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Live United: Pagosa Pregnancy Support Center

There is an organization that is truly a devoted advocate for the less fortunate in your community. It is the United Way of Southwest Colorado.

This year, 15 local agencies will benefit from the $80,000 Live United campaign goal and include: American Red Cross, Archuleta Education Center, Archuleta County Victim Assistance Program, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Colorado, Colorado Housing Inc., Girl Scouts of Colorado, Habitat for Humanity of Archuleta County, Pagosa Outreach Connection, Pagosa Pregnancy Support Center, San Juan Basin Area Agency of Aging, Southwest Smile Makers Dental Program, Seeds of Learning, Southwest Colorado Mental Health Center, Southwest Conservation Corps, and Volunteers of America.

There will be a series of spotlight articles on these organizations and what programs will be funded by the United Way. Today’s article, the first, will be on the Pagosa Pregnancy Support Center (PPSC), where the United Way is proud to support two very important programs: Earn While You Learn and Childbirth Education.

PPSC serves individuals and families?in our community by offering?pregnancy testing and support along with?ultrasound examinations and life skills training.?Support?is?also available for individuals who regret a prior abortion decision. All of these services are offered in a caring and safe environment where the mental and emotional stability of the client?is of the utmost importance.

?The number of people seeking support from PPSC climbed from 229 visits in 2008 to 665 visits in 2009! Those numbers certainly demonstrate a need for pregnancy support and education in our community. According to Executive Director Kathy Koy, “This (increase in numbers) doesn’t include the partners and children that we worked with. We know that the increase was due to the implementation of the Earn While You Learn (EWYL) program in March.”

The EWYL program is a nationally acclaimed program providing pregnancy and prenatal education to teen and young moms, as well as providing knowledge and skills that will help them meet the physical and emotional needs of their children. This program pairs a client with a mentor who meets with her every week. Long term relationships between clients and mentors are encouraged, as one-on-one mentoring is vital to the long range success of the client. The ultimate goal of the program is two fold: clients be able to actively engage in self-care and parenting in order to have a healthy pregnancy and delivery; clients learn to improve parenting skills in order to provide their children with a safe and caring environment in which they can thrive. When certain goals are met by clients, they are then able to earn credits which will enable them to make purchases in the PPSC store.

There are two parts to the program: the Prenatal/Infant Series and the Parenting Series. The Prenatal/Infant Series takes a client through each trimester of pregnancy and addresses topics like eating, smoking, SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), bonding, prenatal care, breastfeeding, first-aid, car seat safety, toilet training, and child care.? The Parenting Series provides education which focuses on a variety of topics which include: understanding a child’s personality; developing skills to nurture high self-esteem; learning positive discipline and reinforcement skills for desired behavior in the child, and reinforcing skills vital to successful parenting.

The Earn While You Learn program is a very flexible program which revolves around the client’s schedule at school or work unlike other programs which meet at set times. The personal attention and support from the mentors also help ensure the success of the program, as does the incentive to “purchase” much-needed items from the PPSC “boutique.”

According to Koy, “Each time a client attends a session, brings her partner or support person, completes her homework, keeps her WIC and immunization appointments at the Health Department, keeps her OB appointments, or donates baby or maternity items back to the Center, she can earn Boutique Bucks. These bucks enable her to then shop in our boutique for baby, personal care, and maternity items.”

The PPSC boutique has cribs (purchased with a grant from Community United Methodist Church), high chairs, strollers, and other large goods for baby. It also has baby clothes of all sizes, diapers, formula, maternity clothes and various other needs for mother and child.

Fathers are actively engaged at PPSC. A client is encouraged to bring the father of her baby with her to get him involved in the parenting process. He can participate in the EWYL program, join one of the men’s programs, and he can even work one-on-one with a male mentor.

The second program that United Way will help fund is Childbirth Education.? At this time, there are no childbirth education classes in Archuleta County.? Pregnant mothers and their partners must travel to Durango for classes, which is an added expense in terms of cost and time.?

Koy states, “I believe this to be a vital need for pregnant women and their families in our community and a tremendous opportunity for PPSC to meet that need.”?

The goal of this program is getting a client prepared for childbirth. If she is able to gain the necessary education concerning what she will face during her pregnancy and delivery, she can then know what is best for herself and her baby and actively participate in the labor process.

The other benefits of Childbirth Education classes include: enhancing a woman’s confidence in her innate ability to give birth; fostering positive feelings towards the birth, caregivers, and the infant; decreasing the use of drugs during labor—including costly epidurals; offering an opportunity for social support during pregnancy, which can lead to reduced length of labor and obstetrical complications; setting the stage for the successful initiation of breastfeeding, and adjusting to having a baby in the house!

The Pagosa Pregnancy Center is working very hard to keep up with the needs of our community related to pregnancy and parenting.? They are always in need of diapers, formula, wipes, gently used or new baby/toddler clothes, maternity clothes, nursery furniture, high chairs/booster seats, play equipment, toys, and, as always, monetary donations. They are also very happy to have volunteers!

The Center is located at 602 S. 8th St., and the hours are Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. If anyone is interested in more information on these two programs, or the Center in general, call 264-5963. For more information on the United Way, contact Teddy Adler Finney at 731-0484.