by Noah Tang
This semester, I began to volunteer at the Pregnancy Resource Clinic (PRC) in Springfield, Ohio. It is a short drive of approximately fifteen minutes north on State Route 72. My internship involves sundry responsibilities, but mainly ministers to the men who accompany their partners for pregnancy tests.
The PRC is piloting a new male mentorship program as part of a wider fatherhood initiative being undertaken by its parent organization CareNet, which includes over a thousand pregnancy resource centers in America. As a member of CareNet, the PRC has hired a fatherhood coordinator and recruited several male volunteers to reach men involved in an unplanned pregnancy. These volunteers seek to build relationships with male clients, offer resources on marriage, parenting and jobs, and share the gospel when appropriate.
My immediate supervisor is the fatherhood coordinator, David Ervin. Prior to joining PRC, Ervin worked for fifty years in the criminal justice system—first as a probation officer and parole officer, then as program director of a community-based correctional facility in Marysville, Ohio, where he worked with clients who struggled with addiction and mental health.
After retiring, Ervin joined the PRC as its first fatherhood coordinator, or as he calls it, the fatherhood champion.
“My role is to develop the fatherhood program and assist Wendy in recruiting and training male volunteers,” Ervin said.
Ervin is passionate about helping fathers to fulfill their roles in the family and in society.
“The importance of a fatherhood program is vital because the absence of fathers in homes has contributed significantly to various societal issues such as family breakdown, drug abuse, alcoholism, domestic violence, and overall crime rate in our country,” Ervin said. “It’s also been determined that the frequency of abortions is tied to the influence of the father.”
Wendy Parrish serves as the volunteer coordinator at the Pregnancy Resource Clinic.
“We want the volunteers to be Christ-centered in their hearts,” she said. “The work is not just about results; PRC desires workers who are interested in the work.”
Parrish reports on the work being done and recruits new volunteers when she speaks in nearby churches. She offers tours of the facility to potential volunteers and begins to train them once they decide to join. Her visit to my church last October and the tour she gave me in November led to my internship there.
Parrish has played a key part in establishing the PRC’s fatherhood program. The program, as well as the nationwide initiative, are relatively new and need time to grow and become fully accepted within the pro-life community.
“It takes opening hearts to the concept of men working in pregnancy centers,” said Parrish. “It’s new and being prayed upon. It’s going to grow over time.”
Parrish has seen both difficulties and blessings in her time at PRC. Misinformation and disinformation about pro-life centers abound on the Internet and within the minds of some. At the same time, Parrish said “God has moved hearts to volunteer, donate, or contribute materials through our presence at churches, banquets, etc.”
Nicole Patch is the executive director of the Pregnancy Resource Clinic.
“I make sure staff and volunteers have everything they need,” Patch said. “I also attend fundraisers, visit churches, oversee building maintenance, and make sure everything is running as it should.”
Patch’s experiences motivated her to support the fatherhood initiatives that CareNet sponsored.
“Before I was in this position, I was doing ultrasounds, and I saw firsthand the effect that a supportive father has upon the mom and baby, and the flip side of how an uninvolved father affects them, increasing the chances of an abortion,” said Patch.
Hope Aviles is a junior Cedarville student who volunteers at the PRC, serving the female clients. She greatly enjoys the work environment and finds the work to be very edifying.
“My experience working at the Springfield PRC has been incredibly sweet,” Aviles said. “Even just being in training for the role of Care Coordinator, the ladies have made me feel a part of the family already.”
The work of this ministry has helped Aviles to grow both as an individual and as a Christian. She has seen God’s love powerfully expressed through the actions of the employees and volunteers there.
“The joyful environment of service is one that emulates Christ’s well, and I have learned an immense amount about how to effectively aid and provide resources to pregnant women in such a way that they feel cared for,” Aviles said.
Although many have answered the call to join this cause, more are still needed. Aviles encourages her fellow students to take part in pro-life ministry if they are able. It can make an eternal difference.
Noah Tang is a graduate student majoring in Biblical Leadership, and a writer for Cedars. He likes to spend time with friends, ride his bike, and watch movies.