Our Supporters’ Stories
Embraced by Love
As a child, Deanna occasionally went to Jehovah’s Witness meetings with her grandmother, especially memorable because they’d go to McDonald’s afterward. Otherwise she had no connection to a church.
Faced with an unplanned pregnancy, Deanna visited a pregnancy help center not in her hometown. There she learned about an Embrace Grace support group at One Hope Community Church in Burlington, Ky.
(L-R) Joei and Joetta welcomed Deanna and Alicia to One Hope Community Church’s first Embrace Grace class.
Embrace Grace is a Christ-centered program that helps churches minister to young women who’ve chosen life for their babies despite sometimes difficult circumstances. Care Net has long appreciated partnering with churches, where our clients can find the long-term stability and spiritual nurturing only a church family can provide. At the time of Deanna’s visit, One Hope Community Church was launching its first Embrace Grace classes.
At first, Deanna wasn’t sure about joining the Embrace Grace group. She worried people at the church might be “judge-y.” But she did join, and since completing the 12-week Embrace Grace program, she has come back to church several times.
One Hope became an Embrace Grace church after leaders decided to invite a guest speaker from Care Net to help kick off their baby bottle campaign. After the service, the speaker, Care Net staffer Sherry Pinson, sought out worship leader Joetta Browning.
“This church is so down-to-earth and welcoming,” Sherry told Joetta. “I really think you’d be a great Embrace Grace church.”
Joetta checked out Embrace Grace, got the go-ahead from Pastor Steve Anderson, and completed online training with another member, Joei. Though usually not one to put herself forward, Joei was especially interested in the ministry; she hadn’t grown up in church and also had had an unplanned pregnancy.
Three other women responded to One Hope’s Facebook post about the new Embrace Grace group, and one of them, Alicia, followed through. Alicia also had attended church with her grandmother, and her parents eventually became Christians. Deanna and Alicia met with Joetta and Joei weekly for study, activities, videos and snacks. One meeting was Princess Day, when the women had their hair, makeup and nails done—a treat as they adjusted to being pregnant. A professional photographer donated her services to capture the fun event.
The church also treated the women to a joint baby shower. One Hope is a small church—about 40 members—so they fulfilled one wish list and sent the other list to local Catholic churches. Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Burlington not only was the collection point for that list but also provided childcare for Deanna’s and Alicia’s other children during Embrace Grace meetings.
At the final meeting, women from local churches and a professor from Northern Kentucky University shared their own testimonies of choosing life for their babies.
“The women think they’ll never make something of themselves,” Joetta said. “The testimonies are a big encouragement.”
As their own Embrace Grace experience ended, both Deanna and Alicia asked to come back on closing night of the next class to give their own testimonies. That class began at the end of January.
Learn more about Embrace Grace at embracegrace.org. If you begin an Embrace Grace ministry or have a similar outreach to young women who’ve chosen life, please let Care Net know so we can refer our clients to you.
One Hope Community Church and several Catholic churches in the area provided gifts for a combined baby shower (left). Deanna (center) and Alicia (right) enjoy some TLC on Princess Day.
Front Row Seat to a Miracle
On June 30, as part of Seven Hills Church’s Heart the City Week, Michelle Doherty showed up enthusiastic and ready to work at Care Net’s McKinley Family Center in Florence. Her face aglow, she told us why she chose Care Net as her project for Heart the City.
“I wanted to help a nearby pregnancy center because I know exactly what you do and I love you for it!” she said. “Twenty years ago, I had a front-row seat to one of the greatest miracles, if not the greatest miracle, that God has performed in my life. I was only 16, and I found out that I was pregnant. I felt like a disappointment, and I was scared, alone, and ashamed. I told my long-term boyfriend, and he wanted no part of being a father and said I should get an abortion.
“Not knowing who else to turn to, I turned to my family for support. My mom was embarrassed and in shock, and my dad’s only solution was to have an abortion. My mom told me it was my choice, but my dad and grandmother insisted I undergo the abortion. They told me, ‘IT isn’t a baby yet. IT is just a clump of cells,’ and horror stories of women dying in childbirth. They thought it would be a quick fix.
“I told my mom to schedule an appointment to have the abortion. I still remember that day, driving to the downtown Louisville abortion clinic on Main Street like it was yesterday. The emotions are still so raw and so vivid. My anxiety was high, and the words of my dad and grandmother repeated in my head the whole drive. I knew it would all be over in a few hours, and I could get back to my everyday teenage life.
