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London Crisis Pregnancy Centre "It's all about Options Counseling"
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Experience Another World Without Leaving Yours

By Rick Vandekieft

In early April I had the opportunity to sit with Lori Bethel, the Centre's Executive Director, Linda Suchard, the Client Services Director and Anna Brenner their Administrator, the front line team at the London Crisis Pregnancy Centre. I first need to clarify the "sit down with the team". I did the sitting while they took turns answering the incoming calls, greeting clients and accepting donations for their care closet. Therefore, my best description of this ministry is: "The London Crisis Pregnancy Centre - The Place of Conviction and Compassion in Perpetual Motion!"

What is the London Crisis Pregnancy Centre (LCPC)? The LCPC is a Christian non-profit organization assisting men and women in crisis situations related to pregnancy and sexual health issues.

For 22 years the Centre has been operating in London. Currently Lori, Linda and Anna are the only staff at LCPC but the agency is physically supported by many volunteers, all of whom have received crisis pregnancy training.

Lori says the vision is to recruit more and more volunteers so the Centre can grow BUT she also says that the objective is not to grow the LCPC wishing growth would not be required because of less need - fewer unplanned pregnancies. It is her hope that her team could do more on the educational side with additional programs about prevention.

Currently the Centre works with over 300 clients on an ongoing basis. That does not include the constant phone calls from young people, girls and guys, calling for information and advice and the calls from parents with concerns about their sons’ or daughters' sexual activity or an unplanned pregnancy. There are also the crisis calls where the LCPC needs to take immediate action to assist. Add to all of these calls, the many drop-ins of all ages looking for answers and advice. Lori, Linda and Anna along with their part-time volunteers are interacting with hundreds and hundreds of people in need of what they have to offer.

Obviously, it costs money to operate the Centre and the many programs they offer. We will talk about their ministry, their programs and their tireless work in this and future editions of Christian Life in London.

It is important to note that 100% of the money required to operate the LCPC comes from caring Londoners through direct donations or participation in one of the Centre's fundraising activities. Their desire to keep their Biblical distinction, the LCPC does not receive any government assistance.

On March 30th, the London Crisis Pregnancy Centre hosted its 21st Annual Banquet and Silent Action at the Hellenic Centre. This event is the most important fundraiser of the year and 2012 was a tremendous success. There were just over 450 in attendance many of whom take part year after year to show their support. In addition to those in attendance, there were 300 London businesses that donated 360 items for the auction. The assortment was awesome, with items valued at $50 up to several hundred. The traditional annual finale of the auction is the live bidding for the final item, the famous carrot cake. Tim Grundy does a fantastic job as the auctioneer hyping up the audience to bid on the cheese cake before it's too late. This winner this year paid $140 for the cake!

While the auction component is truly exciting and most important for the financial wellbeing of the Centre, the true highlight of the evening are the client stories told by Lori and Linda. Three success stories in particular moved the crowd as they listened to the families and these young girls that have made the difficult yet wonderful life changing choice to have the babies in these unplanned pregnancies.

To hear these young women and, in one case, the young father as well, speak of their journeys was so very moving. When they spoke of the support they received from the London Crisis Pregnancy Centre’s compassionate, non-judgmental support team, it confirmed to everyone at the banquet why they support this ministry. This was a first class event and every detail was covered.

For this edition of Christian Life in London, Lori, Linda and Anna gave an overview of one of their many important programs. This one has two facets, STEP (Specific Training Educating Parents) and GRIP (God Real in People). Lori explained that the STEP and GRIP program has evolved over the last seven years and today is such a vital program that hosts between 25 and 35 girls every Thursday evening. London Crisis Pregnancy Centre runs this 8 week program in conjunction with Open Door Fellowship Church, an arrangement that is a wonderful partnership.

The topics covered in detail during the STEP sessions include prenatal health care, baby development, breast feeding, nutrition, baby hygiene (bathing, diapering), personal hygiene, postpartum, bonding and infant and youth safety issues. STEP expands into other necessary parenting skills such as household management and budgeting. There is a babysitting service provided to ensure the group is fully focused on the presentations and discussions. GRIP (God Real In People) focuses more on personal development, encouraging self value, respect, and opens up the discussion for faith and how to cultivate a deeper relationship with God. GRIP is frequently the program that clients continue coming back to once their child is born.

Linda talked about another important component of STEP and GRIP. There is a meal provided before the start of each Thursday's meeting. Thanks to donations and volunteer cooks, they provide the girls with a nutritious meal. Linda adds that unfortunately this meal is probably the best meal they will have all week. The leftovers are packed up and shared among the girls to take with them at the end of the meeting.

Both Linda and Lori talked about the women (or "our girls" as they call them) that have gone through the STEP program and have returned to the Centre regularly to keep in touch. Some have actually returned to help out wherever they can. Oh the smiles on their faces when they speak about the many success stories of their girls that graduated through STEP, or GRIP or one of the other programs offered. We will discuss these other programs when we continue our chat with the Centre's team in next month's edition.

If STEP and GRIP has caught your attention and you would like to help out, call Linda or Anna at the Centre and let them know how you can be part of this gratifying program. If you can cook, speak in a group session, are a good listener or can help offset some of the food costs, they want to hear from you! Give them a call at 519.432.2073.