Pregnancy Decision Health Centers (PDHC) recently opened a Family Empowerment Center (FEC), a place where parents can obtain free baby items needed to care for their little ones as well as sign up for classes.
“At the FEC we have ongoing opportunities to check in with the families to see what individual needs they may have for themselves or their families,” said Jaimy Craemer-Adjei, LPN, director of programs for the Ohio network of pregnancy help centers. “We can then make referrals to additional community agencies as needed. This has been a wonderful way to build connections and offer ongoing support to the families at PDHC.”
The FEC opened in mid-December 2020. According to Craemer-Adjei, the facility has several rooms, including two for client shopping, a large common area with several seating areas for clients and staff to connect, three offices, a private meeting/consulting space, diaper storage, plus a laundry room and a large area to sort and prepare donations.
This space met a great need.
“The Family Empowerment Center was created out of necessity to accommodate our quickly growing parenting class program,” Craemer-Adjei said. “Classes and shopping were previously held at the PDHC North Center, but there was not nearly enough space or parking to continue offering these services there. An independent location made sense, as supporting parents in practical ways after the baby is born is a large part of what we do.”
After the birth of a client’s child, PDHC provides a large gift bag filled with baby items, such as diapers, wipes, clothing, bottles, bibs, pacifiers and more. Additionally, parents who take on-line or in-person parenting classes earn points for each class and can come to the FEC, using those points to shop for additional baby items.
“Both mom and dad are encouraged to take the classes at their convenience and are eligible to earn points and collect baby items while mom is pregnant until baby turns one,” Craemer-Adjei said.
Celebrating 40 years
This year marks 40 years since PDHC was established. Started by Heartbeat International’s Board Chair, Peggy Hartshorn, the organization now has five locations in the Columbus, Ohio area. One of those is the FEC; the other four offer full services related to pregnancy, including tests, ultrasounds, STI testing, and material aid, all at that specific location, Craemer-Adjei said.
PDHC experienced a significant increase in numbers of women and families reached last year. The organization saw a 15 percent increase in visits to its centers over 2019, despite, or because of COVID. Texts and chats to the 24/7 hotline were up 44 percent and 61 percent, respectively, compared with 2019, PDHC reported to Pregnancy Help News.
The latest abortion statistics for Ohio showed a decline in such procedures. The number of abortions in the state during 2019 decreased slightly from 2018 statistics, from 20,425 to 20,102.
Empowering women and men to carry their babies to term is a significant part of the mission of both PDHC and its FEC. That mission is making end-roads.
Connecting, making friends and finding empowerment
PDHC’s parenting classes in 2020 experienced a 55 percent increase over the previous year, and by the end of that opening month last December, the FEC saw 115 client visits, Craemer-Adjei said.
“At PDHC we have made it a point to go above and beyond in the lives of our clients as much as we are able,” she said. “We don't want to be known for just meeting women and helping them through a pregnancy decision, but rather be a true support throughout their pregnancy and at least through the first year of the baby's life, all while connecting them with other support services to empower them as parents in their ongoing journey.”
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Due to COVID-19 restrictions, many of the classes and meetings take place online. However, live video socials and some “impromptu meetings” take place at the FEC, Craemer-Adjei said. Connection is important for the moms and dads.
“Many friendships have been formed in classes, and new parents can ‘do life’ together as they raise their children. It is also a place where moms and dads connect with each other,” she said.
Classes, connections, material items, encouragement, and community resources supply empowerment for women and their partners facing an unplanned pregnancy, and PDHC and the FEC are providing just that.