Pregnancy Center in process of facility expansion, new services

Sean C. Morgan

The Sweet Home Pregnancy Care Center has been busy over the past year, routinely assisting mothers and parents, adding a new ultrasound program and purchasing the building where it has operated for many years.

Some $1,600 in funding awarded in April by the Sweet Home Community Foundation for the PCC’s Baby Safety Project is paying for baby safety equipment and to expand the organization’s parental instruction DVD library, two key operational components of its mission.

The gear includes car seats, cribs, mattresses, “pack and plays,” strollers and vitamins, said Director Karen Bostrom.

“Our parenting classes are one-on-one, and they’re a video format,” Bostrom said. The PCC wants to expand that video library.

The PCC assists 110 to 120 adult individuals each year, Bostrom said. Most are single parents.

“If they need help with stuff, they can come in to do parenting classes,” she said. In exchange, the PCC gives them supplies, like diapers, and equipment, like car seats.

“Our services are free and available to everyone,” Bostrom said, noting that a large number of clients are struggling. Some are homeless, living on the street or living in multiple-family households. Many clients need the assistance.

The Pack ‘n’ Play playard, a portable device that can be used as a crib or playpen, is useful for many of those clients, who may sleep in different locations every few days, she said. It’s safer for the babies than sleeping on the floor or a couch.

Clients “earn” what they need by participating in parenting classes, Bostrom said. The classes address a variety of topics tailored to the client’s needs. A client may be a 20-year-old woman with a 3-year-old and a new baby, a pregnant teenage girl or a single father.

“It might just be their first baby, and they don’t know what to expect,” she said. Information is available about child birth and delivery, and ranges from pregnancy through the teenage years, with topics ranging from feeding and nutrition to discipline.

“(Parenting) is a challenge,” Bostrom said. “I’m a grandmother, and I learn stuff from the videos. Even with people that have kids, we have different videos that give different approaches.”

Children are all different, she said. What worked with one child may not work with another. The parenting library provides resources, knowledge, to those who need them.

“Everything they’re watching is educational,” she said.

The PCC is funded by donations supplemented by grants, Bostrom said. It is operated by an independent board of directors and is affiliated with national pro-life organizations.

“We are a Christian organization,” Bostrom said. “We do want to encourage life.”

Encouraging someone to carry a child while they cannot buy diapers is a problem, she said. That’s where the PCC comes in. The clients take ownership, educating themselves in exchange for supplies. “It’s not just a handout.”

The PCC’s mission “is to bring help and hope to women of all ages who are pregnant or parenting. Our purpose is to provide compassionate help, Biblical truth and life-affirming resources as it relates to pregnancy, parenting, sexual integrity and abortion recovery.”

The PCC operates with a two-person staff, Bostrom and Karlene Stutzer.

In 2016, according to the organization’s Form 990, the PCC had $50,000 in revenues with $84,000 in expenses, with $175,000 in assets. That tax year was unusual for the PCC, as it purchased its building, 1344 Main St., which had been owned by the late Ozzie Shaw. In 2015, it had $28,000 in expenses and $43,000 in revenues.

“We do operate in the black,” Bostrom said. “We feel like it’s the Lord’s money, and so we use it wisely. We feel it’s valuable to the residents in this community to have these resources available.”

With the purchase of the new building, the PCC will be rearranging its office this summer. Previously, it used rooms in the back of the building, but the purchase has made street-facing front rooms available.

First up will be new flooring in the front offices of the building, which have been vacant for years. The PCC’s offices will move to the front part of the building, while the current facilities in the back part of the building will be used as resource rooms.

“It’s an old building,” Bostrom said. “It needs a lot of work.”

Meanwhile, the PCC has expanded its services in cooperation with the Pregnancy Alternatives Center, 136 W. Vine St., Lebanon.

An ultrasound van is regularly stopping at the PCC on Mondays. The program will cost the PCC $6,000 per year.

“We’ll help pay for the nurse and the driver for the van to come out here, hopefully one day a week,” Bostrom said.

The van was purchased for the purpose of making the equipment and personnel available in outlying communities, she said.

“It has been our director’s goal for 28 years to have Linn County be abortion-free,” said Kay McCammon, the nurse who staffs the van.

The PAC in Lebanon has ultrasound available, but the cost of getting there can be an obstacle to many pregnant women, McCammon said. “It saves the people a trip. It’s in their own community.”

When clients come in, they’ll be able to get a pregnancy test, Bostrom said. That can be followed up with an ultrasound.

“It verifies a viable pregnancy,” she said.

The mobile unit launched last month and is visiting Sweet Home, Brownsville, Jefferson and Scio. It also provides limited testing for sexually transmitted infections – for gonorrhea and chlamydia, the most common STIs.

Ultrasounds are reviewed by a physician, she said.

Some 20 percent of pregnancies will end in miscarriage, McCammon said. Most of those occur early in a pregnancy.

Most women see their doctor around the 10th week of pregnancy, she said. This lets them look earlier than that.

“Determining whether you have a viable pregnancy is important,” she said, particularly when considering potentially dangerous surgery.

“If we can show life, it helps a woman realize what her choices are,” McCammon said, and then the PAC and PCC can connect them to resources for help.

Mothers often respond to the ultrasound views by starting to take vitamins and changing behaviors – eating better or quitting smoking or drinking for example, if they understand that behavior might impact their babies, Bostrom said.

“It’s pretty amazing when you see the baby moving and kicking, sucking their thumb,” she said. “That really helps the mom connect with the baby. It’s more likely they’ll start taking care of themselves.”

For more information about the PCC, its programs or the ultrasound van, call the PCC at (541) 367-2447.