Despite having no internet, no website, and no Earn While You Learn program, Tri-County Crisis Pregnancy Center in Gowanda, New York, has been faithfully meeting the needs of pregnant, abortion-vulnerable young women for 30 years.
Laura Valone, Center Director, describes their rural village in upstate New York as “very small.” On average, they see between 50 and 60 clients every year.
And yet, this center is actively engaging single parents and families in unique ways.
In an era where many life-affirming organizations are adding services like ultrasounds, STD testing, parenting education programs and more in an effort to best support their clients, it is unusual to discover a ministry successfully doing less in order to serve more.
Tweet This: New York organization maximizing local partnerships to focus on life-saving mission.
Rather than starting an Earn While You Learn program, Valone says her organization has chosen to partner with other local agencies. When a client needs a crib or car seat, for example, Valone and her volunteer staff directs them to two community programs.
One, “Healthy Families,” focuses on such aspects as parenting skills, relationship building, and educates fathers. The other is a program through Cornell Cooperative extension, which teaches budgeting, nutrition, pregnancy and breast-feeding classes, and money management.
Clients are encouraged to complete one (or both) of these courses and then bring their certificate of completion back to Tri-County, in exchange for the needed baby items.
This partnership encourages participation in the programs provided by other agencies. It’s a win-win for both the agencies and the families.
And, by referring clients to these other programs, Valone says Tri-County no longer worries about “mission drift.”
In its early years, the organization’s Board of Directors and volunteers alike sought to meet as many client needs as possible. When they hired the director who preceded Valone, she discovered the group’s desire to help clients in a holistic way had spread the agency too thin. They had a clothing closet, food ministry, and transportation ministry, in addition to the original intent of serving women in unexpected pregnancies.
The new director, Audrianne Eddy, got busy cleaning house. She closed down all other programs and encouraged her volunteers to focus heavily on the original mission of the organization – giving abortion-vulnerable women a safe place to consider her options in a life-affirming, Christ-exalting context.
Current Director, Laura Valone, experienced Tri-County’s blessings long before she took over as director. Two of her daughters experienced unexpected pregnancies during Valone’s tenure as a volunteer on Tri-County’s hotline.
Doubly-blessed now as grandmother of little Keyon and Gianna, and director of this strong ministry, Valone is turning her attention to a new way to encourage families.
Tweet This: "Gem" of a center celebrating 30 years with June 14 Walk for Life.
Dubbed “Empowerment Workshops”, Valone and her staff have created a plan for participating in community health fairs, not only deepening community partnerships, but advancing the mission by directing women and families to a network of help while allowing the pregnancy center to focus on its core mission. The community fairs serve as a venue to promote classes on everything from cooking for special diets to budgeting, GED classes and more.
Opportunities to “sprinkle the pro-life message” abound, says Valone. “These workshops are a powerful opportunity to raise awareness and bless the community at the same time.” Thanks to a small grant, she is able to bless those who sign up at her booth with either a free pack of diapers or a free haircut, depending on their greater need.
When asked what her secret is for the center’s longevity, Valone responded that she has made a point to partner with other agencies and to seek out mentors from other pro-life organizations. “The opportunity to meet, brainstorm, pray and support each other is immeasurable.”
The center, which Valone describes as a “gem,” is currently focusing on its upcoming 30th Anniversary Walk for Life on June 14, while continuing to raise awareness of the sanctity of life in their community and throughout the tri-county area they serve.
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