Pregnancy Center of the Illinois Valley’s 30th year didn’t start off on a very celebratory note, after the rural Oregon center suffered a break-in to one of its buildings in early January.
While the vandalism has not stopped the center from serving its clients with life-affirming help, the expense for repairs is going to put a dent in their budget, after the intruders ripped out the hot water heater and left the door open, resulting in busted water pipes and significant damage to the structure.
“It flooded the entire building, front to back,” interim director Dolly Newton said.
Carpet cleaning alone, which starts with soaking up all the water, carries a $600 price tag. The hot water heater needs replacing, a wall needs removed and replaced, including new insulation and plumbing, and a new toilet needs to be purchased and installed.
Before going after the big-ticket items, Newton and her volunteer team had to clean up what was left behind of the trash the trespassers left behind. Community members have stepped forward with donations, but the center will need more funds for construction supplies and replacement of the hot water tank and the toilet.
Break-ins and vandalism is nothing new to the small town of Cave Junction, in eastern Oregon, where the pregnancy center has served women in unexpected pregnancy over the past 30 years. The incident, which is still under investigation, took place during a significant snowstorm.
“They were probably seeking shelter, but to vandalize things as they did,” Newton said. “We’re not going to be mad if somebody breaks into a building to keep from freezing to death, but when they do things like that, it’s aggravating. It’s discouraging, but we just keep going.”
The journey for this pregnancy center began in 1986 with a prayer meeting. On April 1, 1987, the center opened its doors as Living Alternatives. Now called the Pregnancy Center of the Illinois Valley, the center serves women with free pregnancy testing, parenting classes, post-abortive healing groups, life-skills programs and more—all at no cost to clients.
As Newton, the board, and volunteers, as well as the new director, move forward into the new year, a primary objective will be to add more volunteers to the staffing. Newton herself will give way to an incoming executive director starting Feb. 1, resuming her role as a staff client advocate.
Newton, who started with the center as a volunteer and has been with the center for 12 years, is using the the break-in as one more tool to educate the community on the presence of the center and how they can get involved.
“We’re a very small town, Newton said. “It’s a real challenge, but we do have some really dedicated supporters. The challenge in this area is to have consistent community support. The more we put ourselves out there, the more they know who we are. There’s still a lot of people in Cave Junction that don’t even know what pregnancy center is or where it is.”