Browsing through Missouri state’s annual abortion statistics for 2016, members of Warren County Right to Life noticed a disturbing trend: While abortions performed on residents of neighboring counties were on the decline, those performed on Warren County residents were on the rise.
Confused by the data, the group turned to prayer, asking God what he could do to respond.
The group’s word of prayer reached the ears of other community leaders involved in pregnancy aid ministries in the surrounding area, triggering a series of connections that would lead the group to open the door. Warren County Pregnancy Options Center, Missouri a year and a half later.
Beyond their expectations
Since opening in April, the center is the first of its kind in the town of Warrenton, a community just west of St. Louis, the location of the the last abortion center in the state.
Warren County Pregnancy Options Center in Warrenton Missouri | Courtesy of J. Chowning
The centre’s baby shop houses a range of material resources, from baby clothes to wipes and diapers. | Courtesy of J. Chowning
J. Chowning, who serves as executive director alongside his wife Hollie, the centre’s director of client services, was overwhelmed by the generosity and community support that made his center possible. From Heartbeat International to Rolla RPC—Another pregnancy center in Missouri — the Pregnancy Support Community has provided vital support to the Pregnancy Options Center for the past two years.
“It’s absolutely amazing,” Chowning said. “I’ve been involved (in nonprofit work) for many, many years – I’m 20 now – and I’ve seen a lot of fundraising, and this far exceeds anything I’ve ever seen. . It exceeded my expectations and I am always impressed with the number of people in our community who have supported us. I did not expect that.
For Chowning, whose corporate background was so different from the job he had just entered, this community was invaluable.
“It’s one of those things where you think you know enough to pretty much handle the world around you, and you step into an arena that’s very ‘front line’, and there’s so much information. which are different from working at the enterprise level. ” he said. “It was overwhelming at first, but I had so much support. “
The centre’s growing network of relationships has helped them identify a medical director and a local OB-GYN to provide free and limited ultrasounds, and donors and volunteers have come in droves to help the organization.
Then, this summer, in a moment that took Chowning by surprise, he received even more help from Heartbeat International. As a student at Pregnancy Aid Institute—A one-week accelerated educational program for pregnancy support centers — he had just completed the new track of program director when it was announced that 20 directors of pregnancy centers would return home with a check for $ 5,000 allocated to general operating expenses.
Chowning was one of them.
“I don’t usually cry, but I did. I had tears in my eyes, ”he said.
Chowning with Heartbeat International Vice President Cindi Boston and Senior Director of Corporate Services Betty McDowell | Courtesy of: Heartbeat International
While new and certainly stimulating, the professional involvement of the Chownings in the work of helping pregnancy is no accident.
Hollie, who has been helped by a teen pregnancy center, speaks to the importance of centers like theirs, pointing to their 16-year-old son who is the product of such support.
J., on the other hand, had the opposite experience as a young man, when his unborn child was aborted while in college.
Her experience, and that of Hollie, allows them to connect with clients, women and men.
Today, the couple have five children between them, two of whom are fostered and one adopted. Chowning says their experience with unexpected pregnancies, adoption, foster care and abortion allows them to “truly empathize with a wide range of client situations.”
Tweet this: From abortion to adoption, this Missouri couple is now giving back.
Chowning, her children and her two grandchildren | Courtesy of J. Chowning
Now offering free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, baby items, and community referrals, the Pregnancy Options Center sees multiple clients each month, a number of whom are simply in the area when they see the sign. the organization.
Chowning says the center is committed to meeting clients where they are on their journey. For him, pregnancy help does not start and end with a single visit to the center.
“It is like leading a person to salvation and then wishing him the best, rather than walking by his side,” he said. This relational mindset also extends to post-abortion women and men, who he says are welcome at the center. “We will always help them; we have hope for them here.
Currently, Chowning is working with the Knights of Columbus to obtain the centre’s own ultrasound machine to provide the service in-house. Hoping to expand, Chowning plans to look for a building of its own. Hollie, who is involved in school outreach, is building more relationships to establish herself as a trusted community resource for education, women’s health, and family support.
Looking to the future, Chowning hopes the center will continue to grow, and that the blessings and people he has bonded with so far are just the tip of the iceberg.
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