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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Valuing Life

This week, Chuck and I were privileged to attend the annual Crisis Pregnancy Center fundraiser dinner held at The Lodge in Bettendorf.

CPC, as it's known around the Quad City area, is 16 years old this year. Difficult to believe that it has been in existence that long! nor that I reported some of the early stories about CPC for local television. That's when it was just in Davenport. That's when I got to know C.J. Payne, CPC's executive director. How noteworthy that someone in a position of leadership stays with one organization so long!

CPC relies on three things to continue and grow: 1) God 2) the Word of God and 3) gifts from God, via the people of God. Private donations have helped CPC grow from serving 400 clients--women in crisis pregnancies--its first year.....to 3200 in 2005!

When I first reported on the work of CPC back in the early '90's, the idea was to counsel women in crisis pregnancies and to help them with material needs of various sorts (maternity clothes, baby clothes and furnishings.)

Today, at locations on BOTH sides of the river, CPC Pregnancy Resources offers pregnancy tests AND limited ultrasound; parenting classes; referrals for medical care, adoption agencies, housing and childbirth classes; and, for the post-abortive woman, special counseling.

In addition, CPC runs an active program on sexual abstinence, designed for and used in our schools and churches.

I have always doubted any program which teaches to "just say no". BUT, there are some WONDERFUL success stories with abstinence programs in which that wisdom is linked to developing a strong sense of self-worth in the individual.

Seated at dinner next to Renee VonBehren, who oversees daily operations at one of the CPC sites, I asked if adoption were enjoying increasing popularity among women here. "Not so much," she said. Apparently there are regional preferences that cause expectant mothers in some areas of the nation to embrace adoption, and others not. It has to do with ethnic background, cultural perceptions within that community and so on. On the other hand, many of the adoptions which do come out of crisis pregnancies here, take place within the extended family.

I was struck, as I always am at faith-based endeavors, by the sunny serenity of these women--C.J., Renee, etc.-- and the doctors who work with them on staff and as CPC volunteers. (There are, by the way, a HOST of CPC volunteers--and all it takes is four hours of a week of your time to be a volunteer receptionist, services coordinator, or clothing room attendant at either the Illinois or Iowa CPC.) Everyone involved knows the urgent and constant need to keep CPC up and running, and waits on the Lord for that need to be fulfilled. He has not disappointed yet--in fact, He keeps "sharing the wealth"!

If you are looking for somewhere to put a little money every month, you could certainly do worse than CPC. Community helping itself, the Center is also engaged in an even higher purpose: valuing each God-given life.

And on that subject, a word of get-well wishes to Congressman Lane Evans, sidelined by an illness. I know Mr. Evans has been very proud over the years of his attendance on the House Floor for votes; and I'm sure it pains him to have had to miss a month's worth of votes recently.

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