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The PRC implements Adopt-A-Mom Outreach Program

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Funds donated to the Pregnancy Resource Center of the Park Rapids Area are used to purchase things like clothing, blankets, diapers and other necessities to mothers and their children. (Submitted Photo)2 / 2

The Pregnancy Resource Center (PRC) of the Park Rapids Area was established in 1996 with a mission to affirm the value of human life by offering support to those experiencing pregnancy and family-related stress or hardships, and yet according to Client Services Director Candace Reams, most people in the area don't even know they exist.

"In an ideal world we wouldn't exist. The reality is that people need help and we just want to close that gap," Reams said. "We're like a sleeping giant, we have so much to offer and so much to give to people like love and support and prayer and resources and filling a material need."

Her role as the Client Services Director is mainly to listen, counsel and to help mothers see their pregnancy through to full term.

The PRC offers free confidential pregnancy tests. They supply their clients with information about adoption, parenting and abortion risks and procedures.

They also have referrals for treatment centers, Social Services, Mahube, WIC and other community resources on hand.

"We're not a clinic," Scott Stewart, executive director of the PRC said, adding that they do not prescribe birth control or perform medical procedures, however they do have an ultrasound machine located at Erickson Medical Clinic.

According to Stewart, a common misconception is that the staff at PRC just want to convince someone to have their baby and send them on their way. But the reality is that they continue to work with people after they give birth.

"We like to try to help the mother the baby and the family as a whole and if they come through the door looking for something, when they leave, has their day gotten a little better? Has their load been lifted a little bit? Is there hope at the end of the day?" he said. "We don't proselytize here. You don't have to be Christian to come in here, you don't have to convert. That's just where our hearts come from but we don't want anyone to feel intimidated by that."

The PRC teaches L.I.F.E. Classes, offering both a regular curriculum and a faith-based curriculum teaching important life skills such as how to buy a car or rent a house, meal planning, prenatal classes up until birth, breastfeeding classes or the correct way to swaddle a baby.

Anytime clients take a class they earn points, each point is equivalent to $5 cash value to obtain things like strollers, high chairs, breast pumps, diaper bags, etc.

"Everything is free for them but they do have to dedicate the time," Reams said, adding that it's an incentive for the parents to educate themselves. "The curriculum that we have to offer is really informative. It's really about being able to educate them and give them the foundation that people care about them and to give them every opportunity to be more successful in life."

Through their Material Assistance Program, the PRC distributes maternity clothes as well as baby clothes and supplies like blankets or formula, for example.

The majority of the items are donated items that have been cleaned, folded and put into inventory to be given to clients that need assistance, there is no charge or commitments for anyone seeking help.

The majority of their clients are ages 20 to 25, the second largest age group they serve are mothers between 26 and 30 and their third largest group are mothers 19 and under. According to Stewart, not all of the clients are single moms, roughly 60 percent of their clients are married or in committed relationships.

"One of the largest things we do is our Material Assistance Program," Reams said. "I was a client here for a long time and I have a husband who loves me and we work and we have a happy little family but sometimes we just needed help with diapers."

The bulk of the people the PRC provides services to are families with young kids and women who just had babies or are expecting. They are actively seeing at least 25 to 30 clients on a regular basis and in addition, people will also stop in randomly seeking assistance.

Last year, they had over 260 visits from people, 36 of which were new visits.

"There are plenty of people who need help in one format or another, we're here to help in any way we can," Stewart said. "It's one more outlet that affirms that life is important."

According to Stewart, 50 percent of their funding comes from private donations, half of that is from their annual fall banquet. The other half is through a state grant called the Positive Alternatives Grant.

The PRC's new Adopt-A-Mom Outreach Program gives the community an opportunity to anonymously sponsor an expecting mother and her family.

The sponsorship would require a 12 month commitment and a minimum donation of $25 per month. The funds would go through PRC, Reams would discern each mother's individual needs and the supplies would be purchased for the adopted mother.

It is an anonymous sponsorship unless both parties were interested in knowing each other.

"Adopt-A-Mom is a chance for people to become more vested in someone," Stewart said, adding that the sponsor may say that they want the funds to go toward formula, or diapers or even gas money and the funds could be allocated as the sponsor requested.

"A lot of people are really willing to volunteer their time and resources and serve in any way they can," Reams said. "But I think a lot of people may just be unaware of the most effective way to do it, so this may be a good way for those individuals who don't have the time to give."

Ideally the PRC would like to put the mother on the program while she is pregnant in order for her to receive assistance during the pregnancy and after the baby is born.

"That's to help be a part of that whole journey of carrying the baby, having the baby and then helping out the first year or so when they could really use the help," Stewart said.

"I brought up the idea to some of my girls and it brought them to tears. If people were willing to give in a monetary way I understand just how much that could help," Reams added. "We have a really great community of people that want to help. It is a really great place to succeed, people really care about seeing you successful."

For individuals interested in sponsoring an expectant mother through the Adopt-A-Mom Outreach Program, contact the Pregnancy Resource Center located at 200 Sixth St. W in Park Rapids by calling 732-5212.