Making Myself Available: Volunteering at the Women’s Care Center

Written by: Alaina Fortkamp 

“What should I do with all my free time?” I kept finding myself asking this question in my head, and I decided it was time to actually do something about it. This is my first year in Bloomington (and in general) as a non-student, a wife, and a full-time professional. The hours I used to spend doing homework are now devoted to laundry, washing dishes, cooking (sometimes), and, well, free time. 

I was looking for a way to integrate myself more into the Bloomington community, but more than that, I wanted to take part in the pro-life movement. No, not by posting about it on Facebook—rather, something that would actually make a positive impact on others. 

I had heard about the Women’s Care Center (WCC), but all I really knew was that it’s right next to Planned Parenthood (and that it’s kind of the opposite of PP). I looked into the organization more, and I fell in love with their life-affirming message. I spoke with my friend Alexandra, who explained that WCC helps women make pro-life decisions for themselves AND their preborn children without being “preachy” or overtly religious. The staff and volunteers just help the ladies and their kids feel safe and loved.  

I felt that immediately as I walked through the door with Alexandra on my first visit as a volunteer babysitter. Rather than immediately pushing abortion access and birth control onto women when they enter a cold, sterile building, the ladies at WCC kindly greeted me in the warm, inviting lobby and talked with me about how I could help the women they served. There were no pamphlets about abortion or birth control or safe sex. Rather, all the material I saw was geared toward pregnant women who were in a tight spot but wanted to give their babies a chance. I loved that. 

To be honest, I was a bit outside of my comfort zone during my first babysitting shift. I think most of that was due to still learning about the organization and meeting the kids (and their moms) for the first time. My second shift went even better, and this time, I brought Nicole, an IU student, with me. She and I fell in love with the little guys and gals we got to watch while their moms (and a few moms-to-be) had a post-Valentine’s Day pampering session.  

I was so glad I got to play with those kids and love on them. At the same time, I felt so humbled and grateful that I could give their mothers just a few minutes of well-deserved quiet time and relaxation. My only regret is that I didn’t volunteer sooner! I’ve had the time for a while; it was just a matter of figuring out a way to encourage others to choose life and making myself available to serve. 

Guest Post: Our Victory at Liberty University

Guest Post from Kyle Eisenhuth

I am a student at Liberty University, and our pro-life group changed campus policy to allow pregnant students to stay in the dorms if they so choose.

Previously, our code of conduct was ambiguous; all it said was that students who engage in sex that results in pregnancy should “self-report their wrongdoing.” When I looked for clarification, everyone I contacted ignored me or sent me to a different office.

Fast-forward six months to Fall 2017 at a university-wide townhall. My question was: “What is Liberty’s policy if a student becomes pregnant in regard to discipline and housing?” After 10 seconds of awkward silence, I was basically told pregnancy is handled case by case.

Afterwards, two individuals high up at Liberty privately explained that women cannot remain in a dorm room once they discover they are pregnant, as to “protect the health of the women and the unborn baby.”

There were families set aside from Thomas Road Baptist Church who were willing to take in pregnant students. However, not everyone wants to leave their hallmates and go live with strangers. I began to realize that at the world’s largest Christian university, it is easier to have a secret abortion than to choose life.

After more calls, visits, and emails that went nowhere, I did some research. I realized that Title IX made it illegal for colleges to prohibit pregnant students from living in the dorms.

I read the letters between Liberty and the Department of Education which I found on SFLA’s website. I am not a lawyer, but it seemed Liberty is only exempt from the abortion parts of Title IX (which is awesome).

On my second visit to the Title IX office, after several calls and emails, the head of the department told me that “my concerns had inspired conversation higher up than her.” In hindsight, this was encouraging information. However, at the time, it seemed like another cop out.

With another townhall on the horizon, I gathered the letters between Liberty and the Department of Education, read the Title IX regulations, quoted what the letters said, and explained our current policy. Afterwards, I asked, “In light of all this, doesn’t Liberty’s policy discriminate against pregnant students?” The panel answered that they cannot discuss legal issues.

Two weeks later, the Dean of Students came up to me randomly and asked if I was with Students for Life.

He then proceeded to tell me that the policy regarding pregnant students would be changed. As of Fall 2018, pregnant students are permitted to stay in the dorms, should they choose. Further, they can also be automatically approved to live off-campus.

When a young woman faces an unplanned pregnancy, Christians should support her, not evict her from her housing. Thank you, Liberty University, for supporting women who choose life.

