Worried. Confused. Lost. That is what many women are feeling when they arrive at the center. When someone walks through the door of the house-turned-center on Walnut Street in downtown Lansing, she sees bright colors, baby items along the wall and friendly faces willing to help. The Shared Pregnancy Women’s Center has been helping pregnant women in the greater Lansing area for more than 25 years. They offer free pregnancy tests, non-diagnostic ultrasounds, lay counseling, maternity clothes, referrals for medical care, housing and adoption counseling. In 2009 the Center had 5120 client contacts, and 2010 has been even busier. “I get asked a lot what ‘Shared Pregnancy’ is supposed to mean,” said Saralee Howard, executive director of the non-profit agency. “Shared Pregnancy means that we are sharing in the process as much as we can. We want to lend the support necessary to make her feel like she can get through this challenging or unexpected pregnancy.” The center also offers women an opportunity to learn skills that will be helpful when they become mothers called Learn and Earn. There are various classes and videos the women watch to earn points. The points are redeemed for baby items including diapers, baby clothing, supplies and equipment. The center is open to anyone who has a need, and also offers resources to expectant and new fathers who are learning about being a dad and are earning points for baby items. “We’re really encouraging dads to be involved in the pregnancy, “ said Howard. “Over 16 percent of our clients are dads.” Although the center is Christian-based, those entering the agency do not have to subscribe to a particular faith to receive services. There are discussion groups and Bible studies available. “When a young woman or couple comes into the center, it is so important to wrap our love around them so that they know we care about them and the child,” Howard said. “When I have an opportunity to make a difference in a young woman’s life through support and information, I can’t imagine a more gratifying job.” The center is always in need of volunteers and donations. The center will accept baby clothes for children under the age of two, diapers, wipes, baby shampoo and other essential items. Women at the center are always in need of cribs, rockers, car seats and high chairs. Financial donations to support the ongoing efforts are always appreciated. “We have had a foundation of supporters for many years,” Howard added. “We love when the community gets creative. Many individuals throw baby showers to support the agency and bring the items to the center. The families who receive these items are extremely grateful.” Those wishing to support Shared Pregnancy Women’s Center are invited to take a tour, sign up to volunteer or donate. Visit www.sharedpregnancy.org to learn more.
Tiffany Dowling is the Founder and President of M3 Group, a full-service branding agency located in downtown Lansing, Mich. She is also owner and publisher of Capital Area Women’s LifeStyle Magazine and the Greater Lansing Business Monthly. Dowling has helped businesses and organizations with branding needs for more than a decade. Learn more at www.m3group.biz.