Pregnancy center tries to keep up with demand - Catholic Courier

Pregnancy center tries to keep up with demand

Mary Jost and other sidewalk counselors who pray and offer pro-life information to those who leave and enter the University Avenue Planned Parenthood in Rochester didn’t intend to start a pregnancy center five years ago.

They were simply looking for a place to store supplies, use the restroom and talk privately with young women in crisis.

"We would do what we could do out on the sidewalk but we wanted to talk to the girls longer," said Jost, a parishioner of Our Lady of Victory in Rochester.

Since opening in one room at 86 University Ave., Focus Pregnancy Help Center has grown to four large rooms, including space for gatherings, counseling, paperwork and material aid.

"We haven’t even had time to digest the growth," said Jost, the center’s president and codirector.

Although the growth has brought increased rent for the center, it also has helped it keep up with growing demand. The center gives out baby clothes, nursery items, books and small toys, diapers and baby wipes, formula, baby cereal and jars of food, and nonperishable food from the food shelf. The center also accepts such larger items as strollers, high chairs, bassinets, cribs and car seats, as long as they have not been recalled.

The nonprofit center survives on the financial and material donations of a network of supporters, many who are informed through e-mail of its news and needs.

"When I say, ‘I need a stroller,’ or, ‘I need a double stroller,’ I get a response," Jost said.

Pregnant women who visit the center often leave with their arms full of pamphlets, DVDs and baby items. The center also collaborates with other area pregnancy centers; for instance, it sends young women to another center for ultrasounds.

The center’s vice president and codirector, Martha Malone, recalls helping to convince a young woman not to go through with an abortion by reciting a powerful poem.

"It was the Holy Spirit," Malone said of why she was able to help the young woman.

The pregnancy center informally keeps track of how many women tell them they have decided not to abort — they say they know of at least 36 babies. They also make follow-up calls to see if the new moms and mothers-to-be have all the items they need. The goal is to help women realize that there are alternatives to abortion.

"They are desperate, and no one reaches out," said Malone, a parishioner of St. Theodore in Gates.

Jost and Malone love to tell about the babies born to their clients.

"They are in our hearts," Jost said. "We don’t let them go."

EDITOR’S NOTE: To get involved with Focus Pregnancy Help Center, call Mary Jost at 585-200-9477 or visit www.rochesterprolife.org.

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