For Michelle Robertson, New Hope gave her someone to talk to who would not pass judgment based on her situation.
Robertson said she felt lost and shocked when she found out she was pregnant.
Because of her financial situation, Robertson said she did not think she could provide for her baby.
She was contemplating ending her pregnancy.
She initially contacted New Hope to schedule an ultrasound. Center director Deborah McFarland said the center does not have the equipment on site, but has a relationship with two women’s health center in town that offer the service to New Hope clients free of charge.
“I just felt I needed someone to talk to, to know is this really the right thing for me to be doing,” Robertson said. “I was looking for guidance.”
Robertson said she never felt pressured to make a decision to complete her pregnancy. Instead, she said she found that listening ear that she was looking for.
“I sat in that room with a counselor for an hour and we cried together, we prayed together,” Robertson said. “I told her my life story.”
She said the center helped her think through other options that were available.
Ultimately, she made the decision to keep her baby. She named her Sabrina and introduced her to the crowd at the celebration.
Support from New Hope is still a major part of Robertson’s life. She returns every three weeks to talk to a counselor and receive parenting information.
The parenting classes also provide the opportunity for her to earn items her daughter needs. The “Earn While You Learn” program gives a mother “baby bucks” for completing parenting segments. They can be redeemed for baby items in the New Hope store.
“A lot of times our clients are not abortion-minded, they just need someone to stand alongside them,” McFarland said.
McFarland pointed out that New Hope clients come from a variety of social and economic backgrounds. They are also a variety of ages, last year ranging from 12 to 43.
“Almost one half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned ...” New Hope executive director Tracie Shellhouse said. “Most women do not want an abortion, they simply lack the knowledge and the support to be able to choose parenting or adoption.”
Shellhouse said New Hope provides this support through a 24-hour hotline, counseling appointments, parenting classes and opportunities for mothers to earn needed ideas for their child.
“Our center offers a safe, friendly and nonjudgmental environment where clients can discuss their concerns,” Shellhouse said.
She said they also receive important information about health and pregnancy. She said families facing an unplanned pregnancy deserve resources to make an educated choice.
All services are offered free of charge and are confidential.