On the afternoons of Jan. 29 and 31, the Women’s Choice Network hosted the grand opening of a new office located within the confines of The Hosanna House. The community service center, recognizing the needs of such a program within the neighborhood, is excited to house the organization that will make an impact on the lives of the residents of Wilkinsburg and surrounding areas.
Servicing the physical and emotional needs of both teen and adult moms, the Network’s mission empowers abortion-vulnerable women to choose the gift of life by providing “caring, confidential and trusted answers.” One seeking comfort is able to find a solution within the strategically located centers, which are currently located in Oakland, Monroeville, Wexford, and the urban area of Wilkinsburg.
The Network embraces a personal compassion and concern for the life of the unborn. By providing necessary parenting skills, the organization also assists the mother in obtaining other available resources. Assured that education is a key to the future of both the mother and the baby, Women’s Choice Network, not only holds the hand of the scared and the sacred, but walks alongside the young women through the trials before, during and after the pregnancy.
Executive Director Amy Scheuring, who describes the organization as a “ministry,” works with a dedicated group of women and men who are adamant about the preservation of life and are totally committed to make a difference for and in the lives of the unborn.
Serving as director of the Wilkinsburg site, Kimberly Burke brings a very calming nature to the position. Her non-judgmental personality and compassion is a gift she willingly shares with those who seek guidance.
Through an internship and community volunteerism, Burke found her passion within Women’s Choice and now consoles and counsels as she encourages young women down a path where they are able to regain confidence and take control of their own lives. “A lot of women do not think they have the option,” states the young wife and mother. “By presenting options, we also let them know we are there for them as a support and assure them that they are never left alone during this life-changing decision period.”
The agency is becoming instrumental in working to provide a support system for women of all ages. Burke continues, “We provide educational classes that provide the necessary skills and education. We help them deal with the fears and concerns of pregnancy from the beginning of pregnancy through the age of two years of the child. We encourage women to make good decisions in regards to unhealthy relationships. We also provide supportive services for the fathers to help the father become a better father. In the event we cannot provide the services, we reach out to other organizations.”
Assisting Burke on a part-time basis is Diane Carr, a warm, friendly and understanding Wilkinsburg mother who volunteers her time to help these young women. Straight-shooting, the two women are supporters of abstinence and pull no punches as they willingly inform their clients about the dangers of STD’s. The two perceptive women have formed a dynamic and caring team, combining their love, experience and knowledge while incorporating the ideals and Christian beliefs they hold so dear. While the numbers in need are many, the workers are few. Volunteer training will occur on Feb. 13 and 20 at the Oakland center from the hours of 9-1.
Of great success is the “Baby Steps” Program. The comprehensive program offers the mother and/or father extensive education, through attendance at a variety of classes that include nutrition, childbirth, safety, newborn care, postpartum depression and fatherhood, among others. By completing the classes, the moms can earn “dollars” and shop at the “store” located in the offices. The parent can purchase such items ranging from diapers to clothing to cribs.
Members of the Pittsburgh pastoral community, community service leaders, local organizations, board members, and inquisitive young mothers with babies in hand attended the afternoon sessions of the birth of the new center.
Among the attendees was Rev. Eric McIntosh, an attentive associate minister from Sixth Mt. Zion. “I have a special heart and concern for the Black family. It is good to see that a faith-based organization is committed to walking with these young mothers, even after the birth of the child,” he states with deep concern. The Pittsburgh Theological Seminary student has an intense “desire for the church to accept a more active role” on the issue at hand.
Also attending the open house was active Board member Judge Cheryl Allen. Soft-spoken and reserved, the wise humanitarian is deeply disturbed about the killings in the African American nation, be it abortion or Black on Black crime. “We are very concerned in our community in what appears to be the lack of concern for life among our young people. We have sacrificed our children for the sake of convenience.”
Allen’s extensive experience in the juvenile court system arms her with the knowledge, the compassion and the overwhelming desire to change her world. “With help from African-American leaders, we will assure that the life-affirming and life-changing resources of pregnancy care ministries are readily available in these previously underserved communities.”
Once again, Hosanna House is home for another organization that will serve the needs of Wilkinsburg and surrounding communities. Women’s Choice Network is already proving to be one of those valued organizations as they strive to change the voice of confusion to the voice of choice…attained because of the gifts of the joy of giving and unconditional love.ousH