free of charge.
“In our work, we are gentle, understanding, and we lean into God’s mercy,” Francine shares softly. “We are helping to change and save lives, support new families, and plant the seeds of faith.”