NEWARK — The Knights of Columbus gathered at the Newark Elks Lodge on April 11 were in good spirits, and they had good reason to be cheerful.
The Knights recently funded the purchase of a new ultrasound machine for CareNet Pregnancy Center in Newark in the hopes that the machine will help the center’s staff save babies from being aborted.
"My heart overflows with gratitude for what God has done through people that love him and want to serve him," the center’s executive director, Pat Bailey, said on April 11 when she was presented with ceremonial checks totalling $28,000.
Members of the Knights of Columbus Newark Council 897 raised half of that money, and the remaining $14,000 came from the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council, which has a matching-funds program to help Knights councils purchase ultrasound machines. More than 300 ultrasound machines have been purchased through this program since it was launched in January 2009, according to Arthur Harris, a Rochester Knight and a supreme director on the Knights’ Supreme Council’s board of directors. Eight of those machines are in New York state, and councils within the state — including a council in Horseheads — currently are raising money to buy three more machines, he said.
"These machines have been very helpful for the cause, and I know your machine will be, too," Harris said at the April 11 celebration.
Newark’s CareNet Pregnancy Center provides free pregnancy tests and free ultrasound exams to women who think they may be pregnant, Bailey said. An ultrasound exam is intended to confirm a pregnancy and show the woman that there is a life growing inside her, she noted. Frequently a woman, especially if she’s pregnant for the first time, will be very surprised to look at the screen and see a baby moving inside her, she said.
"They can’t say it’s a blob of flesh when they’re seeing a baby there," she added.
The center desperately needed a new machine because its seven-year-old machine had been on the fritz for several years, Bailey explained. Recently the center’s staff has only been able to use its current machine on one day a week, and they consider themselves lucky if they can get the machine to function properly for two or three scans, she said.
This is not good enough, she added, because the center’s staff likes to be able to provide ultrasound exams for clients the same day they take their pregnancy tests. Pregnant women, even those considering abortion, usually are willing to have an ultrasound if they can do it the same day. They’re less receptive to the idea, however, if they have to come back another day, particularly if they’re already leaning toward having an abortion, she said.
"If they really are focused on getting an abortion, that’s when you lose them. We pray that we can preserve life by showing (the women) life right away," Bailey said.
Bailey said the center’s staff hopes to be able to operate the new ultrasound machine four days a week. Technological advances have been made in the last seven years, so the new machine has more capabilities than the current one, she added. One of these is the ability to successfully take a clear scan before a woman reaches her seventh week of pregnancy. The current machine technically works if the mother is seven weeks along, but sometimes — especially since it’s been malfunctioning lately — it isn’t very effective until the woman is eight or nine weeks pregnant, Bailey said.
"That’s terrifying, because if you get an abortion-minded client in the ultrasound room, that’s not showing them anything," she said.
CareNet Pregnancy Center does not receive any government funding and relies on contributions from individuals, churches and organizations who believe in CareNet’s mission to preserve life, so the center runs on a tight budget and could not afford to purchase an ultrasound machine without outside help, Bailey said. The members of the Knights of Columbus Newark Council 897 — and in particular the council’s financial secretary, Jim Wilhelm — worked very hard to raise the $14,000 necessary to qualify for the Supreme Council’s matching program, she noted.
The Knights conducted two or three road tolls in Newark and Lyons, which entailed standing in the street with buckets and asking passing motorists for donations, Wilhelm said.
"The public gave generously, and that was the visibility we needed to gain momentum for our vision," he added.
The road tolls helped make the public aware of the campaign, and that awareness generated additional contributions from individuals and organizations, noted Richard Bogan, grand knight of the Newark council and chief of the Lyons Police Department.
"We had a few bumps and detours, but God is so faithful. We never lost sight of the fact that it was God’s work and he would support us in what we set out to do," Bailey said.