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Spreading lots of hope

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By Kirsten Laskey

Anyone can get hit with unexpected news. It bolts down like a meteor and leaves you feeling dazed and powerless.

An unplanned pregnancy is certainly one of those pieces of news that can knock you for a loop. However, there is an organization in town to help those who are hit with this major surprise get back up on their feet.

Hope Pregnancy Center offers pregnancy tests, information on different options, parenting classes, community referrals, material assistance and follow-up care. All these services are free and confidential.

The center’s services are also in demand. The number of walk-in clients, for instance, has increased this year.

Hope Pregnancy staff is hopeful to expand their offerings to the community. Executive director Sarah Taylor said she would like to widen their focus to young men who are dealing with a pregnancy.

She explained men are something of an overlooked part of the equation when it comes to teen pregnancy.

What is needed to help start this and other programs, is support from the community.

Taylor explained the center is worth supporting “because of the confidential nature of our support service. We provide a safe opportunity for young people to deal with their issues in a relevant manner and get the support they need to make mature choices for themselves.”

Taylor added as she learns more and more about this community, she sees the importance of providing an avenue to talk in confidence to someone who cares.

During the Hope Pregnancy Center banquet, which was held on Nov. 7 at the White Rock Baptist Church, more than 200 people showed up to offer some assistance.  

County Councilor Vincent Chiravalle was the emcee for the banquet.

He said to the Monitor, “One of the reasons why I got into public life was to do things for people who are vulnerable and disadvantaged … it is a real blessing to have them (Hope Pregnancy Center) in the community and helping teen mothers who are really vulnerable and I think Hope Pregnancy Center reaches out to give them support … I think that is invaluable to give them support … I think pregnant mothers need to explore all their options.”

Chiravalle added the center offers ultra sound services to mothers, which can have a powerful effect.

After all, he said, children are a wonderful blessing.

Many others who attended the banquet shared Chiravalle’s sentiments.  

John Sullivan said he has been in town long enough to see children who were not aborted and grown up to be wonderful adults. “These were children at risk,” he said, “now they are talented and productive.”

Lisa Larson commented, “I think it’s important what they’re doing – showing the value of life.”

When it comes to the issue of abortion, guest speaker and co-founder of 40 Days for Life Shawn Carney said individuals can get caught up in the politics and lose focus on the humanity. It’s important to not lose focus because “it’s a local responsibility and it’s one we have to act on … there’s so much at stake,” he told the Monitor.

Carney said he wanted to participate in the banquet and show his support to Hope Pregnancy Center because it plays an important role in the community.

Some seem to take pregnancy centers for granted, he said, but thanks to the local community and Taylor, the local center is doing really well. Carney has a lot of experience in this particular field. He was named executive director of Coalition for Life at the age of 23. Since then, he has helped lead the first 40 Days of Life campaign in Texas. The initiative called for fasting and prayer to end abortion. The campaign started in 2004 but Carney has expanded the 40 Days of Life to 240 cities in all 50 states as well as throughout the world.

To learn more about the center or to donate to the organization, call 662-2300 or e-mail Taylor at S.Taylor@HPCLA.