Two of the biggest challenges facing The Pregnancy Resource Center in Selma, AL are space and location, which prove to be obstacles to reaching abortion-vulnerable clients in Dallas County.
“The home we are in has about 1200 square feet of usable space,” Executive Director Jennifer Dobbs said. But she said, the biggest problem is its configuration. With two floors, meeting client needs on the first floor is a constant issue.
“We don’t even have a true waiting area,” Dobbs said. “We are using an entrance hallway right now, and that just isn’t working for us.”
On top of that, the center’s Union Street location is off the beaten path. As Dobbs spoke with Pregnancy Help News, she was in the midst of a recurring situation: “We have a client who called us over an hour ago and for 35 minutes she has been trying to find us,” she said. “We can’t help anyone unless they know how to get here.”.
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For several years, the PRC looked for a new location, without success. Until now.
Helen Cross, daughter of the late Dr. Bracey Cross, heard of the PRC’s need while talking with Dr. Park Chittom, chairman of the board at the PRC. Dr. Cross was an area dentist until he passed away three years ago, and the family was considering gifting Dr. Cross’s office, where he practiced from 1978-2011, to a local non-profit.
Sav-A-Life, which operates the PRC, was the perfect choice.
Cross told the Selma Times-Daily, “One of my dad’s sayings was keep it going, and I just knew after three years of trying to do everything we could do to sell it, I could just hear my dad saying ‘keep it going, keep it going,’” Cross said. “It just thrills my heart that this building will go on to continue for good, and he would be pleased to the nth degree.”
For Dobbs, the new space will be perfect. “It has 2500 square feet so that we can expand,” Dobbs said. “It’s going to help so much with ultrasound; we can see more clients here.” The new office space—already more than suitable because of its history as the home of a dental practice—allows room to consider new initiatives, too.
“One of our goals is to establish a men’s ministry, and this new space makes that possible,” Dobbs says. “And, we can hold larger parenting classes.”
As for location, Dobbs could not ask for more. The new offices are on Dallas Avenue, a main thoroughfare in historic Selma. But, the new home for the PRC also has a side street for client confidentiality. “It’s going to be so much easier to find us,” she said.
Currently, the building is under renovation as the PRC works with the local historical association to meet requirements. Dobbs hopes to move ahead soon and complete the move in the fall.
And the timing could not be better, as an abortion clinic in Selma attracts national attention. Over the recent weekend, pro-life leaders marched on Selma to protest an abortion clinic in the city which many claim is operating illegally.
Leaders of the march say Selma’s Central Alabama Women’s Clinic, operated by Dr. Samuel Lett, is not properly registered as an abortion center. Though they say Lett is performing more than the minimum (10) abortions per month and would be subject to abortion clinic regulations, the clinic has not registered as an abortion provider.
While the state of Alabama has been unable to come up with evidence to require Lett to register as an abortion clinic, Catherine Davis of the National Black Pro-Life Coalition says Lett is clearly running an abortion clinic and should fall under state regulations. Speaking to the Selma Times-Journal, Davis said, “In my mind, if they (state regulators) had simply sat in front of his (Lett’s) clinic when the complaint was first filed, they could have seen with their own eyes” that Lett was operating an active abortion clinic.
As Selma becomes a flash point in the abortion debate, Dobbs continues to move forward with her new location. Rebranding with a new name and new signage is next, as is the pending move. For Dobbs, reaching more clients is paramount. “We will now have three client rooms instead of one,” she says. “It’s just amazing to see what God is doing.”