Crisis centre’s mission - pro-choice

2017-01-11 06:01
PHOTO: tania sandberg At Choices for Life’s 25th anniversary celebration, Daniele Gradwell (left, former centre director) and founder, Gail Shreiner.

PHOTO: tania sandberg At Choices for Life’s 25th anniversary celebration, Daniele Gradwell (left, former centre director) and founder, Gail Shreiner.

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HER words rang out at the 25th anniversary celebration of Choices for Life.

“Going through my brokenness, my redemption story started. I would like to thank Choices for Life for helping me and others through a crisis pregnancy.

“My daughter is now 12 and I choice parented. I can truly say ‘all things work together for the good for those who love God’.”

She is one of hundreds who has been helped by the centre during the past half a decade to make an informed choice about the future of a child.

“My life changed when I approached the pregnancy crisis centre. I received counselling and good advice.

“They met my every need, spiritually, physically and emotionally. Lives are saved by centres like these,” says another.

Then called the Pregnancy Crisis Centre, Choices for Life was started by Gail Shreiner.

“We had no money, therefore no facilities, no frame of reference. We had no brochures to outline the work, manuals or training material. By today’s standards we were really not equipped to serve.

“We could not pick up the phone and call other centre leaders as this centre was one of the first in South Africa, and even in Africa.”

She said they were pioneering something, not just in “little” Amanzimtoti, but also in Africa.

“My home became the hub where all activities took place in the early days. We counselled women [with crisis pregnancies] on the beach, on benches in parks, at the Wimpy, in our cars. We got the job done and many women received healing through our intervention. Slowly we started to get more structure to the organisation and we changed our name to the Pregnancy Resource Centre,” Shreiner said.

She then felt a need to transition, to expand their work countrywide as other regions requested help, and the centre became instrumental in developing leaders with a similar vision.

“God brought Kim Mitchell to carry on this journey and for the next three years she served us well and tonight I want to honour her and the many support staff, volunteers and boards we had over the years.

“This centre is here because of your input, guidance and leadership. I learnt that when that time comes to hand over it is necessary to move over and let the new driver take hold of the steering wheel,” Shreiner said. Daniele Gradwell took the reins as centre director in 2005.

Gradwell said it is hard to quantify the number of lives the centre has impacted over the years.

Gradwell saw the need to intervene before a “crisis pregnancy” actually occurs and the centre started their school outreach programme in 2008.

“The aim is to reach the ‘abortion vulnerable’ [those at higher risk of having an abortion due to circumstances] before they reach us. As a result we also set up mobile units at universities, hospitals and other learning institutes.”

The programme has led to a decrease in mothers needing a place to stay and the centre now refers mothers needing accommodation to the trauma centre.

The centre also offers abortion recovery help to those who made the choice to abort through partnerships with Africa Cares for Life and Focus on the Family.

Gradwell said the highlight of the year was when the centre changed its name to Choices for Life. Through constantly evaluating their services they realised the need for a new leader and while Gradwell is still very involved, Kelly-Ann Goodwin took over as centre director this year.

Goodwin said even though teenage pregnancy is no longer considered a crisis and there is a belief that there is a decline, statistics indicate otherwise.

In 2013 there were 99 000-plus teenage pregnancies recorded nationwide, with the highest rate being in KwaZulu-Natal with over 26 000.

“Pregnant teens face serious issues, such as not completing school and living below the poverty line,” she said.

Goodwin said the centre had reached 34 966 pupils through their “undiluted” school programme.

“We strongly believe an informed choice is the right choice,” she added.

This year the centre will strive to tackle the problem of “fatherlessness” and other serious issues and will remain true to its mission of speaking the truth, sharing love and bringing hope.

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