Its stated mission is to edify, enable, encourage and equip pregnant women and their families to make wise, God-honoring decisions.
That’s what Theresea Clement and the rest of the staff, volunteers and board members of the Choices Pregnancy Center in Marshfield hope to accomplish. Clement serves as the executive director of the center.
"We opened in October of 2012," said Clement. "We actually had our first meeting like 18 months before that. We had our first banquet in September before we opened in October of 2012, so we've been open for seven years, but we’ve had eight banquets, which we think is pretty cool."
It started with Lisa Keeler, the founder of the Choices Pregnancy Center. She made some calls to get people to come to the meetings. According to Clement, there were several who attended the first meeting, and from that, they had meetings once a month until they really got going. The center is now located at 1350 Spur Drive, Suite 160, Marshfield.
"We looked at several buildings before we actually ended up here," said Clement. "We just felt like this is where the Lord would have us be for the time being. Then we had a board training, where several of us attended that, and we chose our steering committee out of that board training."
The center provides free services and more to women and families, including pregnancy tests; pregnancy and parenting education; community referrals for medical, adoption and financial resources; long-term client care; maternity and baby resources; and post-abortion recovery. There are also free, limited ultrasound screenings for women. The process provides valuable visual and audible insight during early pregnancy and is available after a pregnancy test has revealed positive results.
"We have trained ultrasound technicians," said Clement. "We do limited ultrasounds, so we don't do ultrasounds through nine months of pregnancy. We do them up to 14 weeks."
Clement said sometimes they will have trainings at the center. An ultrasound technician who has worked through the hospital for 20 years comes once a year to conduct a review training with their nurses. Since the tests are limited, Clement noted they don’t do gender reveals, but only screenings to show the mother a live baby heartbeat and determine how far along she is.
In July, the Choices Pregnancy Center started a father’s class to educate men about parenting and other resources they need. Clement said it’s a way to encourage men to come into the center with their partners.
"A young man who came to our center was the reason we started these classes," said Clement. "When he came in here, he was disabled from an ATV accident when he was 13, so because he wasn’t able to work out, he was going to take care of the baby while his wife was at work. He was so worried about holding the baby because he didn’t have use of one of his arms."
Clement said they encouraged him that it would all come together, and he started attending all of his wife's classes at the center. He asked if they had anything that focused on men, so that’s when Clement decided to do a father’s program.
"We have had a few men come in since then," said Clement. "That’s kind of how it got started."
Other classes include prenatal care, parenting, infant care, nutrition, relationship building and how to make healthy life choices. All of the classes are done by video instruction, according to Clement.
"Individuals have homework with their classes," said Clement. "We also offer optional Bible studies. They do that and bring it back the next week. That’s how they earn their points."
By points, Clement means the point system that the center does with their clients. They can earn points by walking through the door for their class (40 points). Each class has homework with it, so clients can earn points that way. They can also take the optional Bible study class.
"If they do both of those, they are 20 points a piece," said Clement, “20 for the homework, 20 for the Bible study. If they attend a church service and bring a bulletin or write something the pastor spoke on, they can earn 10 points. If the father attends, they can earn another 10 points. They can earn up to 100 points a week."
With their points, clients can use them in the maternity and baby market, which includes diapers, baby formula, toys, clothes and other items. All of the items are donated by community members and local organizations. The only thing the center doesn’t accept is car seats or baby beds, unless they’re brand new in the package.
"We have lots of people who make baby hats and blankets," said Clement. "We do a little free box if we get overrun with stuff."
As far as what item they need more of in the center, Clement said they always need more boys clothes and items. She said people bring diapers and love to buy them, but that’s something they always can use, even when they get stocked up.
"Our clients come every week and almost every client will take a package of diapers and a package of baby wipes," said Clement. "We go through a lot of those, so they’re able to use them. We don't really turn away anything. We got places to go with stuff if we’re really overstocked."
As a center, their goal for the last two years has been building and finding a new place, according to Clement. She said their hope is to find a bigger place and provide more resources to their clients.
"We're looking to find a place to build," said Clement. "We're not sure yet what the Lord has for us, but we know he has something. It’s just not quite in his timing. It's working, but when you have 16 clients coming in at a time, it gets tough. You have a parenting class and then you have an abortion-minded client walks through the door, you need to be able to go in a private room with them and it’s not so private in here. We definitely want to have more room."
Currently, there are 12 volunteers and 10 of them mentor with clients, including the male volunteer who sits with their fathers. Clement said they can always use more volunteers to help out. Those interested in volunteering or want more information can contact Clement at the Choices Pregnancy Center at 468-5555.