All Babies Dear: Faith, Compassion and Life Coaching Give Hope to Pregnant Women and New Mothers
When talking to the women who run the activities of the All Babies Cherished Family Assistance Center, it quickly becomes clear that the nonprofit pro-life agency could easily be called “All People Cherished.”
“We stand up for people’s interests,” said program coordinator Mona Doyon in an interview with The Batavian at the ABC foyer at 445 Ellicott Street. “We give them the resources they need and help them realize that they can keep their child. A lot of them come here really scared and overwhelmed and then they realize they can do it.
“They are making a choice for life and we are doing our best to work with other agencies in the county to give them the help they need. Sometimes this involves healing with other family members and getting family support. “
Existing in Batavia for 25 years, ABC is a Christian organization and, in addition, a ministry that focuses on helping women and their families in their “life choices” from pregnancy to birth and beyond. , said Executive Director Sue Sherman.
ABC staff and volunteers were also involved in the adoption process, she said, working primarily with Bethany House in Rochester.
The agency receives a small amount of funding from United Way, but is largely supported through donations, church sponsorships, and its fundraising efforts.
Currently, Sherman and Doyon are working with volunteer Lucille DiSanto on ABC’s main fundraiser – its Fall Festival of Vendors on Saturday, October 23 in the lobby of the City Center Mall. Nearly 80 sellers have signed up to take part in the 25e Birthday party.
‘A CHRIST CENTERED ZONE OF JUDGMENT’
Calling ABC “a Christ-centered non-judgmental zone,” Sherman said their main goal is to run a wide variety of parenting classes for moms, dads, grandparents, and in some cases, extended family members.
Those who attend the courses – they take place on the second floor of the establishment – receive credits which allow them to receive free basic necessities for their babies, toddlers and young children.
Course topics include information on pregnancy, newborn care, postpartum symptoms, how to budget, how to save money, and successful parenting techniques. Regular Bible study classes are also offered.
“Usually our program has been put in place to benefit parents of children 3 and under,” said Sherman, who served as general manager for five years. “We’ve expanded that – we have older kids, 4, 5, 6 years old. We can help you with the clothes or items you need.
“In addition, we help parents who come here with teenagers in difficulty and who have different problems. They do not receive material goods, but they come to us because they need help.
Sherman said some women are mandated to come to ABC through the probation department or child welfare or social services department, and are required to take parenting classes.
So far, more than 540 courses have been taught in the past 12 months, Doyon said.
Assistance is also provided when ABC receives a call from the hospital asking for help for women who have just given birth.
“And many times we get involved to help mothers get their children back,” Doyon advised. “They may have a child or a few children at 2 or 3, and now we are helping them get their children back because of their mother’s addiction, for example.”
In all cases and in all situations, Doyon stressed that “whoever walks through our door, we will help him”.
‘WE WANT THEY TO FEEL THE DIFFERENCE ‘
“We want them to feel the difference. When they walk through the door… we want them to feel the presence of the Lord and we want them to feel loved and respected, and to feel that compassion.
Sherman said all races and religions are welcome.
“We are here to help and encourage you. We are not here to judge you. Often girls tell us it’s the only place they’ve heard anything encouraging in their entire life, ”she said.
She also noted that many clients have not graduated from high school, are recovering from substance use, or have been victims of family violence. She said about a third of their clients at any given time are homeless – or “jump on the couch – not knowing where they’re going to rest their heads tomorrow.”
“And some of them are in all categories,” she said.
To that end, Sherman said she was happy to announce that ABC has just closed a house that will be used as temporary accommodation for the homeless women being served.
“I spoke to our donor base for years, letting them know we needed housing,” she said. “A donor gave us a house nearby and we just closed earlier this month. No program is in place yet, but next year we can have half of this house for up to three women – with their child or children.
SPECIAL EVENTS FOR THE NEXT MONTH
DiSanto, who coordinates the Fall Vendor Festival on October 23 at the downtown mall, said it was shaping up to be a huge event.
“We now have 76 vendors – artists, artisans, craftspeople, quilters, direct sales, carpenters and more, as well as children’s games and a visit from Santa,” she said.
Sandy Chappius, owner of Chap’s Diner in Elba, will be catering for the festival, which is scheduled from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The public is invited free of charge.
The agency will host a free online fundraiser at 7 p.m. on October 28, also commemorating its 25e year.
Alexandra Andrews, resident of Le Roy, will tell her story as an abortion survivor.
A wife and mother of three, she said her testimony centered on how God revealed his plan for her life, bringing her out of an orphanage in Russia to share a message of mercy, healing and forgiveness.
A registered nurse, Andrews is an active member of her church and sits on the ABC board of directors.
Doyon and Sherman are the only full-time employees at ABC. They are assisted by an accountant five hours a week and a half-dozen volunteers who organize donations, help with fundraising and provide other supports.
They said they would welcome an experienced grants writer willing to provide volunteer assistance. The agency is overseen by a volunteer board of directors.
ABC is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday to Wednesday and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday.
For more information on programming or special fundraising events, call 344-5660, go to www.allbabiescherished.com Where www.facebook.com/AllBabiesCherishedPregnancyCenter/
Photo above: Executive director Sue Sherman, left; Program coordinator Mona Doyon and fall festival coordinator Lucille DiSanto. photo below: Wall on a wall at the ABC office at 445 Ellicott St. Photos by Mike Pettinella.