Recruiting For Your Group

By David Cordaro, Upper Midwest Regional Coordinator (IA & IL)

Located just a ten-minute walk from the University of Alabama, the West Alabama Women’s Center in Tuscaloosa is the largest abortion facility in the state. They commit about 70 abortions per week out of their misleadingly wholesome-looking façade amongst real medical offices.

Georgia Gallagher is the President of Bama Students for Life, a group with over 200 members on their email list and recently described as one of the most “tight-knit” groups on campus.  Bama Students for Life shifted the focus of their group this semester to making abortion in Tuscaloosa obsolete, hitting hard on our Industry Impact pillar. The students set up a table every other week in their student center to both educate the student population on pro-life issues as well as recruit new members. A typical display includes a tri-fold with the bi-weekly theme, a contact sheet, and numerous SFLA drop cards. They host the table from 10:00am to 3:00pm, hitting the late morning and lunch traffic. They always have at least two students present, with no more than five.

Rather than continue with this basic tabling routine indefinitely, Georgia decided to get intentional with their work and collect hard data each time they were out tabling. She wanted to find the most effective way of recruiting through tabling, as well as determine which method students most preferred. Her group recorded how many names were received at the end of the day and what percentage of those students attended their meeting the following week.

During the weeks that followed, they collected names and emails using the following methods: laptop with Excel spreadsheet, iPad with Google Form, and the classic paper and pen method. Regardless of the sign-up type, they followed up with the students or faculty within 24 hours. The group even had pre-set messages ready for those who identified as pro-life and those who identified as pro-choice.

Keeping the tabling time and the response emails a constant, Georgia and her group found that the iPad method was the most effective way of both collecting the most contacts and having the highest turnout at the following meeting. At their highest, they collected 18 contacts in one day, and had six of them show up to the meeting the following week- a fantastic 33%!

Because of bi-weekly tabling, using iPad technology, and always following-up within 24 hours, their group has grown to a typical meeting attendance of about 20 people each week. While tangible data from the West Alabama Women’s Center won’t be revealed until they release their annual report, we don’t yet know the impact this has made on local abortion rates. But we do know the group on campus is growing, with more and more individuals are lighting the candle and igniting the flame for life and growing the movement one person at a time.

Read Georgia’s Full Paper Here

Two Students for Life Groups Raise Nearly Thousands of Dollars

They say everything’s bigger in Texas, and there seems to be no exception when it comes to scholarship fundraising for pregnant and parenting students. As part of our 5 Pillar Program, Students for Life heavily promotes aiding mothers in need through Supportive Services. How this is carried out can vary greatly and may include anything from diaper drives and baby showers to babysitting during finals week. Students at two Texas universities have taken their Supportive Services duties to heart after noticing a number of student mothers in need and have sprung into action in a huge way.

When we imagine fundraising efforts initiated by a student group, we typically think of a few hundred dollars to buy textbooks or baby items (an incredibly helpful endeavor, we might add). But in true Texas fashion, the Pro-Life Aggies at Texas A&M University took it a step further. Over the course of a school year, they raised over $30,000 for scholarships for 15 pregnant and parenting students on their campus. This group worked tirelessly to make a life-changing difference for these women. The key to their success was a 5K they named “Run for Their Lives.” The race was hugely lucrative, as well as heartwarming when the group ended the event by awarding the scholarships to the women in person. They also raised additional funds by speaking at their local churches and putting ads in their church bulletins.

Down the road at the University of Texas, Texas Students for Life was working on a similar project. Where A&M impressed with their quantity, UT impressed with their speed. The group raised money for five scholarship applicants in under 24 hours after they couldn’t just choose one of the deserving women for the one scholarship they had raised. They said:

“Originally this semester, we had planned to give out one $1000 scholarship to a pregnant and/or parenting student on campus. Last year, our biggest problem was finding people to apply. This year, we had FIVE absolutely deserving women apply. Our president, Alicia Torres, after interviewing one of the applicants, decided that we were going to raise an additional $4000 so that we could give a scholarship to all the applicants. We called everyone we knew, shared posts on social media, and did everything we could. In just under 24 hours, we raised the $4000. In total after the 24 hours had passed, we raised additional money through the campaign totaling over $8000 in scholarship funds. Not only were we able to give a scholarship to all of the women who applied, we were also able to get a head start on next year’s scholarship.”

This is what being pro-woman is all about. Being awarded these scholarships could very well have made the difference between a diploma and dropping out for any of these women. This type of loving community support is exactly what needs to be in place nationwide in order to make abortion unthinkable. With this network of compassionate help, no woman would ever feel like abortion was her only option. Way to go, guys!

To learn about how you can make a difference for pregnant and parenting students on your campus, contact your SFLA Regional Coordinator.