By Christine M. Williams, Anchor Correspondent
ATTLEBORO, Mass. — As part of its mission to save babies, Abundant Hope Pregnancy Resource Center in Attleboro has relocated and launched a fund-raising campaign for an ultrasound machine. The center’s leaders will implement other big changes in 2015 and are calling for more volunteers to assist them in their life-saving work.
Abundant Hope was founded as an alternative to Four Women Health Services, the only remaining abortion clinic in the Diocese of Fall River. The center offers free pregnancy testing, counseling and baby supplies to abortion-minded women. Since the center’s founding more than three years ago, the plan had been to offer free ultrasounds, but the machines are expensive and the center’s original location was not zoned for medical use.
More than two years ago, the center’s board began looking for a new location with the correct zoning. They eventually found the new location and moved this past August.
The board is also working with the Knights of Columbus who have a program that pays for half of ultrasound machines for crisis pregnancy centers. The total cost of a state-of-the-art 3D ultrasound machine is $35,000, which leaves $17,500 for the center to raise.
Darlene Howard, chairman of the center’s board, hopes to complete the fund raising by the end of next year. Raising the entire amount themselves would have taken years.
“I can’t even imagine the length of time it would take us to raise $35,000,” she said. “For us to be able to raise $17,000 is a very big undertaking because that’s $17,000 on top of our everyday expenses.”
All of the center’s expenses — salaries for two staff members, rent, utilities and supplies — are covered entirely by donations. But bringing in an ultrasound machine is essential to crisis pregnancy support because it gives women the opportunity to see their unborn child.
“Statistics prove that 80 percent of women who are abortion-minded, when they see their baby on ultrasound, will choose life, and that’s our goal,” said Howard.
Carrie Tino, the center’s new acting executive director said, “If they see that heartbeat and they see that baby, it at least causes them to pause, and that’s really important.”
Tino, who had been volunteering at the center for three years before stepping into her new role just last month, said she wants to make adjustments that will help the center serve more women. Free ultrasounds will certainly help with that and so will other changes slated for next year. The center will offer more classes on childbirth and parenting and grow its post-abortive ministry. There are plans to start Bible studies and a men’s mentoring group.
The new location is allowing for expansion that will make the center more effective. The layout is better and allows for a waiting room, a children’s room, a second counseling room, a formal conference room and more storage space. The new building has no stairs at the entrance and offers ample off-street parking — features that are important to the center’s many clients who visit with their young children, she said.
The center is closer to the abortion clinic, which will give women visiting the clinic a short distance to travel if they want to see another option.
“Should we have a Divine intervention, someone could get right over to us immediately,” she said.
Tino would also like to expand the center’s hours, but to do that, more volunteers are needed. There will be training session on January 22 at 6:30 p.m.; anyone interested should R.S.V.P.
“Our staff is really our volunteers. That’s who makes this center work,” she said. “It’s wonderful to have people who are willing to give their time.”
Together the volunteers and staff reach out and offer support to women who often feel frightened and alone, Tino said: “We are saving the unborn. We are helping moms choose to parent. We are helping those babies come into this world secure because their moms are secure.”
The new Abundant Hope address is 182 East Street, Attleboro, Mass. 02703. The phone number is 855-299-4218 and the website is www.abundanthopeprc.org/.