November 24, 2017

Expansion is ‘a huge, huge blessing’ for Lawrenceburg pregnancy care center

Kristi Potts, executive director of Pregnancy Care Center of Southeast Indiana in Lawrenceburg, discusses the agency’s baby store of donated items, where young women can earn credit for the store by completing educational sessions. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Kristi Potts, executive director of Pregnancy Care Center of Southeast Indiana in Lawrenceburg, discusses the agency’s baby store of donated items, where young women can earn credit for the store by completing educational sessions. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

LAWRENCEBURG—Two things are consistent as Kristi Potts shows off the expanded Pregnancy Care Center of Southeast Indiana facility: her beaming smile, and her praise of God.

“We’re in a unique situation here in southeastern Indiana,” says Potts, executive director of the Lawrenceburg organization which serves Dearborn, Franklin, Ohio, Ripley and Switzerland counties. “We are the only medical pregnancy center for these five counties.

“In the last five to six years, we’ve just had tremendous growth in size, in reach, in services and the number of clients we’ve been seeing.”

But, she says, with only 1,500 square feet, “we were very limited in space, which limited our number of services and the number of clients we could serve. … When the opportunity for the space next door came up, God just made it all happen.”

Reach more, serve more, save more lives

The 28-year-old organization had been in a commercial building for about 10 years. They were not looking to expand.

But in the spring of 2016 when the space adjoining the pregnancy care center became available, says Potts, their landlord hoped the organization would be able to lease it.

Their landlord is Don Townsend, owner of Townsend Properties, Inc., and a member of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Parish in Aurora along with his wife, Carolyn. Both are supporters of the pregnancy care center.

“I can’t talk highly enough of them,” he says. “Where else can a young girl and her boyfriend or husband go [in the area] and seek counseling and get help for nothing? I’m very, very proud that they are a tenant of mine. It’s the biggest blessing we have in [the area].”

Potts, 35, said the board met, looked at their budget, prayed—and decided God was calling the center to expand.

The project was completed in January of this year.

“Donors and construction companies from the area funded everything you now see,” says Potts, while providing a tour of the expansion. “It doubled our space. It was a huge, huge blessing. … Our whole motto for this expansion project was to reach more, serve more, which would equal more lives saved.”

An alternative to providers who offer abortion

Among the new features which will help accomplish the goal of saving lives are an additional counseling room that doubles the number of clients able to be seen, an extra bathroom for pregnancy testing, and a new conference room that allows for group-style classes and events with speakers.

And with the expansion, the center is able to offer two new services: testing for sexually transmitted diseases for both men and women, and a men’s mentoring program.

“Our goal is to reach those women and men who are most at risk for an abortion, but it also helps address the sexual health concerns maybe before they even end that unplanned pregnancy,” says Potts. “We consider it not just, ‘Let’s just reduce your risk and give you condoms or birth control,’ but ‘Let’s eliminate that risk and say you’re worth it, and that God has a plan for your life, and that there is a better way out there.’

“We also know that providing relevant medical services, things that men and women in our community are really needing, they’re going to see us as a provider of those kinds of services and care instead of other providers that might be offering abortion services.”

As for the men’s mentoring program, says Potts, “We can’t forget how important that father is in that child’s life. If we only focus on the woman and her abortion decision and forget about him, then we just missed a big piece of that puzzle.”

That puzzle includes more than assisting pregnant women and mentoring men. The pregnancy care center also offers an abstinence education program in local middle schools and high schools, substance abuse education and referrals to community resources.

With the new space and the existing and new services, the pregnancy care center is growing. The number of clients seen so far this year exceeds the number of clients seen by this time last year.

‘A lot of hopeful stories’

Nestled within the five-county area the care center serves is All Saints Parish in Dearborn County. The faith community, like many others in the area, supports the organization.

“The parish has been just imperative for us to do what we do, very influential and just great doers in the community,” says Potts.

Two women of the parish are particularly involved at Pregnancy Care Center of Southeast Indiana—client services director Jennie Chafin and board president Teresa Ward.

“I just love this ministry,” says Ward, 62. “This is the most compassionate, loving place. Everyone who walks through those doors is welcomed and made to feel loved. They’re given hope.”

While she has been president of the board for the last several years, Ward has volunteered with the organization for 12 years. She worked with clients who participated in the center’s earn-and-learn program where, by attending education classes on such topics as childbirth, breast feeding and healthy relationships, women can earn points to spend in the organization’s baby store of donated items.

“I have seen a lot of hopeful stories,” Ward says. “The earn-and-learn programs are so important. It helps the girls know that they can take care of a baby. They’re learning new thought processes and breaking that cycle [of the environments in which they were raised].”

Chafin, 33, agrees.

“A lot [of the women who visit] have grown up in foster care, so haven’t had a stable home life,” she notes.

Through the nearly 30 volunteers Chafin coordinates and the nearly 100 types of classes she organizes, “We work with them through the pregnancy and after the baby comes, connect them to other resources, and make it a healthy and safe pregnancy for the baby and them,” she says.

‘It’s his ministry, not ours’

All Saints Parish is not the only Catholic community supporting the pregnancy care center. In August 2014, Lawrenceburg Knights of Columbus Council #1231 donated a new ultrasound machine to the facility.

“We had this archaic dinosaur of a machine,” says Potts, who is trained to use the equipment. “We didn’t have the budget for a new machine.

“The day we got the call that we’d been approved [to receive the new machine from the Knights of Columbus], we were in tears and just praising God!

“It has completely transformed our ministry. It really seals … that this is not just a blob of tissue as [they’ve] been led to believe. This is a baby, and there’s the heartbeat.”

It is through the generosity of organizations and individuals in the community that the pregnancy care center is able to operate, says Potts. But there is one other key factor.

“Our doors would not be open without God. It’s his ministry, not ours,” she notes.

The centrality of God to the organization comes through in its mission, which Potts says is “to use our services and our skills and our different opportunities to educate [the clients] and empower them to choose life for their baby.

“It’s our mission to share the Gospel with every man and woman that walks through our door, because we do want that young woman to choose life for her baby, but we know that the only thing that’s going to stop that cycle of whatever it is that’s led her down that path is going to be God.

“Sharing our faith with our clients is our number one mission. We hope by showing her love and compassion that she chooses love and compassion for her child.”

(Pregnancy Care Center of Southeast Indiana, 62 Doughty Road, Suite 5, in Lawrenceburg, is currently in need of medical volunteers, diapers, baby wipes, baby formula and financial donations, which can be made online at Checks can also be made out to Pregnancy Care Center SE and mailed to 62 Doughty Road, Suite 5, Lawrenceburg, IN 47025. For more information on the pregnancy care center, its services or needs, contact Kristi Potts at 812-537-4357.)

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