Thirty years ago, hope came to Bowling Green, Ohio in the form of a pregnancy help center. Since then, Bowling Green Pregnancy Center has served approximately 11,000 women, providing resources such as free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, parenting classes, and post-abortive counseling.
The center will celebrate its 30-year ministry milestone with a “Celebrating Hope” Gala May 7 at 6 p.m. at the Perrysburg Hilton Garden Inn. The free event will feature popular pro-life speaker and blogger Jill Stanek as well as provide an inside look at the impact Bowling Green Pregnancy Center has been making upon lives in its community since 1985.
Tweet This: @JillStanek to keynote Bowling Green PC's 30-year anniversary banquet.
Executive director Shelly Burkhart closely relates to the women she and her staff serve weekly at the center. Burkhart traveled a similar road at one time in her life and sees pregnancy help ministry as her calling.
“God called me to the ministry while I was on staff working for a church four years ago. I was praying that God would use me to help women in a tough situation,” she said. “Being post-abortive myself, I wanted to make sure other women were fully informed of all their choices, unlike my situation."
Located near Bowling Green State University, the center is the first place many students turn to when they are faced with an unplanned pregnancy. Last year, almost half of the center’s clients came from BGSU. Resources offered through the pregnancy center can give students the confidence they need to make an educated decision about their pregnancy, and one that is based on facts instead of fear.
“[Students] are so important to reach because they are easily swayed into believing the lie that abortion is the answer for their unplanned pregnancy,” said Jolynne Pike, development director for the center. “They are pursuing their hopes, dreams, and goals and we can provide them with information to empower them to make an informed decision. With all the information, these women will oftentimes make a parenting or adoption plan.”
One BGSU student and Bowling Green Pregnancy Center client said, “I honestly was thinking about aborting the baby if I was pregnant. I was not ready. The pregnancy results were faint, so they did an ultrasound and I saw a big head and a little body and I started to cry because I didn’t see myself killing a half grown baby. "
The client chose to parent, gave birth to a daughter and continued her education.
"I was sad when I found out I was pregnant because I thought I would have to stop my goals," she said. "I had a talk with God and I didn’t have to stop my goals, I just had to go at them in a different route.”
Tweet This: "I started to cry because I didn't see myself killing a half grown baby."
Similar stories will be shared at the Celebrating Hope Gala along with a much-anticipated message by Stanek.
Stanek, known for her bold yet compassionate stance regarding the sanctity of life, witnessed horrifying and inhumane procedures taking place at a hospital where she worked as a nurse. Stanek said babies who had survived abortions were left to die in the hospital. Their tiny, frail bodies were laid next to urinals or taken to soiled utility rooms, just breaths away from death.
During her time at the hospital, Stanek identified as pro-life but preferred not to be ‘personally involved’ in the work. Her mindset would change one night during a hospital shift as a 21-22 week old baby with Down Syndrome lay dying in her arms after surviving an abortion.
“I didn’t want him to die alone,” she said. “I held him and that’s what converted me.”
Stanek said she admires the work of pregnancy help centers and believes the centers are a critical component to the success of the pro-life movement.
“Pregnancy resource centers are vital to the movement in that they walk the walk, where maybe people like me talk the talk," she said, "but they physically help not just pregnant mothers but the families and the dads and help them become better parents, and lead them back to the Lord or to the Lord for the first time."
Several years ago, Stanek too walked through the doors of a pregnancy help center.
“Back when I was 19, I got pregnant and I wasn’t married,” she said. “I did drop into a pregnancy center for a pregnancy test and some literature.”
Stanek had her baby, a son, who is now 39 and a married father to five of her 9 grandsons.
The Celebrating Hope Gala is open to the public and will also include live music and an art presentation. Interested parties are strongly encouraged to register for the event by contacting the Bowling Green Pregnancy Center at 419-354-4673.
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