Let me take you back in time for just a minute. It was Valentine's Day four years ago and my last day at a job I loved! What better way to say goodbye than on Valentine's Day. I loved the people and miss them, but something happened that I could not ignore anymore. I could not ignore a calling, a purpose, and a passion to pay it forward. It was a leap a faith, but one I will never regret. Let's Celebrate together! We hope you enjoy our first blog post and a flash back on the last four years.
It seems like yesterday that I was walking in the doors for the first time as the Executive Director, I was a stranger to most of you. But each year flies by as I celebrate 4 years with you! By my second year at the Pregnancy Resource Center (PRC), I felt as if I was among friends. Friends with a shared purpose, with arms linked and hearts connected as we carry out this wonderful work of saving lives and strengthening families right here in our community.
If I had to summarize my first year as Executive Director in only one word, I would choose "learning". The learning will never end, of course. These first four years have been enlightening. I came from outside PRC, so it was only natural that I would have some preconceived ideas. But I believe that being open to new ideas is key to serving well and leading well.
So I thought I would share three insights with you from my last 4 years:
1. Accomplishing the mission takes all of us.
PRC truly is a tapestry of talents and treasures that brings beauty to the lives it touches. It takes all kinds of people using their gifts to make us what we are.
It all starts with the staff - 5 (soon to be 6) unsung heroes who make it happen every day at the Pregnancy Resource Center. They answer phones, run pregnancy tests, plan events, track the finances, clean the toilets - and a whole lot more. I appreciate each one of them, and I'm so proud of the way they serve our clients and our community. The work they do is rewarding, but it isn't easy. But even on the hard days, when the opposition is fierce, they remember that babies - and families - are always worth the fight.
But as vital as the staff is to PRC's mission, they only make up about 10% of the team. That's right. Ninety percent of our team consists of dedicated volunteers who work in all kinds of capacities for NO pay. Just last year we had 43 volunteers give close to 3,000 hours. That equals to about $71, 218.79 of donated time.
I think about:
- the receptionists who answer the crisis calls
- the RN's who perform life-saving ultrasounds
- the advocates who mentor young women and men
- the educators who teach them a better way
- the lovely ladies who maintain our database
- the fun groups who address and stuff envelopes
- the college kids who help with the walk and banquet
- the handyman who repairs leaky faucets and builds walls
- the church members who bake or paint or whatever else we need
- the men who drive our MMU
What impresses me most about our volunteers is their commitment to the cause. Many of them have a personal connection to the mission - sad or sweet stories that compel them to help our clients through their own tough times. They inspire me. And did I mention they don't get paid?
Then there's our faithful Board of Directors, whose wisdom and support these past four years have been invaluable to me personally and to the organization as a whole.
I also want to commend our elected officials and community leaders. Their advocacy allows us to live out our faith for the good of our fellow citizens. The mere fact that so many of them attend our events demonstrates that we have solid support, for which we are so grateful.
And then there's you - our partners who pray fervently and give generously. I don't know if you realize that our funding comes from donations from individuals, families, churches and businesses. Ultimately we know that God is the rightful CEO of PRC, and you are the real owners - a truth which, I assure you, is not lost on me. Your willingness to stretch financially and partner with us means that every dollar you give saves lives. But sadly, the opposite is also true. If we don’t raise the money, lives are lost. So call it cliché, but without you, there can be no Pregnancy Resource Center.
Week in and week out, as I see God provide, I am humbled and grateful for the part each of you plays in helping us remain spiritually strong and financially sound. As much as I wish we didn't have to even think about money, the reality is that ministries have bills to pay too. And without margin, there can be no mission.
So thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
2. Pregnancy Resource Center is much more than meets the eye.
I think it's safe to say most of the community knows we provide free, confidential pregnancy testing and ultrasounds. They know we exist to provide such an important service. That's all true, of course. But what many don't realize is that those services only scratch the surface of what we do. Test results offer basic answers to tough questions: Am I pregnant? How far along am I? And that's where we need to start.
But answering questions doesn't solve problems. And it doesn't change lives. What we know is that unplanned pregnancy is often just a symptom of deeper issues. Many of our clients have experienced childhood abuse and generational family dysfunction.
They may be dealing with:
- domestic violence
- inadequate education
- mental health problems
- unemployment or
- a host of other challenges
So spitting out test results and sending them on is not helpful. But there is a better way.
Instead of force feeding solutions or sugarcoating circumstances, we lead with compassion. We enter into each unique situation - the shock, the shame, the fear, the chaos. Whatever our clients may be facing, we are committed to walking with them every step of the journey.
Loving our clients right where they are is no small thing. It's everything.
Yes, we want them to choose life for their children. We want them to experience the reward that can only be found in affirming what God created. But our dreams are even bigger than that! We want to be the catalyst for cultivating families that flourish, families who commit to doing life together through thick and thin.
A community is only as strong as its weakest members, and we see that our efforts to educate and empower young people are making a difference. We offer one-on-one coaching where our clients work through current challenges and set goals for the future. But we also teach classes each Tuesday evening that are open to anyone - not just our clients - on topics including:
- communication and commitment within relationships
- money management
- basic parenting skills
But as much as we do, PRC alone can't meet all the needs. That's why we rely on our community partners to complement what we do. Just to name a few, we work with:
- OB/GYNs who provide prenatal care,
- substance abuse programs that address addictions
- a domestic violence facility that shelters women dealing with violence and
- agencies that facilitate adoption
These relationships allow us to remain focused on our part of the process and know that our clients are receiving quality, compassionate care from our partners too. Just imagine with me a community of healthy families where generational cycles of abuse and addiction have been broken, where fathers stay engaged and where children feel safe and loved.
Wouldn't we all want to live in a place like that? Well, that is exactly the kind of impact we all can have - and are having - here in Maryville and surrounding counties in Tennessee. It's not easy. But it is possible. The very core of the Pregnancy Resource Center vision states this. Our vision is to have a community where every life is sacred, valued and welcomed.
3. Our impact is immeasurable.
I like outcomes that can be measured. And yes, I like numbers. But not for the reasons you may think. I like them because, as I recently heard a successful businessman say, "Numbers are just stories about people."
I love that because it reminds me that measuring only matters if there are beautiful stories to be told.
So just recently, we said we were celebrating a huge thing - 94% life decisions. But what we were really celebrating is the immeasurable impact of 950 God-authored stories of children and the parents who chose them, of chaos redeemed, of panic turned to peace, of shame giving birth to the joy of parenthood and the innocence and mystery that God packs into these tiny people who are so fresh from Him.
Whenever I'm asked in interviews what Pregnancy Resource Center's community impact has been and continues to be, I proudly announce to them that I have no idea! Not because I can't run reports and analyze statistics, and not because I'm unprepared for the question. I have no idea what our impact is because it is impossible to calculate the contribution of even one human life, let alone multiple thousands of lives.
When I think about the the impact since the inception of the Pregnancy Resource Center in 1986 that is over 25,000 moms, dads, babies - many of whom are now adults - born into the PRC family, and all the people they have touched, their:
and the list goes on...It is truly beyond comprehension! A generational impact!
But as heartwarming as these stories are, there are more to be told. It’s true that we are reaching many young people facing an unplanned pregnancy. But we aren’t reaching them all. And that breaks my heart. We have a HUGE vision!
But we can’t expand our reach without the resources to put those plans into action. That’s where you come in. Thank you for being such a significant part of the Pregnancy Resource Center's legacy. Thank you for stepping up big time and investing in PRC. And thank you for helping to ensure that saving lives and strengthening families is always and forever why we are here.