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Project Life

The following is an excerpt from a 2009 article in the Catholic Worker section of this website, which can be viewed in its entirety here.  
(previously the St. Croix Valley LifeCare Center)
713 County Road 5
Stillwater, MN 55082
 

  

After saying good-bye to Dr. Loome I headed to the St. Croix Valley LifeCare Center (SCVLCC) [now Project Life] to learn more. 

I was greeted by Office Manager, Deb Beemer, who explained that the center is an affiliate of Total LifeCare Centers, based in Minnesota.  It is not a Catholic Worker entity although a few of its staff people are involved in the CW community.  While SCVLCC operated for several years on generous donations from a variety of churches and individuals alone, it now receives some funding from a State of Minnesota Positive Alternatives Act grant to help in its work. 

SCVLCC ‘s mission is to serve the St. Croix Valley, but people do come from well into Wisconsin.  There is no charge for any of their services, which include STD testing, ultrasounds and general problem solving.  The loving support is free too. 
 
“The St. Croix Valley LifeCare Center exists so that no woman in the St. Croix Valley area ever feels that abortion is her only choice,” Beemer tells me.  “We advise them that you don’t have to have an abortion.  There are often people who feel that they have to for whatever reason.  We are here to cut down all those things that they say are problems.  If its finances, we have financial help. We have places to live.  We have all that stuff.  And our biggest goal is to make them feel loved.  They need to have that love and trust in order for us to be an effective face of God.”
 
Karen Loome (an R.N.) works at the center and is in charge of anything medical.  Many women take advantage of the free STD testing.  Instead of waiting until there is an unwanted pregnancy, they are asked how they feel about abortion early.  “That is the time to make a decision, not when you are in the middle of a crisis,” Beemer says. “Most people who come in only for the STD test  think abortion is horrifying . . . BUT . . .”
 
They offer pregnancy testing and ultrasound and, as you would expect, there are lots of baby fetus models floating around the place.
 

Interestingly, unlike many Protestant-run crisis pregnancy centers, Beemer tells me, “We never, ever, ever promote birth control.”  Other denominations donate generously to the LifeCare Center but it is Catholic to the core.  “Birth control and abortion go very hand-in-hand unfortunately, because it provides an attitude of disconnecting the act of sex with children.” 
 
The mentoring service is extensive.  There is help, as needed, with housing, transportation, utilities, budgeting, substance abuse, education and employment . .  you name it.  I skeptically asked how good they were at successfully meeting those needs.  Her response? 
 
"Really, really, really good.” 

After a baby is born, the mother is encouraged to stay in touch with the center.  Free baby clothes and items are offered until his or her second birthday. Unmet needs at that time are referred on to other agencies in the community.

In closing, Beemer shared a story of some parents who brought their pregnant 16 year old, in her late first trimester, to SCVLCC thinking it was an abortion clinic.  “They were 100% convinced that she HAD to have an abortion.”  The girl was just going along with their wishes.   
 

Instead of receiving an abortion, the girl got a free ultrasound and the parents spent some time talking to Beemer.  Thirty minutes later, hearts had been changed.  The mom excitedly exclaimed, “I’m a GRANDMOTHER!” 

 
Beemer tells me that it hasn’t been easy for them, but the baby was born into a family that has greeted it with much happiness and love.



Update, August 2012:  Many changes have happened since the above article was written.  The pregnancy center continues to flourish and has now "gone medical"  meaning they are also able to provide prenatal care in the center at no charge to clients.  

They are no longer associated with Total LifeCare Centers, having "gone solo" in 2011.  This also led to the name change.  For those looking for a center associated with that organization, there is one in Woodbury, MN.