Teen pregnancy stats are staggering, but Place of Hope aims to be just that
Neighbor Grover sez his brother fell into an upholstery machine but is fully recovered. T his may not be a pleasant topic but the statistics are staggering, and our newspaper office is getting a rather remarkable next door neighbor that wants to make a difference in lives that need a difference made.
• In the last three years, Rockdale High School teen pregnancies have numbered 20 or more, some students with their second child, one or two in middle school.
• In the U.S., about 4 in 10 girls will become pregnant before the age of 20, and about half of them will do so again while still teenagers.
• Some 41 percent of U.S. births are to unmarried women. In Milam County, that rate is even higher—48.8 percent.
• Texas has the fourth highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation.
• In the 1950s there were only 5 types of sexually transferred diseases. Today, there are more than 30 types of STDs.
Suzanne Turner, one of dozens of volunteers who are working to make Place of Hope Pregnancy Resource Center a reality in Rockdale, quoted those statistics to the Rotary Club last week. I’m surely not the only one in her audience who was rocked by those statistics. The educators among our membership were all too familiar with them.
Place of Hope is being established in the former two-story Masonic building downtown, last occupied by TRIAD Engineers. The building has been generously donated to Place of Hope and its cause.
Volunteers have come forth from near and far to make the necessary remodeling and renovations needed for the facility to successfully meet its Christian based goals, which are:
• To be a dynamic center impacting lives by informing those in an unplanned pregnancy of options and help available to them.
• Serving girls, women, men and families throughout Milam and surrounding counties (the nearest such facilities are in Round Rock, Hutto and Temple).
• Encouraging girls, women, men and families in an unplanned pregnancy or pregnancy loss by providing personal and practical help for their physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
• Educating individuals, students and our community.
Teens who come to such centers are often devastated. The center will counsel them as to their four choices: 1. Get married and co-parent; 2. Single parenting; 3. Place baby for adoption; 4. Abortion.
“We only mention abortion to see if they are abortion-minded,” Turner said. “Some 95 percent will change that mindset after an ultrasound, and our facility has already had an ultrasound machine donated to us.”
Each girl will be given a “hope bag.” Also free are the pregnancy tests, and the loan of maternity clothes which they may exchange as the pregnancy progresses.
“Everything else these clients must ‘earn while they learn’,” Turner said. Classes will include mentoring to offer hope, nutrition and cooking classes, parenting classes, newborn care, labor and delivery, hopes and dreams, infant CPR and child safety, sibling classes, financial planning, abstinence seminar, post-abortion, individual work (videos, worksheets and homework).
“Girls earn ‘Mommy Money’ for classes and work completed and the money can be redeemed for new baby items,” Turner said.
Projected opening date for Place of Hope is Sept. 1 but much remains to be done.
“Immediate needs are funds for flooring and furniture for the lobby and client rooms,” Turner said. Donations of labor have been astounding but there are still many items needed before opening day. Among them:
Telephones, copier, color printers, computers, fax machine, scanner, refrigerator, 6 wing-back chairs, dry erase board, sofa or love seat (or 2 additional wing-back chairs), 2 end tables for counseling rooms, 4 bookshelves, 3 TV sets with VCR/DVD players, shelving for layette room, and an acrylic brochure holder.
And, of course, donated funds. Place of Hope is a 501C3 (tax-deductible) charity. Send to Place of Hope, PO Box 1674, Rockdale TX 76567.
We’re excited about The Reporter’s new neighbor. Suzanne and any number of her fellow volunteers would be happy to present their power point program to your civic club or organization.