Pregnancy Care Center celebrates 10 years of ministry

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By Greg Summers

Nothing happens by accident.

In October 1996, several Lancaster women ended up with each other’s phone numbers after attending a baby shower sponsored by Charlotte radio station WRCM (New Life 91.9) at a pregnancy center in Rock Hill.That was no chance meeting, said Amy Vincent, director for the Pregnancy Care Center.“A few of them knew each other and started talking among themselves about how they’d like to have a ministry here to reach out to women who were in unexpected pregnancy situations,” Vincent said. “Pregnancy is supposed to be a happy time, but it’s not always that way when it’s unplanned.”The women set up a steering committee to start the leg work that led to the “pink house on South Main Street” opening its doors.That pink house that Vincent calls a “house of love” has reached a landmark this month, celebrating 10 years of ministry.“What we struggle with 10 years out, is letting people know the scope of what all we do,” she said. Vincent said the center’s mission has always been to empower and educate women who find themselves with an unplanned pregnancy about their options, including adoption. “I think it’s important to say we don’t perform or refer for abortions,” she said. “At lot of women don’t even know that an abortion is a surgical procedure and what it entails. We want them to be aware of the physical risks, along with the emotional and spiritual risks.”Vincent said the center’s staff doesn’t judge anyone who walks through the doors. It has four part-time staff members; Vincent, an administrative assistant and two paid peer counselors.There are also four volunteer peer counselors and five who help with a boutique and newsletter.The center is open 20 hours a week. In 10 years, Vincent said the center has served more than 3,500 clients. In 2007, the center saw 458 clients.So far this year, it has ministered to 504 women, including 83 new clients.Vincent said statistics show that 75 percent of the women who come into the center have been sexually abused. Seventy percent of the Pregnancy Care Center’s $80,000 annual budget comes from donations by 10 of the county’s 270-plus churches and individuals. The other 30 percent comes from fundraisers like an upcoming limited seating banquet, a golf tournament, a walk and “baby bottles” placed at area businesses.“There is no government funding whatsoever,” she said. “We run a pretty well-oiled machine as far as being good stewards with what we’ve been blessed with.”It’s services include free pregnancy tests, counseling on pregnancy options, a baby and maternity boutique, discipleship Bible study, a 24-hour hot line and an abstinence education program that Vincent said has been “well received” by the local school district. There is also a “Baby Steps” incentive parenting class where clients earn points to buy items in the boutique. It is also affiliated with Care Net, as well as other local assisting agencies.“The nice thing is we will minister to a women while she’s pregnant to the time the baby is a year old,” Vincent said. “We not only assist with emotional support, but with practical items, too.“People think we use graphic photos, or try to coerce them, but we don’t,” she said. “We take the biblical approach of loving them and caring for them. Nobody is comfortable when they are forced into something out of fear. We try to share the facts and truth in love.” Take a client Vincent calls “Krystal,” who found herself in circumstances she never thought she would be in.Krystal, who was in her early 20s, was about to tell her mother that she was pregnant. Vincent said the mother had just learned that Krystal’s brother’s girlfriend was expecting, too.Given that, Vincent said Krystal, who lived in Columbia, made an appointment at a Charleston abortion clinic and went. However she changed her mind and left after a technician made an ultrasound of the baby that showed Krystal was in the 11th week of pregnancy.Vincent said Kystal then made a second appointment to have an abortion before the first trimester ended, but she was too sick to go.“That’s when she remembered the little pink house on South Main Street,” Vincent said. “She called information and they were able to help her figure out the hot line number and where we were.“This is an operator who’s not from here and knows nothing about Lancaster. That’s no accident,” Vincent said. “That’s God.” Vincent said even if a client opts to have an abortion, they are still welcome.She said most post-abortive women don’t realize the emotional impact it has six to 10 years later because their bodies have blocked the experience out. She said statistics show it leads to relationship problems, eating disorders and depression.“Even though we don’t personally feel that it’s the best decision, we are still concerned about the woman,” she said. “That’s the message we want to get across. Most Christian women know that God forgives them, they just can’t forgive themselves. We tell them that Jesus wants their hearts to dance again.”