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Pregnancy Care Center volunteers are Walking with Moms in Need – The Messenger

Pregnancy Care Center volunteers are Walking with Moms in Need – The Messenger
Written by Publishing Team

By LINDA BEHRENS
Contributing writer

Walking with Moms in Need is a nationwide pastoral effort led by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to encourage increased awareness of expectant mothers and parents in need. With the support of their local bishop, parishes are invited to take a journey to put themselves in the shoes of a mother in need.

As part of this process, each parish is encouraged to take a simple inventory of the resources currently available in their area, assess these results and identify gaps, and plan and implement a parish response based on their findings.
The aim of this initiative is to increase support for pregnant mothers and parents in difficulty.

On March 25, 2020, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, the Church celebrated the 25th anniversary of the papal encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life). This prophetic document reaffirmed the Church’s constant teaching on the value and inviolability of all human life. In this historic encyclical, Pope Saint John Paul II challenged the Church:
“With great openness and courage, we must ask ourselves how widespread the culture of life is today among Christians, families, groups and communities in our dioceses. With the same clarity and determination, we must identify the steps that we are called to take in order to serve life in all its truth. (EV 95)

Pope Francis also challenged the Church to go to the sidelines and bring hope and help to those in need. He reminded us on several occasions that our parishes are called to be “islands of mercy in the midst of a sea of ​​indifference”.
Walking with mothers in need is a response to both of these challenges.

Women facing difficult pregnancies or raising young children in difficult circumstances should see the Church as a place where they can find help, especially with its many social services dedicated to meeting the needs of people in crisis. .

But the Church must also honestly assess the pastoral and practical assistance that it currently provides to pregnant mothers and families in need and how effective it is in communicating such help to those who need it most.

Everyone in a given parish community should know where to refer a pregnant woman in need. Walking with Moms in Need hopes to help parishes do just that.

Pregnancy care center: at the service of the diocese
Belleville Pregnancy Care Center (PCC) is one such agency within the diocese that serves expectant mothers and parent mothers.

The Pregnancy Care Center is committed to respecting and respecting the dignity of life and improving the quality of human life by providing crisis intervention, support, counseling and education to those in need.

“The founders attended a right to life conference in Nebraska in 1982. The seed of an idea was sown that there was a need for help for pregnant women in our area,” explains Jill Lugge, president of the Pregnancy Care Center and volunteer at the center, and a parishioner at St. Peter’s Cathedral, Belleville.

After looking for a discreet and affordable location, St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville (now O’Fallon), which still supports the center, offered them a free office, pregnancy test kits, and phone service. The doors opened at the first location in 1983.

“We’re one year away from our 40th year in business,” Lugge says.

Lugge and Kay Bennett, director of the center, speak fondly of Celeste Cocheba, who was director of the center for about 30 years. Cocheba retired when she was 90 and still lives at 103.

The PCC is at the service of any pregnant woman or family with children up to the age of 5 in need. No financial information or proof of residence is required, but a newborn birth certificate may be required.

The center provides pregnancy tests, prenatal vitamins, and counseling to agencies that can help them further, such as doctors; the Special Supplementary Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC); public aid; lodging; and more.

“Newborns are given a large starter kit, which we call a layette, which provides everything they need during the first six weeks,” Lugge explains.

After the first visit, mothers or fathers can come once a month for donated diapers, wipes, clothes, shoes or baby supplies.

Just before COVID-19, PCC started offering infant formula up to the age of 1 year.

“In 2021, we launched a car seat program in conjunction with the sihf.org infant safety course,” Bennett explains. “Mothers who need a car seat and attend the safety class will receive a car seat from the CCP. “

Funds to support the car seat program were donated to the CPC by Belleville Area Right to Life and the Knights of Columbus Cathedral Council.

“We’re always looking for ways to develop and expand our reach and support for mothers, fathers, newborns, infants and toddlers,” Bennett said.

Bennett is available to speak to groups in the center. Some groups organize a “baby shower” to donate items to the center. High school students who need hours of service can volunteer at the center. Families can also donate.
Some groups make blankets for babies.

“Their joy is making the covers,” Lugge says. “Our joy is to offer them to our mothers.

“Funding and products are available through generous donations from individuals, churches, clubs and groups throughout the Illinois metropolitan community,” Bennett said.

“Many stores provide us with supplies, such as formula, diapers, wipes, clothes and other baby items,” says Bennett. “Things seem to appear the way we need them.”
PCC has been and continues to be run by volunteers.

Along with Lugge and Bennett, Gloria Schwartz is the longest-serving secretary and volunteer. In addition to normal secretarial duties, she sends thank you notes to donors and launders all used clothing donated. Lugge says Schwartz is 80 and shames everyone else with his dedication and work ethic.

Donna Wall keeps the finances in order as treasurer and purchases diapers and wipes for the center. Jane Tribout is a counselor and Kathy Gundlach trains volunteers.

Lugge adds, from the bottom of her heart, “If you keep your baby, we’ll help you. “

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