SALEM — A pro-life pregnancy support center established alongside Planned Parenthood here is marking 10 years and a move to a new building.
St. Germaine Pregnancy Support Center provides options to women who are pregnant and not sure what to do about it.
The ministry, named after a 16th-century French girl who suffered abuse at the hands of relatives, welcomes many girls for free pregnancy tests. If the test comes up negative, counselors urge a chaste way of life — not only to avoid pregnancy, but to stay healthy and happy along God’s proven path.
Kathi Van Liew, the director, also urges women to seek out their faith roots and begin practicing. A relationship with God and other people can help them thrive, she says.
Pregnancy tests come with a video about early development of the child. The video points out that the heart begins beating 18 days after conception.
Many girls who come to St. Germaine are not considering abortion, but are not prepared for parenthood. Some are as young as 15. Often, the boyfriend is too young to take responsibility. About 85 percent of clients at St. Germaine are Hispanic.
Almost a third of women who come are married. Some are happy to be pregnant and need assistance like clothes, diapers and formula.
Van Liew, who is chair of Queen of Peace's Peace and Justice Ministry, says the situation of the girls has not changed over the years, but her stance as a counselor has.
“My reaction has matured,” she says. “I am less judgmental. I can see myself in them.”
Even after the move, St. Germaine is just across a parking lot from Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood on occasion even refers women to St. Germaine for free pregnancy tests.
The move was necessary because the State Office of the Ombudsman for Long Term Care expanded into the former space. The new St. Germaine offices are smaller and farther from the main road, but was renovated for the ministry’s needs.
“I want us to remain relevant,” says Van Liew. She’s considering offering ultrasound scans, but wants to maintain the homey ministerial atmosphere as opposed to becoming a clinic.
Van Liew sees donors who are passionate about the pro-life cause as the backbone of her organization. “I pray the young generation coming along sees the importance of this,” she says.
The new address of St. Germaine is 3857 Wolverine St. NE, Ste. 2-C.