With Mother’s Day approaching in just a couple of days, the Eagle River-based Heart To Heart Pregnancy Resource Center is ramping up its public presence at a time when hearts and minds seem a bit more aware of the valuable role mothers play in our society.
And the center’s executive director and her supporting board are once again combining that awareness with a love of all things chocolate for the organization’s 12 Annual Chocolate For Life scheduled for Fri., May 12 from 7 to 10 p.m. at Community Covenant Church in Eagle River.
The event which includes a silent auction, dessert auction and a dessert competition features Gwen Adams as guest speaker. Adams in the director of Priceless Alaska, an Anchorage-based non-profit working to raise awareness of the sex-trafficking industry in Alaska and to help women escape from it.
“Heart To Heart is here for women before, during and after pregnancy,” Alycia Thomas, executive director, explained. “If someone comes in with a need, we want to do what we can to make sure it is met. Whether it is someone who needs a pregnancy test, someone who needs diapers or clothes for their children, or someone who just needs someone to talk to, we are here for them. We want to show everyone who walks in our door the love of Christ – not just with words, but with actions. We want to serve the community by helping those in need, and the Chugiak-Eagle River community has been such a great partner in helping us do so.”
The center is unashamedly pro-life and offers free pregnancy tests for women facing unplanned pregnancies. Thomas said she often finds that most clients coming in to confirm an unplanned pregnancy are not wishing to end the pregnancy, but are often scared and alone at the time of pregnancy confirmation facing a lack of support needed to see the pregnancy through to birth and possible adoption or raising the child with help from family and friends or the community in general.
[quote]“So often, a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy wants to give that child life, she just needs supports to do so and that is where we step in,” Thomas said.[/quote]
However, that isn’t the main service it provides to the community free of charge through a yearly budget of $60,000 supported by local donors and grants.
Thomas said that on average perhaps five to ten of the 80 to 100 clients that come through the center’s doors each month are seeking to confirm an unplanned pregnancy. The rest of the clients – the bulk of the clients – are young mothers trying to make ends meet. They are the unseen side of this bedroom community often described in terms of high socio-economic status, but they are there and Thomas sees them every Tuesday through Friday when the center is open. Some are single mothers working two jobs; some are married and working with a husband that also works but it underemployed. They need diapers; they need formula; they need clothing and most of all, Thomas said, they need encouragement.
“In reality, the bulk of our clients are single moms and struggling families that desperately need our help,” she said. “It is all about building relationships. We have some that come in just because they know this is a safe place where they can talk about what is going on in their lives and get support to face the next day.”
Heart To Heart is working in conjunction with the Knights of Columbus to acquire an ultrasound machine for the center. Thomas knows many of her clients are without insurance or cannot afford the steep co-pay cost of an ultrasound. One of her dreams is to provide ultrasounds to center clients. It is a medical procedure that can give reassurance to a pregnant woman that the child she is carrying is progressing appropriately through gestation.
Adding locally-taught parenting classes and support groups is another 2017 goal for the center, Thomas said.
Admission to Friday night’s event is no charge. Donations are encouraged. Tables of eight can be reserved for $100.
Learn more about Heart To Heart online at www.h2hprc.org. Call the center at 694-1747 or visit in person at its location between MTA and Subway at 12110 Business Blvd in Eagle River.
Editor’s Note: John “LJ” Kennedy, publisher of the ECHO News, and I are scheduled to join Dana Thorp Patterson, executive director of the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce, and Sarah Dutton, who won last year’s bid to become a judge for 2017, as judges for this year’s event. Twist our arms, lol. This year’s event offers another opportunity to bid on being a judge in 2018.