Prior to 2013, women and girls living in Grundy County, Illinois had nowhere to turn for help when experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. Tami Rush learned of this need for services firsthand when a 13-year-old girl asked her if she knew where a friend could take a pregnancy test. Rush and other community members have stepped in by filling the void, expanding and opening the Pregnancy Resource Center (RPC) of Grundy County, Illinois that year.
Almost 10 years later, she and the center’s staff and volunteers continue to meet the needs of their community. A service they offer called Curbside Care offers diapers, wipes, formula, and other necessities every month. The initiative helped raise awareness of the PRC Pregnancy Support Ministry in a key area particularly vulnerable to abortion.
The program began during the COVID pandemic lockdown in Illinois in April 2020, Rush said. She and her team donated supplies every week.
“When the shelter in place arrived, the shelves (of the store) were empty of nappies and formula and within two weeks there was nothing left to have,” recalls Rush, who is executive director of PRC. . “We were like, ‘Okay, we have a stash that’s full of diapers, wipes, formula and other essentials.’ So, we decided that we were going to put on our gloves and our masks, and we were going to find a way to distribute these items.
Curbside Care allowed callers to schedule a pick-up time to show up in the parking lot, open the trunk of their vehicle, receive their items, and leave. As word spread, the community, including churches, joined in the PRC.
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“People just flooded us with Amazon gift packages, and churches restocked our stock so we could keep serving,” Rush said. “We did Curbside Care throughout the shelter-in-place on a weekly basis. When things started to clear up we went to biweekly.
The program has allowed Rush and his staff to not only help their community with baby products, but also to educate the community about the center’s existence.
“Our goal was for babies to have full bellies and clean bottoms, and also educate these mothers about our maternity and parenting education programs,” Rush said. “We wanted them to know that not only could they be educated, but that they had a mentor, someone to talk to when times were tough. So Curbside Care got that word out to us as well.
The care continues
Now monthly, the program takes place every other Thursday. In addition to baby items, a bakery provides a loaf of fresh bread, and sometimes beneficiaries find additional items in their bags donated by people in the community and donors to the center. A leaflet about CRP services, such as pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and programs, is also put in the hands of people receiving Curbside Care.
Recently, a woman who came for baby items referred a pregnant friend who was considering an abortion to the Center for Medical Services and Education Options.
“Our nurses had the opportunity to speak to him. When they asked her how she heard about us, she replied, “My friend came here for diapers,” Rush said. “You never know who we’re going to reach and how.”
The Grundy County Pregnancy Center saw a significant increase in the number of pregnancy tests administered after the shelter-in-place order was lifted.
“We had a 93% increase in our pregnancy tests from 2020 to 2021,” Rush said.
Between October 2020 and October 2021, the central banquet months, the PRC served 526 unique people, she added.
She credits some of those increases to Curbside Care.
“Of course it’s by the grace of God, but if Curbside Care is a way out in our community, then we will continue to do so as long as our partners come alongside us to provide us with the materials to do. so,” Rush said. “You know, we haven’t used any budget to keep doing this.”
Located in Coal City, about 60 miles south of Chicago, the center is close to Interstate 55 between the abortion capital of Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri, where women can also get abortions. . Women traveling on the highway between the two cities can and did stop at the Pregnancy Resource Center.
“We’re right on the I-55 corridor and … people called us from the freeway and said, ‘I was on my way to Chicago to get an abortion, but now I found out I needed a pregnancy check; can I come to your house to do a pregnancy check? “Said Rush. “So we are strategically placed.”
Tweet this: A service offered by the Pregnancy Resource Center called Curbside Care provides monthly diapers, wipes, formula and other necessities.
Strength and service in numbers
The Pregnancy Resource Center, part of the Living Alternative group of 15 centers located in Illinois and Indiana, became a medical clinic in 2018, providing pregnancy tests and ultrasounds along with education options, parenting and adoption classes, abstinence education, maternity clothing and baby supplies, and post-abortion support. The center also offers post-abortion retreats twice a year alongside the Deeper Still organization, Rush said.
Additionally, the Living Alternatives site in Champaign offers a six- to 12-month residential treatment program for women “looking to break free from life control issues,” she said.
“We thrive on the fact that we’re in small communities serving those small communities,” Rush said.
A subsidiary of Heartbeat International, PRC hosted Heartbeat President Jor-El Godsey as a banquet speaker last year, something Rush had wanted for several years.
“I think Heartbeat is the most amazing organization to be affiliated with,” she said. “I’ve done all of my training through Heartbeat…and I love it, and then having Jor-El as one of our speakers! I can’t speak highly enough of what Heartbeat does for Pregnancy Centers , and we got to experience it first hand. I appreciate that.
As Rush and her team continue to serve the needs of their community, through Curbside Care and all of the services the center offers, she looks back on the years in Coal City with admiration and gratitude – an endeavor that began with a question of a 13 yr- old girl.
“It’s absolutely amazing what God has done, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it,” she said.