“We parked the car in a parking lot off the main road because my mom didn’t want to risk the chance of being seen by someone she knew. When we got to the door, she was mortified because it was locked, and they had to buzz us in. Those minutes standing outside that door felt like hours. When the door opened, we were greeted by several amazing, kind, and comforting women. This wasn’t the type of abortion clinic environment I envisioned. That’s because it wasn’t an abortion clinic at all. We were at the wrong address; God led us to the pregnancy resource center across the street.
“We apologized for being at the incorrect location, and as we turned to walk out the door, the director of the center asked if I would like to get an exam and ultrasound while I was there. I hesitated but agreed and followed them to the exam room. As I lay on the exam table staring at the blank screen of the ultrasound monitor, nothing could’ve prepared me for what happened next.
“The ultrasound wand was placed, and I could hear the fast whoosh whoosh whoosh of my baby’s heartbeat. As the ultrasound wand was adjusted, I could see my tiny eight-week-old baby girl growing inside me. She was small, but she was not a clump of cells. She was a baby with a heartbeat, DNA, arms, legs and—I didn’t know it yet—the most beautiful brown eyes you’ve ever seen. I knew at that moment that I would choose life for my baby.
“The women I first met at that Louisville pregnancy resource center are still in our lives today. They were with us every step of the way through my pregnancy and after. They prayed with me, supported me, counseled me, gave me maternity clothes and baby supplies, and were there to remind me I was never alone. They were my angels in disguise. And that’s when the seed was planted. I knew I wanted to give back and help others.
“The past 20 years have not been without trial or heartbreak or a few wrong turns along the way, but they have been glorious years. A miraculous gift from God was given to our family on Main Street that morning in June and set the stage for something way bigger than I could have ever imagined. Every trial and triumph, every person the Lord has put in my path, every moment, and every blessing has led me to where I am today. I have felt the Holy Spirit guiding me and leading me to fulfill God’s purpose for my life with such an intense passion I have never experienced before.
“Now I feel it’s time for me to give back. I want to start helping at Care Net. I’m interested in helping my church start pregnancy help ministries like Embrace Grace and Bible studies geared to that woman who, just like me 20 years ago, are scared, alone and confused. I want God to use all I’ve been through and all I have learned since for His glory.”
Photos: top, Michelle Doherty; bottom, Michelle with her daughters
The Hands of God
Members of the Needles and Thread Club of Calvary Baptist Church in Latonia literally use their hands for God. On WKRC-TV’s “What’s Happening in Health” show that aired June 20, 2022, Harriet Thompson and her sewing group presented several quilts to Care Net to share with our clients.
Whenever the Needles and Thread Club sees a need they can meet, they get busy sewing, quilting and crocheting. They’ve donated such handmade items as quilts, shawls, hats, and clothing for a variety of needs, including missionaries in Togo, a local hospice and recently humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. The group also teaches sewing and crocheting to homeschooled kids and others. Nearly all the materials they use are donated by local retailers and individuals.
“We just offered our talents and God has provided,” Harriet said. “It’s becoming a lost art and we love to pass along our love and skill to others!” The Needles and Thread Club welcomes new members.
Photo: Denise Melton, Tiffany Gabbert and Lyndi Zembrodt of Care Net (left, second from left, and back) with members of the Needle and Thread Club.
Hebrews 10:24 encourages us to “Spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Talking with Emma does exactly that. Emma, her older brother and younger sister, with help from their mom, make a little spending money from running a Boone County Recorder paper route in a few neighborhoods. Most 12 year olds would happily take their cut of the money and either go on a spending spree each month or squirrel it all away for a big item they’ve been longing for. Emma’s parents, however, encourage tithing to worthy organizations from each “paycheck” and Emma decided she wanted her tithe to go to Care Net.
When asked why, Emma said, “I like children and babies. My mom used to be on the Care Net board of directors so I got to see what Care Net did to help the community. They helped the women who are pregnant see different options. I believe many who can’t take care of their babies ought to choose adoption.”
