New Life Crisis Pregnancy Center offers help to community
By Pat Shea
Sun associate editor
Lucianne Henneberry needs a stroller. Actually, she needs eight strollers, five carseats, four cribs, two changing tables and a heap of baby clothes in just about every size from newborn to toddler.
As director of New Life Crisis Pregnancy Center in Mexico, N.Y., Henneberry strives to make sure whatever a client may need, whether it’s counseling, a pregnancy test or baby clothes and furniture for a new arrival, it’s ready and waiting at the Center.
“We live in a community that really needs our services,” stated Henneberry. “It’s important for new and expecting parents to learn not to wait until their situation is desperate to ask for help. At New Life Crisis Pregnancy Center, we work hard to establish a personal relationship with our clients. We encourage them to come in regularly and take advantage of our services. Eventually, they understand and realize we aren’t giving them a handout; we are just trying to make their situation, whatever it may be, a little more stable.”
The New Life Crisis Pregnancy Center began as the brainchild of several parishioners at St. Anne, Mother of Mary Parish in Mexico. Many members of the congregation were already volunteering at a pregnancy crisis center in Oswego but felt there was a need for one with a focus on Catholic principals in Mexico as well.
The Center was allocated space in the religious education building at St. Anne, Mother of Mary and in 1999, the New Life Crisis Pregnancy Center officially opened with a blessing from Bishop James Moynihan.
“We are situated in a perfect spot,” explained Henneberry. “We are one block from the Oswego County Department of Social Services and across from the Mexico Academy Central School.”
New Life Crisis Pregnancy Center offers free pregnancy testing, counseling on abortion, post-abortion counseling, education on abstinence, adoption assistance and referrals to agencies that an expectant mother might need, such as where to get a car seat or housing. The program even provides educational classes and the opportunity for families to earn “Mommy Money” to purchase clothing, furniture, diapers and food.
“Instead of just handing out donations we have a program called, Earn to Learn,” said Henneberry. “Clients earn a dollar in ‘Mommy Money’ by doing everything from making appointments (and keeping them) to spending an hour learning one of the 130 lessons the Center has on prenatal care, bottle feeding or simple life lessons such as writing a check. Everyone goes at their own pace and we get a chance to know each client better.”
Fathers can also participate in the earning program, providing another opportunity for clients to save up for big ticket items such as a baby crib, changing table or stroller.
“Items such as cribs, by law, can’t be resold as used, so all our cribs have to be new,” stated Henneberry. “Our clients pay a fraction of the cost of the crib through our earning program and they also learn skills and information they may not have had before.”
St. Anne, Mother of Mary Parish supports the center through fundraisers and weekly envelope donations. Local churches also host “baby showers” for the center, encouraging their congregations to donate baby clothes, diapers and furniture. Additionally, the center hosts an auction each year, offering a wide array of prizes and gifts for patrons to bid on. Last year, the auction raised approximately $10,000 for supplies, education and training materials for the center.
“The auction is not only a great fundraiser; people who go get great deals and have a lot of fun too,” said Henneberry. This year the auction will be held April 19 at the Mexico VFW hall.
To date, Henneberry estimates the center has helped at least 3,500 women in the community and continues to be a strong presence in the area. Henneberry is quick to point out that unlike other crisis pregnancy centers, New Life works hard to create a one-on-one environment.
“We use a love approach when working with clients, which is a principal of Heartbeat International, a pro-life organization that provides training for our volunteers,” said Henneberry. “We listen and provide counsel, which comes from listening well. We do have Catholic principles and encourage our clients to pray and seek God’s help, but we never judge and we always take our cue from the mother. If and when she is ready to talk, we are here waiting to express God’s unending love for her. ”
For more information on the New Life Crisis Pregnancy Center Annual Auction or the Center itself, contact (315) 963-7182.