Birthright needs volunteers, offers free tour, training

“I am sitting there, waiting for the phone to ring. No one has called in the past hour. I start thinking about all the productive things I could be doing at home. Then, there is a knock at the door. It’s a young girl in her twenties. She looks weary and sad. I welcome her and invite her to sit with me for a moment.
She looks into my eyes, sees the smile on my face, and bursts into tears. She has kept this a secret and feels all alone. She is tormented by her circumstances and fear of what to do next. She thought no one would understand or love her again. But, then she found her way to me. Somehow she knew, just by being in my presence, that I would help her. I am here for her. She will make it through this after all. She is not alone!” This is the picture of a day at Birthright painted by Monica Walton, a Birthright volunteer for 21 years.
The organization needs new volunteers so it is hosting a training session in May.
Birthright believes “It is the right of every pregnant woman to give birth, and the right of every child to be born.” That has been the Birthright way since it was founded in 1968 by Louise Summerhill in Canada. Birthright of Jackson began in 1983. Every Birthright chapter adheres to the same charter which has remain unchanged since its inception.
“It’s a very narrow focus of helping a woman take care of herself so she can take care of her baby,” said Walton, who also serves as director of Birthright of Jackson. “We simply welcome each client as a friend. We run a free pregnancy test and sit with her, listening to her personal story. Whatever problem she feels is a stumbling block in the pregnancy, we help her make a plan to improve her circumstances. Then she feels better able to carry the child to term,” she added. Birthright offers love, hope, friendship, information, practical help and referrals for as long as a woman needs their services.
Last year, Birthright of Jackson had 350 counseling sessions with clients. Twenty-seven clients were considering abortion. Of the 16 pregnancy tests administered, 12 clients reported back with information on the birth of their child. The remaining four either had a miscarriage or abortion, or Birthright lost contact with the client.
“We don’t always get to hear the outcome of our interaction with these women,” said Walton. “Sometimes, their phone service is disconnected or they simply stop taking our calls. But, it is so wonderful when we do get to meet the babies and see the change of heart these mothers have experienced!”
“I had volunteered at the hospital and at hospice ministries, but I didn’t find either fulfilling,” said Lou Runnels, Birthright volunteer from Flowood St. Paul Parish. “Volunteering at Birthright filled a void in me, even though I didn’t know what was missing. Meeting clients makes me feel good. We make a connection and I know I have made a difference in their lives.”
Runnels, who has been a Birthright volunteer for two years, shared that she had an abortion at the age of 18. “I am able to give these girls information that wasn’t given to me 42 years ago when I had my abortion,” she said. “If I would have found a place like Birthright, I might have made a different decision,” she said.
“Helping with Birthright gives me peace of mind,” said Caroline Gaudet, who has been a Birthright volunteer, off and on for 20 years. “I know I am doing something for those who are very vulnerable, and I like Birthright because it’s non-judgmental and offers a sense of safety. That’s very important to me.” Gaudet is a member of Jackson St. Richard Parish.
Dennis Riecke has volunteered for Birthright as a board member for 20 years. He said Birthright is always in need of a variety of volunteers with different skill sets. “I wanted to do something in the pro-life movement, but I didn’t want to protest, lobby or be confrontational,” said Riecke, a member of Madison St. Francis Parish. “I’m not a counselor. I have taken minutes at board meetings and helped with fundraisers and other activities as needed.”
Volunteer training day will be Saturday, May 7, starting at 9 a.m. with coffee and a tour of the center at 644 Lakeland East Drive, Suite C in Flowood. We will discuss the services we offer, how easy and rewarding it is to volunteer, and conclude with a question/answer session and a light lunch. Everyone is encouraged to attend with no obligation. This is simply a chance to learn more, understand the needs of Birthright and their clients, and gauge your level of interest. Bring a friend!
Visit the Birthright website, or contact Monica Walton by email: or by calling 601-371-7711.