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There are many things we take for granted in December: holiday celebrations, family and friends surrounding us, the abundance of food and gifts and all our needs met. But we know that that is not the case for many of our clients.
Brittany is a single mom with two children, ages 18 months and 3 years. She had planned to come to the Christmas party at our Morrisville center, as she needed many things for her children. However, on the day of the party she had car issues and couldn’t make it. Her parenting class mentor called her to see what her needs were and made up a generous package of clothes, toys, diapers, wipes, and some party food and delivered them to her and her children later that day. This is the message Brittany sent to us afterwards:
“Thank you SO SO much for everything! Honestly one of the best things I've ever done as a mom is become a part of the Care Net program. I wish I could give back more, and I wish I could come more often. My life is always so busy and crazy. But all of the knowledge I gain from the Care Net program really has helped me. As a mom and as a person. I am beyond words grateful. All of the clothes were beautiful that you picked out for the kids. Thank you so much! I have been wanting a jean jacket for Laura for so long. It is perfect! And those slippers are too adorable; she didn't have anything like that at all. The quality of everything was amazing, the desserts were delicious. And they actually needed more kitchen stuff for their kitchen set my mom got them. So that's perfect. I got everything I wanted, needed and more thanks to you. Thank you so much and I hope you have an amazing Christmas!!”
After hearing about Care Net as a teenager through friends that became our clients, and accompanying some of them on their visits, Ebony, now in her mid-twenties, had made an appointment for herself. She chose Care Net because from her interactions with us while coming in with her friends, she felt “… the people are great and non-judgmental.”
Ebony was only 15 when she first suspected she was pregnant. She was told to have an abortion by most of the adults in her life, especially her boyfriend’s parents. “They didn’t want their son to be bogged down by having a kid and paying child support.” Support she never receives!
Two of the biggest challenges she had were getting the items she needed, like diapers, and finishing her education. Ebony was determined to finish high school and wanted to attend college. Her aunt offered to watch Ebony’s child while she was in school. To make ends meet, she mowed lawns and did other odd jobs. She took parenting classes at Care Net where she earned material aid items. And when she turned 17 she took a part-time job at a local retail outlet.
Now with two children, Ebony’s challenges did not deter her from obtaining an education. Although it was a tough road to provide, parent, and take classes – in 2016 she earned an Associate’s Degree in Science from MVCC and now attends SUNY Polytechnic Institute. She also gives back to the ministry that helped her by volunteering in the material aid room at Care Net.
Three months into their relationship, Kelly took a home pregnancy test which confirmed her fear. A college student working toward her Master’s Degree, she knew abortion was out of the question. Arik had other thoughts.
Arik was also working toward his Master’s Degree. He had never heard of Care Net, nor knew a place like ours existed. He assumed she would have an abortion and they would move on with their lives and studies. Kelly didn’t agree.
Having heard of pregnancy resource centers through the Pennsylvania church she grew up in, Kelly found us on the internet and suggested they come to Care Net first. In hindsight, Arik says it was “the best decision we could have made.” After seeing their child during an ultrasound, he became conflicted over the options they faced. He expressed remorse for even thinking about aborting their now one year old daughter, Haidynn.
Telling their parents was a challenge. The fear of upsetting them and the damage it might do to their relationship weighed heavy on Arik and Kelly’s mind. To their surprise, they didn’t react the way they expected. Arik’s parents were supportive of choosing life and offered to help in any way they could. Kelly’s dad had just passed, and her mom was overwhelmed with one more thing to deal with. But those feelings were short lived and within a short period of time Kelly’s mom became equally supportive.
During the months that followed, Arik and Kelly enrolled in our Earn While You Earn program to develop their parenting skills. Arik said, “… it was a big confidence booster for me.” As the relationship between Arik, Kelly, and their Care Net mentor grew and developed, the couple became open to the idea of including Bible study as part of the program. Kelly had Baptist roots but hadn’t attended church or read a Bible since leaving for college. Arik had never opened the pages of Scripture and was drawn to its life giving message. Not long after he received Christ as his Savior and was baptized on Mother’s Day.
Arik, and Kelly have since moved. By the time you read this, they will have finished their Master’s Degrees, married, and be forever grateful they came to Care Net. As for their daughter, Haidynn, she is being raised by two great parents and probably won’t be an only child for long.
