Belle Vernon Ministry Continues with New Name and Location

Article excerpt

It started out modestly, in a farmhouse on a country road where women could go for help and counseling during a crisis pregnancy.

When that setting didn't fit with the need, the ministry moved to Broad Avenue in North Belle Vernon, with an emphasis on providing resources.

Now it's located at 308 Chess St. in Monongahela, and it has a new name -- Options Resource Center for Pregnancy and Sexual Health Education and Counseling Inc.

"We're just up and trying to be known again in a greater capacity," said the Rev. Dr. Rebecca Reed, who is the executive director. "We had 17 babies born to us last year."

With each move and each name change, the nondenominational and nonprofit ministry evolved into what it is today.

Reed, who lives in Uniontown, explained there are two parts to the ministry -- a family resource center and a crisis pregnancy center.

Reed, who also has a pastoral counseling office in Uniontown, explained that the family resource center offers education in child development, parenting and life skills to men and women in Washington, Fayette, Westmoreland and Allegheny counties.

"Women who choose to carry their baby to term receive classes. It's called an 'earn while you learn' program," she said. "They earn 'closet cash' -- like Monopoly money -- and they go shopping in the new closet or the gently used closet."

Prices are very affordable. For example, some new outfits cost only a few dollars, and 12 disposable diapers costs $1. Other items include gently used furniture and toys.

Participants can double their cash by bringing their spouse or the father of their baby, doing homework and arriving on time.

All parents are eligible, and there are no financial guidelines.

"We're here for anyone who needs our help," Reed said.

These material items are donated by individuals and churches, some of which hold "baby showers" to collect items specifically for the ministry.

The crisis pregnancy center offers free pregnancy testing, education and counseling.

"If they are abortion-vulnerable or abortion-minded, we don't sit in judgment on anyone," Reed said. "We offer love and acceptance and resources."

Those with specific housing or nutrition needs can be referred to other resources, such as the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program.

"We also offer education. We have a sexual health team that goes into the schools and churches and teaches on values, emotions, relationships, pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases," Reed explained.

Other resources include a postpartum depression support group, a post-abortion support group and counseling, and education and counseling about sexually transmitted diseases.

The goal of the ministry is to equip individuals and families to make healthy, life-affirming choices about sexuality and child- bearing that are consistent with Biblical truths.

"Through our actions we try to let them know it's a safe place. It's safe here no matter what your circumstances in life or where you're at; it's safe," Reed said. "We're not here to heap condemnation on anyone, but we're here to just love them.

"We are pro-life, but we don't condemn a person if they choose to abort," she added. "We want to give them all of their options. We want to teach them of their risks."

The key, Reed believes, is making sure people have the facts.

"Education is very important. I believe if a person is educated and has an understanding, then they have more of an option," she said. …