Emma also said she had helped Care Net Pregnancy Services of Northern Kentucky in other ways. She participated in their Walk for Life, has been to their annual banquet, attended the Right to Life Cross the Bridge event, stuffed envelopes for fundraising, cleaned their buildings, and helped with landscaping. She and her classmates at Classical Conversations even helped raise money through Boone County’s “Trash to Cash” road cleanup program. They picked up trash from 10 miles of road and were able to donate $1,000 to Care Net Pregnancy Services of Northern Kentucky.
As compassionate and giving as Emma is, she is also a 12-year-old girl. She speaks up but has a soft voice and a sweet but shy smile. She enjoys many things a girl of her age would–drawing, painting, soccer, hiking, board games with the family, having fun with friends at American Heritage Girls club and playing the piano. She loves reading stories from Anne of Green Gables, the Elsie Dinsmore series, Nancy Drew Mysteries. She’s not the person who would come to mind when you hear the words “donor” or “volunteer.”
So many people think you must have lots of extra money to donate to causes you think important. “When I become rich, I’m gonna to give money to . . .” is heard way too frequently. But Emma has a different philosophy: “If you like something and you think it should keep going, it’s always a good idea to help keep it going yourself. Give what you can. If you tithe to a good cause then I believe God will give you back more than what you gave in the first place.”
Wouldn’t the world be a better place if more people followed “Emma’s philosophy”?
Thoughts on Being a Male Mentor at Care Net
by Tom Myers
Life is complicated! While that is true for all of us, the complications increase a hundredfold when you are young, financially unstable, from a broken family and/or not finished with your education. Then add an unplanned pregnancy and the world can appear to be crashing down on many of the men who come through the doors of Care Net Pregnancy Services of Northern Kentucky. To be sure, we do have male clients who are somewhat older, from good families and/or who have strong educational or vocational backgrounds. In the end, the only constant among our male clients is the uniqueness of their situations.
As our name implies, Care Net Pregnancy Services of Northern Kentucky have many more women flow through our front doors than men. Still, those men who do come to Care Net are diverse. Most are willing, if not from their own desire to be a good father than from their wives’ or girlfriends’, ahem, recommendations; others are court-ordered either as part of a custody battle or, sadly, after “troubles at home.”
As volunteer male mentors, our role is to shepherd our clients through the wealth of educational programs at Care Net. We build a unique course schedule for each client based on their specific situation and needs. We pull content from educational series such as “The Fatherhood Program,” “First Year,” “Parenting,” “Co-Parenting,” “Life Skills,” “1-2-3 Magic” (a child discipline series) and others. To the excellent content of our educational materials, we add, in each session, our experience as husbands and fathers. Communicating what we’ve learned as fathers makes the educational content real, relevant, and impactful to our clients.
The male mentor must be a good listener, as learning about the client allows the mentor to create the optimal course syllabus for that client. It is also important for the mentor to gain buy-in from the client as quickly as possible. As mentors, we must show our clients not only that we sincerely want to help them but also that our experience as a father is relevant to what they have or will experience.
The male mentor must steel himself against feelings of hopelessness when he confronts a client who is just going through the motions (often those who are court-ordered) and/or those who constantly miss appointments. On the other hand, many clients bring a tear of joy to the eye of a mentor. While in some cases we can never know whether our efforts to help build good husbands and fathers bear fruit, there are times when we do see or hear about the impact we’ve made. One young lady called to say she and her boyfriend had been about to break up. But she called to thank us because after going through just a third of the Fatherhood sessions to date, her boyfriend had changed his behavior a lot towards her and in his acceptance of his shortly becoming a father.
Life is complicated . . . but it also is simple. Whether in church or in our sessions, our clients can learn to love their partners, love their children and love God. We help them learn to make good decisions. And while learning to lead a life of better decisions can’t guarantee a life without struggle, it can go a long way in raising children to be good adults. And that, in the end, is our role.
Post note: Our Fatherhood program is funded by our Golf “Fore” Fathers program in August. Thank you to all those golfers and businesses that support our golf fundraiser. And a special thanks to the men who are willing to train to be male mentors. Your patience and willingness to set aside time each week and say hard things that need to be said and your love for your clients will ultimately be rewarded.
McKinley Family Center
7129 Price Pike
Florence, KY 41042
Cold Spring Center
3700 Alexandria Pike
Cold Springs, KY 41076
103 Barnes Rd, Ste E
Williamstown, KY 41097
24 hour Client Hotline:
(859) 282-9878 | Email us
Client website: www.pregnantoptionsnky.org