The Mobile Unit, front and center at First Source’s fundraising banquet, has become a big, very visible part of the organization’s outreach efforts.
HANCEVILLE – First Source for Women (FSW), the faith-based, pro-life pregnancy and parenting support service headquartered in Hanceville, is growing by leaps and bounds. Just five years ago, in 2013, the organization saw 88 new clients. This year, it has seen 540 new clients and hosted new and returning clients for more than 1,200 visits to the office and new mobile unit, the “Stork Mobile.” And 2018 is still two months from being over.
“I credit the increase in clients to the churches who participate in our Baby Bottle Boomerang and our Save the Stork Medical Mobile,” said FSW Director Catherine Bethell. “We have distributed more than 2,000 baby bottles to local churches to date. The campaign runs for four weeks and raises awareness because, by the time it is over, everyone in that church knows we are here to help women, and they refer a client.
“Of course, our Stork Mobile is a traveling billboard. When we parked at Rock the South, our phone rang off the hook for two weeks.”
Who is FSW?
If you’re not familiar with FSW, it is a charitable organization that offers free support services to moms-to-be and even some willing dads, including:
- Free and confidential pregnancy testing
- Free ultrasounds by trained, licensed nurses
- Pregnancy options education
- Positive choices – sexual risk avoidance education
- Access to FSW’s baby boutique for diapers, baby supplies, baby beds and maternity clothes for mom
- Referrals to agencies for community assistance
- Intensive training for moms and dads
At the recent FSW fundraising dinner, Bethell shared with the audience:
“Her name is Wendy. She is 19 and wants to be the first one in her family to graduate from college. One night her emotions overtook her, and she let her guard down. The boy said he would pay for an abortion, but he had no long-standing feelings for her. His ‘loving’ words were just the things guys say. She walked into our office broken, torn and feeling totally unloved. Deep inside her mind, she wants to be encouraged that the best thing is to give life to this child. She needs someone to hold her hand and give her permission to take on the challenge of mothering by herself. She needs to be told she can do it, and that people will stand with her. And we do just that! We see lots of girls like Wendy.”
Ultrasound services a key to success
The ultrasound service has proven to be a crucial key to FSW’s pro-life mission.
Said Bethell, “Our center advertises in various ways to reach women who are at risk for an abortion and women who are seeking an abortion. We use the latest in ultrasound technology to show them that this is a tiny, growing person with fingers and toes and eyelids. When our clients see this, over 80 percent of them choose life for their child.”
Stork Mobile gives FSW new level of community visibility
FSW received its mobile unit, nicknamed the Stork Mobile, in Sept. 2017, so it has been on the road for a little more than a year now. Allison Reid delivered a video update on the unit at the fundraising banquet:
- The unit has been to at least one event every month in 2018.
- The unit has been used in multiple outreach events near an abortion clinic in Huntsville.
- Staff on the unit have performed pregnancy tests and ultrasounds and have provided counseling to visitors.
- Increasing community awareness through the unit’s presence at events is believed to be a major contributing factor in increased visits to the Hanceville office.
- The unit and its stories have provided encouragement to other pro-life pregnancy centers around the region.
- The cost of “free stuff”
FSW clients get to come to the organization’s baby boutique at the Hanceville office and shop for everything from maternity clothes to diapers and baby powder, to baby clothes and nursery furniture. It’s all free . . sort of. The clients have to take classes on sexual integrity, pregnancy, labor, adoption, child-rearing and even life skills like household finances, in order to earn “mommy bucks” that they spend in the boutique for the things they want. That’s the formula, according to FSW: learn to be a better parent, get more stuff. It’s a win-win.
By the numbers
- 64 percent of FSW’s clients are Cullman County residents. Clients come from several surrounding counties to seek services not available in their home areas.
- 68 percent are between 15 and 24 years of age
- 27 percent are between 25 and 34
- 5 percent are over 35
Between July 2017 and June 2018, FSW:
- hosted 1,207 new and returning client visits
- performed 367 pregnancy tests and sonograms
- offered education via videos or literature 1,300 times
- “sold” 8,106 items through the boutique, paid for in Mommy Money
- offered 4,762 class sessions or referrals to community partners
FSW’s programs are supported and underwritten by a number of community partners including Mitch Smith Chevrolet, Traditions Bank, Walker Brothers Ltd., Tim Davis DMD, Drinkard Development, Fillinger Foot Clinic, Katherine Morgan/State Farm, Merchants Bank, Mrs. Ramona Steltemeier, Mel and Tress Bailey, Bill Smith Buick GMC, Peoples Bank, Clarence and Ladonna Roberson, Sweet Peppers Deli, Werner’s Trading Company, American Classics Apparel, Martha Burchell/Burchell Insurance Agency, Chambers Farm and Garden Supply, Doug Doggett Jewelers, Johnny’s Bar-B-Q, Richard Kreps/Office Equipment Company, Wendy’s Health and Nutrition, and Johnson Chiropractic Center.
Like any charitable organization, FSW needs community help to keep doing what it does.
FSW is seeking a location for a small office in Cullman where ultrasounds and certain other services can be offered. As the organization currently has to store the Stork Mobile in another part of the county, the most ideal location would include sheltered parking for the 25-foot vehicle.
FSW is seeking 60 monthly donors at $59 per month. Visit http://firstsourceforwomen.org/donate/.
Baby supplies needed
- New cribs
- New car seats – infant to toddler
- Pack ‘n’ plays
- Diapers size newborn – 5 months
- Baby clothes – Newborn – 18 months
- Bottles 9 oz.
- Bottle brushes
- Diaper bags
- Baby wipes
- Baby shampoo
- Diaper rash ointments (A&D, Desitin, etc.)
- Infant medicines (Tylenol, Orajel, etc.)
- Breast Pumps (Electric & manual)
- Boppies / onesies
- Burp cloths
- Baby blankets and hats
- Nurse sonographer
- Life affirming client advocate
- Help with newsletters and mail outs
- Distribute materials and promotional items
- Serve as church/organization liaison
- Help with fundraising events
- Sort and organize donated baby items
- Take home laundry when needed to freshen baby clothes
- Bake cookies or casseroles for special events
The final word
Said Bethell, “Every day, we pray that the girls will look up and no longer see us, but only see Jesus and see the love that we have for them. All our volunteers, they have that. They make that connection with that girl, and they see Jesus in their eyes. They see that we love them, and we care for them, and we’re going to take care of them.”
Find out more at www.firstsourceforwomen.org.
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