New crisis pregnancy center aims to save babies, empower moms Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Mary C. Uhler, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012 -- 12:00 AM
A homelike environment will welcome women to the Women’s Care Center-Madison, the new crisis pregnancy center on Madison’s east side. Pictured are Ann Manion, left, national director, and Angela Gorenc, local center director. To view or purchase photos from this event go to: (Catholic Herald photo/Kat Wagner)

MADISON — Comfortable chairs, bins of children’s books, and beautiful pictures of women and children — these are some of the things that greet visitors at the new Women’s Care Center-Madison (WCCM) located at 3711 Orin Rd. on Madison’s east side.

It is like walking into someone’s home. “We want to make our centers warm and inviting,” said Ann Manion, the national director of Women’s Care Centers.

Choosing life

Manion was visiting WCCM the week before the pregnancy center opened on January 17. She said the Women’s Care Center model is an effective one. “Ninety-seven percent of the women who come to our centers choose life for their babies,” she said. “So many lives are touched.”

Like most of the 18 Women’s Care Centers located in four states (Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin), WCCM is located right across the street from the Planned Parenthood abortion facility.

Those founding WCCM hope that some of the women coming to the Planned Parenthood Clinic will look across the street and see a sign for the Women’s Care Center-Madison. They hope these women will decide to stop at the Women’s Care Center first.

Receiving a warm welcome

At the WCCM, they will receive a warm welcome in a peaceful, home-like environment. They will be met by a caring staff and will be able to receive free ultrasounds and pregnancy testing. They can learn the facts about abortion and find out about how they can receive help to overcome the obstacles that make them think abortion is their only choice.

“The foremost goal of WCCM is to save the lives of unborn babies,” said Greg Wagner, who has helped spearhead the development of WCCM. Most women who visit a Women’s Care Center are led to make an educated, loving decision to choose life for their babies, either to parent themselves or to place them with a loving adoptive family.

Birth of an idea

Women’s Care Center-Madison came about because of a dedicated group of volunteers, many of whom have been involved in Vigil for Life in Madison, which offers a prayerful, peaceful witness at the Madison Planned Parenthood Clinic 365 days a year.

In March of 2010, one couple was praying in front of the Planned Parenthood facility. They noticed a “for sale” sign on the property located directly across the street from the clinic.

After a nine-day novena of prayer, the couple discerned that God was calling them to purchase this property for the cause of saving babies.

They found two other pro-life couples and together they purchased the property in May of 2010 under the name, Our Lady of Victory, LLC. Many ideas were discussed as to how to best use this property in trying to promote a culture of life.

Care center model

The group investigated the Women’s Care Center located in South Bend, Ind. Founded by Dr. Janet Smith, the center has been operating for over 25 years. Seventeen other crisis pregnancy centers have opened in four states, including one in Milwaukee.

The local group decided to imitate the Women’s Care Center model in Madison, but WCCM would not be a branch of the organization but rather a licensee. WCCM has its own board of directors, including two diocesan priests as advisors, and was responsible for raising all of the funds needed to renovate and operate the center.

Building permits were obtained from the City of Madison in February of 2011. Many volunteers worked to gut the inside of the building located on the property. Construction professionals were hired, many of whom contributed some or all of their labor.

Bishop Robert C. Morlino encouraged donors to support this project. With permission of the bishop, the Women’s Care Center will have a chapel, which will contain a tabernacle. The presence of the Blessed Sacrament will be on site at all times.

Many people contributed funds to the project, including the Knights of Columbus, who purchased an ultrasound machine.

Supports women, babies

Manion said the ultrasound machine is very important. “It helps women to bond with their babies,” she said. “They see their baby and hear the heartbeat.”

She emphasized that the Women’s Care Center supports women both before and after the baby is born. There will be parenting skills classes, abstinence education, and self-sufficiency training.

By participating in classes, parents can obtain coupons to help obtain cribs, car seats, diapers, and new baby clothing available through the center’s “Crib Club.”

Angela Gorenc, BS, RN, has been hired as the WCCM director, along with nurse Mary Markielewski and counselor Kate Rossing. They all received training at the South Bend office. Dr. Michael Kloess, who operates Our Lady of Hope Clinic in Madison, is the center’s medical director.

Gorenc, a member of St. John the Baptist Parish in Waunakee, has worked as a nurse for a mid-wife clinic in Madison and has experience in women’s health education. “This was a nice fit for me,” she said of her new position. “I love to teach, I love women’s health, and I love babies. It all seemed to come together.”

Outpouring of support

WCCM will work closely with the St. Vincent de Paul Society (clothes and cribs), Catholic Multicultural Center (referrals), and Catholic Charities (adoption).

“We’re blessed that everything is falling into place,” said Gorenc. “We’re grateful for the outpouring of support.”

She and Manion thanked Greg Wagner for his efforts. “He’s faith-filled and tenacious,” said Manion. “This wouldn’t have happened without him.”

Wagner himself said the mission of the care center depends on Vigil for Life. “It’s a beautiful marriage of prayer and works,” he said.

The center now needs to raise money for its operating budget. Contributions to the Women’s Care Center-Madison may be sent to P.O. Box 10, Cross Plains, WI 53528.

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