The following article is from a write-up from an associated entity of the Sealy Pregnancy Resource Center (“SPRC”). The SPRC is located on the LifeBridge campus and run by LB’s amazing, Pat Penner.
The entity has requested we do not attribute or credit them in this reproduction.
We are very proud of the center and all it does as well as all the LB folks who routinely volunteer there!
WAY TO GO!
Drive an hour west of Houston and you’ll come upon Sealy Pregnancy Resource Center (SPRC), situated amongst sprawling green fields, a speckling of quaint houses and grazing cows. The center opened in the rural community (population 6,488) in 2016, and is housed in the tail-end of a barndo-building connected to a church.
“We’re a little bit country,” says Executive Director Patricia Penner. “The clients love it because it’s laid-back and comfortable and it fits us. They sometimes sit on our large patio and chat or just relax and drink a bottle of water.”
But Penner – who works with eight volunteers and one paid staff member – says serving a rural community presents its own challenges like unreliable transportation and a demographic grappling with poverty.
“The average client income is less than $14,000 a year and access to local medical care is limited though getting better slowly,” she says. “It’s easier for women to go to Houston for an abortion and no one will ever know.”
Statistics are unavailable due to no local hospital, she notes. The center offers home visits and delivers formula and other needed supplies. For those that prefer to come to the center, SPRC will pay for their transportation.
In response to a rise in high school pregnancies in their surrounding communities, they stay in touch with local school counselors to ensure the girls are receiving proper medical care early in their pregnancy as well as prenatal education. The center averages 660 client visits a year, with an average of 86 unique clients (a 51% increase as compared to 1Q 2018).
As for best practice tips?
“Be flexible,” she says. “No two clients are the same. Many times, we have to change how we are doing things in order to best work with them. Never become so rigid that you can’t sit down with your staff and talk about what recommendations they have or changes we need to make to better serve our clients based on what we see.”
Penner advises other leaders to network, above all – both with other centers and agencies that can provide assistance to clients.
“We are not in this alone,” she says, who herself consulted with fellow Provider Houston Pregnancy Center for guidance to get up and running. Periodically her staff gets together for lunch and coordinates with another center for a tour.
“We then re-group and discuss what we have seen and talked about and what changes we can make to improve.”
So the next time you’re near Sealy, stop in. Just be alert to the curious cows who reside behind a fence that butts up against their lot, says Penner.
“If you park too close to the fence, they’ll look to you to feed them. Sometimes, one will escape down the road.”Sealy Pregnancy Resource Center, Associated Entity