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Pregnant? Need Help? Consider the “Options”

By Keith Moore – Managing Editor

“When I came to Options I didn’t know what to do,” said one lady who recently found the help she was looking for at Options Pregnancy Clinic of Ava. “I was pregnant with our second child. That would mean two babies under a year.”

Another says: “I was scared and didn’t know exactly what to do.”

These are typical comments from women who have visited Options Pregnancy Clinic and chose to continue their pregnancies, and are now thrilled at having given birth to healthy babies.

Both women are married, one for over two years. The other, as indicated above, just gave birth to her second child.

LeaAnn Crum, director of Options Pregnancy Clinic, says the facility receives calls every day from people who just need answers. Some are at a crossroad and don’t know which way to go. Others believe they have made their decision but just need to confirm it. Still others actually call Options Pregnancy Clinic believing it is an abortion clinic.

Regardless of the nature of the call, no matter if it is a mother who already has children and believes she can’t deal with another pregnancy or a teenager looking for a way out, everyone who calls is invited to come in and visit.

As a Christian based facility, staff members pray with their clients and share God’s love with them. Options is financed entirely by local donations, with area churches providing much of the funding. They receive nothing from the government, therefore, there are no boundaries when it comes to religious influence.

As the wife of a local pastor, Crum does not hedge when it comes to sharing her faith with each client. Occasionally she sees a drastic change take place in a life. For example, one of the ladies who shared her story for this article said her husband was very skeptical. In fact, he was a self-declared atheist.

But as the classes continued and time was spent with friends at Options, he began to change his mind.

LeaAnn said at first, when she prayed with the wife, he would excuse himself and leave the room. There was never any pressure forced on him to stay, but after awhile be began to soften. LeaAnn says she still remembers the day it was the husband who suggested that they needed to pray about a circumstance. “Now he boldly declares that he is a believer,” says his wife.

Not all calls are from pregnant girls. Many calls received at Options Pregnancy Clinic are from parents and grandparents, both men and women, who believe they are making the best choice for a family member.  And they come from all walks of life.

A girl who was dating the son of a pastor was told by the boy’s father to “get rid of it” when it was announced that she was pregnant.

In the 6½ years that Options Pregnancy Clinic has been open in Ava, staff personnel have seen around 165 clients. That does not count the many telephone calls and those who come in just for a pregnancy test or to pick up brochures.

For whatever reason, the caseload has doubled this year. LeaAnn says in just this calendar year the clinic has already seen 25 clients. Without the assistance of Lacey Wallace who has joined the clinic as a counselor, Crum says there is no way she could have given the clients the attention they need.

One of the things that Crum finds really disturbing now is the Plan B or “morning after” pill that can be purchased over the counter without a prescription by anyone over the age of 16.

“Women just don’t consider what that is doing to their body,” she said.

Crum says many who come to the clinic for help are victims of a messed-up society. Individuals – and couples – find they cannot afford to work because the benefits they receive on welfare are greater than the benefits of working for wages.

Located at 201 North Jefferson Street, just off the Ava square, Options Pregnancy Clinic is currently operating on about $30,000 a year. In addition to the donations received from churches and private contributors, the clinic holds an annual “Walk For Life” which is coming up on April 21. That “Walk” will be held at the Ava City Park beginning at 9 a.m.

Also, added this year is a competitive 5K run with trophies for the first place male and female finishers, and medals for second and third places.

Plus, everyone who obtains sponsors for the walk or run, and turns in $25 or more, will be eligible for a grand prize drawing for a $500 leather recliner that has been donated. There will also be other drawings for smaller prizes, as well.

In addition to the walk being held at the Ava City Park, a satellite walk is being held the same afternoon at 3 p.m. at Lutie.

“As we started the parenting classes and learned about the baby that was growing inside of me, I began to be excited,” said one mother.

What those mothers learn is that 21 days after conception the baby’s heart begins pumping blood through its body. At around 43 days there were detectable brain waves and around 10 weeks after conception the baby started bending its fingers around objects.

One of the mothers whose story is shared anonymously in this article said, “At our first meeting I knew I couldn’t abort our baby.”

She goes on to say, “With God’s help, and with the support of my family and Options, I raised myself up from where I was and pledged myself to my children. My baby was born and I couldn’t be happier.”

By participating in the Options prenatal program, mothers earn points that can be used to “buy” items that will be needed when the baby arrives.

One mother said: “I received everything that I needed before my son was born. They also hosted a baby shower for my son, and I couldn’t believe the generosity of the church that sponsored us! They loved us too! I have true friends at Options and we love this place and all it stands for. Everyone that has an unplanned pregnancy needs to come to Options, They will show you the love and care that you need to see you through and you will have friends that will last a lifetime and be there for you.”

Two area churches will be sponsoring baby showers for a client baby on April 24. Another baby will be arriving in June. The clinic still needs a sponsor or sponsors for that shower.

LeeAnn said this week that it looks like there is going to be a need for lots more showers later this year as more and more clients are making contact with the facility.

Options Pregnancy Clinic is governed by a board of directors, made up of residents of the area. John Neighbour currently serves as president of the board and his wife, Sharon is treasurer. Kathy Miles is vice president and Cathy Thompson is secretary. Terry and Earnestine Buchanan, of Mansfield, also serve on the board.

One of those mothers who came to Options scared and confused said she wanted to be “the best mommy I could be.” Through the support and assurance she received at Options Pregnancy Clinic, she is working toward that end.

Options Pregnancy Clinic is open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. They accept walk-ins, or you can call them at 417-683-2315 or 417-683-9375.

LeaAnn says she never knows where calls are going to come from. Just this week she received a call from someone in St. Louis.

“Because Ava is listed first, we get the first call,” Crum said.