Martin has been coming to Care Net for a few months now. He had heard that Care Net offers free diapers and material assistance. He is a single dad who has been out of work for some time due to an accident and was struggling financially. Martin began taking the fatherhood classes at Care Net, and he immediately bonded with his male mentor. He needed to take extra classes to save up points for a highchair for his daughter, so he began doing Bible Study classes even though he was not a Christian. He really seemed to enjoy the classes and even agreed to try out a local church service. He left the service with many questions.
When he came back to Care Net, his mentor helped answer those questions and was able to lead him in a prayer of salvation. Martin’s whole countenance has changed and he is getting plugged into a local church in his area. He credits Care Net with being the caring and compassionate help he needed to not only provide for his daughter, but also in helping lead him to Jesus.
Chrissy called Care Net wanting to know if we had any information on adoption that we could share with her, as that's what she was leaning towards. The staff who answered the phone gladly told her some info about adoption and wanted to schedule an appointment for the following day to have her come in and discuss it in detail. Chrissy decided that she needed answers today and told the staff worker that she would just get an abortion today instead of "making this pain and confusion last any longer ." Immediately, the staff started talking to her, asking questions, loving on her and tried to get to the bottom of why she thought abortion was now the best option. Through tears, Chrissy explained she just couldn't bring a baby into this situation and she has two other children to think about. She felt so pressured to make sure she didn't take anything away from her other two children, and that if she just had the abortion, she could go on continuing to care for her kids and not have the burden of raising a new baby in the environment she was at.
The staff was able to make an emergency appointment for an ultrasound that very day. Chrissy was able to get in to have the scan and even though she was still very early, she was able to see her baby on that screen. Seeing her baby's heartbeat on the screen changed her heart. She couldn't imagine an abortion after seeing that her baby was in fact, a person. The staff talked with Chrissy and explained all of the help and services that Care Net has to offer her, she wouldn't be alone. Chrissy told the staff after she left that, for once, she felt hopeful.
Melinda came to Care Net wanting to keep her baby. She got the test, and even came for a few classes. One day, Melinda came in just beside herself with confusion, grief, and uncertainty. Melinda cried, now considering abortion because she could no longer handle the stress, pain and negativity from her ex, her family, and everyone around her. She was being repeatedly shamed and humiliated, told that she isn't mother material, that shes ruining the lives of her other kids by bringing another child into the world, and that she would never amount to anything because this child would hold her back. The staff comfoted and encouraged Melinda, reassuring her that she is so much braver, stronger, and capable than she gives herself credit for. Melinda was encouraged, but still unsure about what to do.
She stayed for an ultrasound to confirm how far along she was. The scan confirmed that she was a lot further along than she thought. At 14 weeks, Melinda saw that bouncing baby with arms and legs and fingers and toes; jumping up and down, rolling around, playing with its fingers and sucking its thumb. Melinda was in complete awe of what she was witnessing inside of her body. She laughed and cried and prayed with the nurse. When she left the center that day, the staff followed up with her a few hours later. "It is unbelievable. I seriously had no idea that was what was happening inside me!! That baby has fingers and toes and a nose and body and everything! I had no idea...I am in complete awe of what that baby is already doing! Thank you for revealing the hope I needed to continue with this pregnancy." Melinda has since continued to come to the center for parenting classes and is thankful for all of the support she has received.
Debbie had just recently given birth when the Covid-19 virus struck. She was home alone, struggling with breastfeeding, but refused to go to her scheduled follow up doctor’s appointments due to fear. It was then that she remembered Care Net. In high school, Debbie used to help out at the center bundling diapers and cleaning. She decided to reach out and see if we could help her during this hard time.
The counselor informed Debbie that Care Net is offering parenting classes virtually that she can take and complete the worksheets via her phone. These classes can help her with the issues she is facing, and help her earn ”boutique bucks” that can be used to get diapers, wipes, clothes and other things for her baby, just by doing the lessons. But most importantly, Debbie was thrilled at the uplifting conversation and mentorship she received with the Care Net counselor over the phone. She credits Care Net with helping to calm her fears, and helping her learn how to be a mother during this challenging time.