Restoration. God specializes in it. Stories of restoration draw us in because hope and God’s faithfulness takes center stage.
Akron Pregnancy Services (APS) and its current executive director, Janet Paul, have and continue to experience the blessing of God’s restoration.
In 1999 when Paul joined the board of APS, following her husband’s service in same, she found restoration in her own heart through serving there.
Paul said, “As a new Christian I didn’t really know much (about what was involved in a pro-life ministry).”
As many in pro-life ministry know, God works in our hearts every bit as much as He works in the clients of pregnancy help centers. For Paul, it was healing from post-abortive scars which led her to get involved in post-abortive trainings which she continues to this day.
Tweet This: As many in pro-life ministry know, God works in our hearts every bit as much as He works in the clients of pregnancy help centers.
For years she has conducted recovery and reconciliation classes in the Summit County jail, having become the chaplain. This is a position she continues to hold along with her current position, although now she conducts chaplain duties one day a week.
APS opened its doors in 1984. Local pastors and lay people in Akron saw the need born out of the devastation left by the five abortion clinics in that city. The original location of APS was already heavily involved in restoring the lives of the homeless, the new pregnancy center would operate out of the Haven of Rest ministry for two years.
Initially referred to as a crisis pregnancy center, APS then moved to the current location at Market and Broadway. The center has operated at this location for over 30 years.
Starting in 2017 several changes converged. The former director (for the previous 30 years) retired, and Paul became the executive director. In 2019 APS merged with Pregnancy Choices of Canton strengthening pro-life efforts in Summit and Stark counties.
Eva Women's Clinic (EWC) with locations in Canton and Akron is the medical arm of the pregnancy help ministry.
Now, Paul states, “Five locations under one group—we spur each other on and have a much bigger budget to do a lot more, more effectively. I like what’s happened with us. We all had to make changes–in my book it is win-win.”
Originally the Stark county pregnancy help center used the tagline, “a Northeast Ohio Alliance.” Paul referenced this as, “perhaps a prophetic tagline.”
The new medical clinic, EWC, was scheduled to open with full medical staffing in the South Arlington, Akron location March 2020. Then a pandemic.
Yet again, what may appear to be a setback became an opportunity to get staff fully trained and prepared for the unique circumstances.
“We concluded that people need us now more than ever,” said Paul.
So, opening with essential services, EWC and APS continued to serve the community. EWC offers STD and STI testing along with free ultrasounds and women’s well visits. They have grown in size, strength and purpose. Akron is down to one abortion clinic and this ministry has grown to five locations in all.
The next steps for this ministry culminate its rich history of restoration in the relocation of APS. Its 30-year location, downtown Akron, has challenges for clients in regard to access and parking. The new location, the Robinson Mansion, is near a high target neighborhood with ample parking.
One of the first mansions built in Akron in the early 1900s was utilized from 1930 until 1974 as a home for unwed mothers. For over 3,000 women experiencing a difficult period of their lives they found hope and restoration at the Crittenton Home (the name of the Robinson Mansion during these 44 years).
For 35 expectant girls or new mothers, there were rooms and an opportunity for schooling and job training in the carriage house which was converted into a schoolhouse. Restoration for the women and a better life with mom or placement in an adoptive home for the babies.
APS’s current landlord purchased and will renovate the historical mansion. APS will be the anchor tenant taking the first floor and half of the second floor. EWC will locate there as well, the pregnancy help and medical services taking two-thirds of the building. The third floor perhaps could house residential clients revitalizing the previous vision of the mansion.
“The restoration of the property and its purpose as a life-giving location,” reflected Paul in considering the possibilities.
For its October celebration, APS shared the vision through an APS update video. When the Crittenton Home was closed in 1974 an abortion clinic located across from it. Today the abortion clinic is gone, and a childcare center is in its place.
Paul continues to look toward the future beyond the 2021 anticipated move to the mansion, perhaps expanding to the north in Summit County where an abortion clinic is in Cuyahoga Falls, about four miles from the mansion.
She invites others to pray for clear direction to possibly purchase or lease the building adjacent to the abortion clinic in order to offer ultrasounds and offer women an opportunity to choose life.
Paul is very focused on the benefits of shared efforts.
“It seems to me that since the merger, I personally think it is a great model for pregnancy centers close to one another to share resources,” she said. “For us at APS we have gleaned so much from them (Pregnancy Choices) on things they were doing. Grant writing, financial audits, payroll, human resources are some shared efforts which lightens the load organizationally for this ministry.”
Having benefitted from a grant, APS received funding for advertising and covered the Akron area with billboards, bus signs and bus exterior ads. This outreach effort opens the door to innumerable restoration stories - yet to be written - by those catching a glimpse of these ads, moving them to contact APS and its affiliates.