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10/23/2012 9:03:00 AM
Center's pro-life message goes beyond birth
Madonna Center photo
Mother and child enjoy a moment at Madonna's Center.
Madonna Center photo
Mother and child enjoy a moment at Madonna's Center.
Jon DeBellis
Of the Catholic Sentinel

Valerie Aschbacher of Madonna's Center in Clackamas County wants you to know one thing about her charitable organization that helps out teen parents. They are a one of a kind place.

When the organization began in 2005, says Aschbacher, the typical model for helping teen parents was a maternity home. Madonna's Center decided the home model was not cost effective for them, and wouldn't allow them to serve as many parents.

Madonna's Center was developed to be an outreach program. Teen mothers and fathers who qualify for assistance from the center have volunteers come to them with services and or supplies that they need. A focus is made on helping teen parents with children 1- to 3- year-olds (a big need this year has been toddler-sized winter clothing).

But it's not just coats that teen parents need, says Aschbacher. The center also helps teen parents identify barriers for completing their education, helps them stabilize their living situation; and works with them to have skills that make them employable in the future.

"What we try to do here is to get to the root of what their obstacles are, and what are those things they don't have access to do," said Aschbacher.

And there are very few things that a teen parent has access to, says Aschbacher. They're not 18 and of age for most social services, and a great many of them come from non-supportive family backgrounds.

"We believe in the fundamental right to life," said Aschbacher, who described her organization as a lay apostolate. "It's beyond what we say — we need to make sure these children have the support, skills and love they need to become self-sufficient."

For more about Madonna's Center, log on to madonnascenter.org.

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