Volunteers help expectant moms with nowhere to turn
January 10, 2007
"If you are pregnant, afraid, alone, please call us at (435) 714-9300." Although likely a terrifying position to be in, the Gabriel Project volunteers who stand behind this message are there to befriend those women, offering help, resources, and most of all, hope.
Mickey Adams-Grames can relate. She had a member of her family who was an unwed mother-to-be. She also had to go it alone in her own life. "I was a single mother for 17 years," said Adams-Grames, who now a mentor for the Gabriel Project. "I have a message to give there is hope, and you can accomplish great things as you raise a child."
Joni Carrillo, from Kamas is a Gabriel Project volunteer / mentor. She has four children, two whom she adopted, one named Gabriel. When she heard of the need for mentors, through her parish, she wanted to become involved.
The Gabriel Project is a nation-wide, church-based outreach organization which began in 1991. Arlene Helfand the local coordinator of the project, established the local chapter about a year ago. Helfand said that she and the six volunteers she works with do not proselytize. The faith and marital status of the mother do not matter. "We’re here only as mentors," Helfand said.
Helfand stressed that everything is kept confidential. Anyone who calls only has to give a first name. Whether the pregnant woman, friend or family member calls, volunteers want to help. That help includes suggesting community resources, such as health facilities, educational programs to help the mother make a life for herself and her child, and any other services which may benefit the mother. Mentors meet with the woman as long as she feels she needs the support and assistance.
But it’s not only the immediate needs of the expectant mother that the Gabriel Project looks at. Future goals become an important part of a mother making a life for herself and her child. "We want to help them with goals of improving their skills, finding jobs, and making plans to create income," Adams-Grames said.
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Any expecting mother under 18 years of age needs permission from her parents before the Gabriel Project can help her. But Helfand wanted to reassure young pregnant women that they would not be reported to anyone. To receive the permission of the parents, Helfand said that mentors could discuss with the expectant mother, ways to tell parents of the pregnancy. Mentors will accompany the woman to talk with her parents, if the woman would like them to.
On Dec. 30, in West Valley City, a baby was left at a church. The Safe Haven Law enacted in Utah in 2001 allows for any baby less than three days old to be left with staff in a hospital with no questions asked, and no search for the parents. Although the baby found in the church was thought to be older than three days, police decided not to search for the mother.
While Safe Haven has provided an out for a parent or parents who feel they are unable to care for their newborn, Adams-Grames said with mentors helping such parents during the pregnancy, that would be a situation they could hopefully avoid. "We can provide help and resources and eliminate fear and anxiety," she said.
"We want the woman to see the experience in a positive light," Helfand said. "She is not alone and does not need to be afraid. Her experience can even enrich her life."
For more information, or to donate to the Gabriel Project, call (435) 714-9300. The Gabriel Project also requests diapers and baby clothing.