A new Christian-based ministry is looking to provide counseling and basic clinic services to Minot-area residents facing tough decisions over unplanned pregnancies.
Dakota Hope Clinic, a nonprofit entity, plans to open a regional clinic in Minot in early 2013 that will offer health services, support and education related to sexual health, pregnancy and parenting.
Nadia Smetana, a member of the Dakota Hope Clinic board, said young mothers who have faced unplanned pregnancies have mentioned that the community lacks a central place for information on options.
"We hope to be that place where they can go," Smetana said. "We hope that people we counsel will make a life-affirming choice."
Dakota Hope Clinic's first annual fundraising banquet will be Thursday in the Grand International ballroom. Doors open at 6 p.m. and dinner will be served at 6:45 p.m. There is no admission cost, but guests will be asked to pledge whatever financial support they can give.
The reservation deadline has been extended to Monday. RSVP by calling 852-6755 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guest speaker is Pam Stenzel, who was born to a rape victim and grew up in an adoptive home. She worked with New Life Family Center in Minneapolis before getting involved in public speaking on sexual abstinence. She founded Enlighten Communications, an organization committed to bettering the lives of children and families around the world.
Organizers of Dakota Hope Clinic also sponsored the "October Baby" film to raise money and are pursuing grants and other gifts.
The project has received support from area businesses, churches, Pregnancy Help Center in Park River and North Dakota Family Alliance.
FirstChoice Clinic in Fargo, with satellite clinics in Devils Lake and Bismarck, has provided assistance as well, Smetana said. Originally, Dakota Hope Clinic founders sought to establish a satellite of FirstChoice, but the Fargo organization was unable to take on another location.
Dakota Hope Clinic is connected with Heartbeat International, an association of pregnancy help centers. The association provides a number of resources, including training local staff and answering the 24-hour hotline during hours when local volunteers are unable.
The site and hours of the local clinic haven't been finalized, but it will serve clients both by appointment and walk-in. Paid staff will include an executive director, nurse manager and possibly others.
Volunteers also are sought to assist in a number of areas, from receptionists to carpentry. Once the clinic has established a site, Dakota Hope will be in need of a licensed electrician and plumber and other construction helpers to complete any remodeling.
Free services at Dakota Hope Clinic will include:
- 24-telephone hotline for pregnancy or sexual health issues.
- Pregnancy testing and limited ultrasound exams.
- Counseling and education regarding pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and parenting options with referral to medical providers and community agencies.
- Prenatal, parenting and sexual integrity classes that enable clients to earn diapers, clothing and other material necessities.
- Community education for sexual health.
- Resources and training for parents and educators.
- Resources, counseling and referral for loss from pregnancy or abortion and for prenatal diagnosis of an infant condition.
Smetana said Dakota Hope is working closely with community agencies to provide referrals, whether it is for mental health counseling, adoption, infections or other concerns.
"We are committed to giving medically accurate information," Smetana said. "It's our hope that by giving this information that the couple will make a life-affirming choice. We would not refer if the couple wants an abortion but would talk about the abortion choice so they are fully informed."
Statistics from the State Health Department show 110 women and girls underwent abortions in 2011 from Minot's seven-county region. Most were ages 18 to 24.
"They are not getting all the information so that they can really make a right choice," said the Rev. Fred Harvey of Little Flower Catholic Church, a Dakota Hope board member. "We are just hoping we are providing an option that people will hear, and come to experience that life-affirming choice."
Board member April Braun said it is exciting to see Dakota Hope Clinic because she realized Minot's need when she worked as nurse manager at the Bismarck pregnancy help clinic. She helped found the Bismarck clinic a few years ago. The clinic received numerous calls from people in the Minot area and be helpless to serve them unless they made that drive of 100 miles or more, she said.
The impetus for Dakota Hope Clinic began when North Dakota Family Alliance and FirstChoice began connecting people in Minot who separately inquired of them regarding starting a clinic.
Dakota Hope Clinic's vision statement is to promote a "community where people flourish because their choices regarding sexual health, fertility, pregnancy and marriage are based on life-affirming principles, which are grounded in Holy Scripture, human reason and the nature of the human person. Anyone suffering due to violation of these principles can find healing and reconciliation."
"We are not a political organization," Smetana said. "We are here to help and to teach and to provide services to anybody without regard to race, creed or religion, but we are a Christian organization and we are nondenominational."
In addition to Smetana, Braun and Harvey, board members are Tim Knutson, Susan Weston, Dione Bohl and Elizabeth Sloan. The organization has a website at (www.dakotahope.org)