ST. GEORGE – On Sunday, Hope Pregnancy Care Center, located at 391 E. 500 S. in St. George, celebrated Sanctity of Human Life Sunday by opening its doors for tours and informational presentations to the community and supporters of the organization.
Sanctity of Human Life Sunday was first signed into existence by a proclamation from President Ronald Reagan in 1984 as a day to celebrate the intrinsic value of human life. The proclamation was reissued annually throughout Reagan’s presidency, George H.W. Bush’s presidency, lapsed during Bill Clinton’s presidency, resumed annually under George W. Bush’s presidency, extending to 2009, and has since lapsed under Barack Obama’s presidency.
Sanctity of Human Life Sunday is still recognized by people nationwide. It is typically held on either the third Sunday in January or the Sunday in January that falls closest to the Supreme Court decisions of Roe V. Wade and Doe V. Bolton, which were handed down on Jan. 22, 1973, ruling state anti-abortion laws unconstitutional and thereby legalizing abortion with some limitations.
Hope Pregnancy Care Center opened its doors in 2005 to reach out to women who were struggling with an unplanned pregnancy. The goal of founder Merry Jo Cook was to provide practical physical support to those who had nowhere else to turn during their time of crisis. Hope is a life-affirming crisis pregnancy center, meaning they neither perform, nor refer clients for abortions.
The center is funded by private donations, fundraisers, two small grants and profits earned from the Hope Chest Thrift Store. It does not receive any government funding.
Since its opening, Hope has offered resources extending from crisis pregnancy intervention to abstinence education in local high schools, abortion recovery counseling and a place for expectant dads to receive one-on-one mentoring from one of its male client advocates.
“We have seen 957 clients since opening in 2005,” the center’s director, Jessica Blevins, said. “We give out an average of 15,000 diapers per year with a grant from the Salvation Army,” Blevins said.
At Sunday’s celebration, attendees were able to visit three different mini classes to hear more about the types of volunteer opportunities available at Hope.
The classes included positions as board members; client advocates, who work directly with women facing an unplanned pregnancy; fatherhood 101; Hannah’s Boutique, where clients can “shop” for baby items using credits they’ve earned while participating in the Earn While You Learn program; abstinence education; The Hope Chest thrift store, located at 74 E. Tabernacle, which helps to support Hope Pregnancy Care Center; PACE (Post-Abortion Counseling and Education), which takes women down the path to recovery from a previous abortion experience; clerical help and church representation opportunities.
“We normally host an open house at Hope to celebrate (Sanctity of Human Life Sunday), but this year was a little different,” Blevins said. “We also included a time for interested volunteers to attend eight different workshops where attendees received a brief explanation of the different programs at Hope. We repeated the workshops three times so that participants could get a feel for at least three different programs,” she said.
Hope’s abstinence education program, “Why Not?” is presented in the health classes of all of Washington County’s high schools, as well as one high school in Iron County.
“‘Why Not?’ is designed to educate and encourage students regarding abstinence or renewed abstinence, empowering them to choose (abstinence), not because we told them to, but because they desire it for themselves,” said Amy Fox, Abstinence Education Coordinator for Hope.
“By the end of the 2013-14 school year, we will have spoken to nearly 2,000 students,” Fox said. The response from students regarding the program has been overall positive, she said.
The Sanctity of Human Life event was very well attended. The staff at Hope is hoping to glean some new volunteer support from it, and are very grateful for the positive response they received from the community.
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Written by Rhonda Tommer, St. George News
Hope Pregnancy Care Center | Telephone 435-652-8343 | 391 E. 500 S., St. George
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