By Ed Townsend
LIBERTY With half of all pregnancies in Sullivan County ending in abortions prior to 1999, several Grahamsville women have founded the Sullivan County Pregnancy Support Center, and already they believe their efforts have helped cut the local abortion rate in half.
These figures were made evident last week when one of the support centers founders, Jennifer Edwards, spoke before the November monthly meeting of J.O.Y. Ministries Inc.
Edwards said that the Pregnancy Support Center Mission Statement upholds the value of human life by befriending, educating, comforting, and supporting those with pregnancy-related needs.
She added that the center offers Gods love by proclaiming the Gospel of Christ and His plan for sexuality, marriage and the family to the community.
With a gentle, compassionate, and steadfast approach, we affirm the inherent dignity of all persons and provide support regardless of age, race, religious belief or marital status, the organizations mission statement says.
Edwards said that, prior to the formation of the Sullivan County Pregnancy Support Center, there was no central organization to face the existing problems and high local abortion rate but now we will fill the gap.
The Pregnancy Support Center, now a not-for-profit corporation affiliated with Care Net, has been in operation for two years and has an eight-member volunteer steering committee doing all the work at this time. Care Net is an international ministry of the Christian Action Council.
The services the center provides include free pregnancy tests, support and encouragement, ongoing peer counseling, maternity clothes and baby items, ongoing support and encouragement after birth and post-abortion support and peer counseling. Referrals are made for medical care, adoption and childbirth classes.
The Pregnancy Support Center will eventually be governed by a local board of directors and run by a paid director who will manage a staff of trained volunteers who will counsel with women, said Edwards.
The center is presently raising funds to meet a $50,000 budget which will pay for a director and rental of facilities in either Liberty or Monticello, along with telephone services, office equipment and supplies.
Edwards is also asking Sullivan County churches and pastors for permission to allow the center steering committee members to visit their church and/or parish.
Volunteer support is needed, and those interested can call 985-2329 or 985-2923 or write P.O. Box 233, Grahamsville, NY 12740.