The Women’s Care Center recently opened a new location on Lake Avenue in Fort Wayne and received a special blessing from Bishop Rhoades on Friday, June 2, as part of an open house. The day’s event was intended to dedicate the new building and to recognize the lifesaving work that takes place there.
Since the organization’s launch in 1984 under Janet Smith — a University of Notre Dame professor who wanted to provide a resource for pregnant women based on Catholic moral principles — it has since grown to offer more locations and services, now spanning across 10 states. The newest addition to the Fort Wayne franchise is particularly significant as it is located a block away from Planned Parenthood. Susan Berndt, a sidewalk counselor with Right to Life next to Planned Parenthood said, “With this location, I think we have a better chance at saving mothers and their babies. If we can get to them from right outside of Planned Parenthood, we can help save them. It’s great that the Women’s Care Center is so close.”
The event began with Women’s Care Center Vice President of Client Care, Jenny Hunsberger, thanking all of the volunteers and staff of the Fort Wayne centers for serving clients with compassion and care. She went on to give a special thanks to the Mary Cross Tippmann Foundation, which provided funding for the new location, Shawnee Construction for their efforts in the renovation of the building, and other vital benefactors who aided in the center’s opening.
Blessing the center, Bishop Rhoades said, “We ask you now to bless and sanctify this place which is dedicated to the wellbeing of mothers and their children, both born and unborn. Accept the offering and heartfelt desires of all who will visit and work in this place, and let your Holy angels be appointed here to bring peace. May expectant mothers be brought to the safe delivery of healthy children, and may your blessing ever rest upon all mothers who come here that they may grow in maternal love. Guard the lives that are yours, almighty God, and grant them your everlasting light through Christ.”
Following the blessing, attendees were encouraged to walk through the building to view the newly constructed exam rooms, ultrasound equipment, counseling rooms, and other offerings of the new center, which include free pregnancy testing, free ultrasounds, confidential counseling, support, and education.
Stephen Jagla, a member of the Women’s Care Center Foundation that supports the operations of the Women’s Care Center, explained that all of the center’s service offerings are aimed at “helping women have healthy pregnancies” by providing a non-judgmental and non-political environment and offering wraparound care services to support them through their pregnancies and after the baby is born. “Everything is ultimately just about loving the woman and helping them choose life, have healthy pregnancies, and helping them to become great parents,” said Jagla.
The organization helps approximately 30,000 women annually. The Fort Wayne Centers serve a multitude of zip codes across their three locations, with the highest need being in the 46806 zip code. “The highest infant mortality rate is in the 46806 zip code. I’m glad that we are now able to serve that community,” stated Anne Koehl, Director of the Fort Wayne centers. “Most of these mothers are vulnerable. They have no insurance, no doctors, and are usually in a poor relationship and are very alone. A lot of the women we meet are having their first baby, so we offer them different types of classes, such as delivery and care, and parenting classes. By taking the classes, we offer them coupons to shop in our stores for baby clothes and other items.”
The organization is funded solely on donations. Items they are most in need of are baby clothes, diapers, and books. Donations can be dropped off at any of their three locations, 2910 Lake Avenue, 921 West Coliseum Boulevard, or 4600 West Jefferson Boulevard. Financial donations can also be made online through the Women’s Care Center website at womenscarecenter.org/fort-wayne.
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