Local nonprofit Women’s Resource Center of the Rockies offers free services for those dealing with unplanned pregnancy
Dance for Life
Date: Thursday, May 7
Time: 6-9 p.m.
Location: Silverthorne Pavilion, 400 Blue River Parkway, Silverthorne
For more information, contact Ann Hunsinger at (970) 262-9274
Women’s Resource Center of the Rockies
350 Lake Dillon Drive, Dillon
Ann Hunsinger is always ready to take a phone call. If she’s not in her office to pick up, the call forwards to her cellphone. That way, when someone calls the Women’s Resource Center of the Rockies, there’s almost always a live human voice on the other end of the line.
Hunsinger has been the executive director of the nonprofit organization since November 2013. She was also part of the group of original founders back in 2007 — a support group of members from Dillon Community Church who had either had an abortion in the past or wished to support women who had. Through discussion, the group decided there was a need for resources and a local support system for women who found themselves in an unexpected pregnancy situation. In January 2008, the Women’s Resource Center of the Rockies opened with its official 501c3 nonprofit status.
The mission of the organization, Hunsinger said, is “to help people in these situations, to give them information and resources to help them make a choice about their future and the future of their child.”
Contact with the center usually starts with a phone call. A woman who is experiencing an unplanned or unexpected pregnancy calls and Hunsinger speaks with her, gathering information and explaining what services the center offers. Hunsinger’s next step is usually to ask the woman to come in to the center, so they can speak face to face.
The Women’s Resource Center of the Rockies is in Dillon, in the Summit Resort Group building near the post office. A media room features one wall of floor-to-ceiling shelves filled with educational materials, including books and DVDs on parenting, child development and a variety of similar topics.
Just down the short hallway is a smaller room containing two soft chairs and a loveseat. The walls are painted warm red and yellow. Hunsinger describes the room as “cozy,” and she meets with people there one on one or in small groups to discuss their situations. Hunsinger and the six other peer counselors at the center are all trained.
“Women will call and they are just in tears, or they’re not until they get into the room and we really start talking about things, and you know, the tears will come, because it’s just a very emotional thing,” Hunsinger said. “They feel very frightened, very alone, especially if the father of the baby is not at all supportive.”
The resource center’s services aren’t only for women, however. Men are also welcome and encouraged to come in and speak with a counselor; a male counselor is available.
One issue that many of the people who come to the resource center are dealing with is that of being away from traditional family support.
“Many of the clients I see are women who are here working at the resorts, and it’s a very transient community,” Hunsinger said, “so here they’re away from home and their family support system and they find themselves in an unintended pregnancy, so they’re just coming to get some support and advice, or just somebody to listen to them, and say hey, ‘I understand, you are not alone. So many women have been in your same position and they survived. Your life is not over.’”
During the counseling sessions, clients and counselors discuss the three options facing an unexpected pregnancy — keeping the baby, putting it up for adoption and abortion.
“We are faith-based, but we are not affiliated with any one religion or church,” Hunsinger said. “Our desire is for these women to choose life for their child and life for themselves; however, only they can make that choice. And no matter what choice they make, we are still here to support them. It’s a hard choice, and every choice they make has consequences. Parenting, as many people know, it’s a lifetime decision and it’s very difficult. Adoption is a hard choice and has its consequence and regrets and doubts, and abortion also has consequences.”
While the majority of the center’s money comes from individual donations, it also draws funds from local churches and the National Christian Foundation, as well as grants from the towns of Frisco and Breckenridge.
Anyone can use the center’s services, however, regardless of religion.
“I think the great thing about this center is it’s ecumenical,” said Mary Beth Gilligan, who is a member of the center’s small working board. Before being a board member, she volunteered, feeling drawn to the center’s mission of helping women and promoting life.
“We like women to really know they have time to think it through and really look at what the options are that are out there,” she said. Overall, “we believe life is the best option.”
In the end, the final choice is up to the client herself.
“We’re there for people no matter what,” Gilligan said.
The resource center offers a pregnancy test to each woman coming in. Women then have the option of receiving a free ultrasound, to see how far along they are and make sure everything is healthy and normal.
Often, Hunsinger or one of the counselors will go along with the woman to the ultrasound appointment, to lend support. Sometimes, the father or other family members are there, and sometimes, they’re not.
Each ultrasound results in a three-dimensional image of the fetus, as well as a chance to hear the heartbeat, a powerful moment that Hunsinger says helps women connect with their unborn child.
“That’s one of the best services we do for the women,” Gilligan said, “to see the life inside of them and make the decision of what they want to do.”
Currently, these ultrasounds are performed at the Swan Mountain Women’s Center in Frisco. The resource center doesn’t have the funds or ability to perform ultrasounds yet, but that’s a long-term goal Hunsinger is working toward. Sometimes women don’t make it to the Swan Mountain center, and Hunsinger hopes that having those capabilities at the resource center’s location would eliminate that potentially discouraging extra step.
The center provides grief counseling, as well as an area downstairs called the Mother’s Closet — two small rooms filled with all the types of items young parents might need, from maternity clothes to onesies, diapers and other baby equipment. The items are all donated and of no cost to the clients.
Hunsinger estimates that she works with five to six women per month. Last year, the resource center served just more than 30 women, most between 19 and 25 years old. All of the resource center’s services are free of charge to everyone, and all counseling sessions and other information are strictly confidential.
This will be the second year for the resource center’s spring fundraiser. It takes place on Thursday, May 7, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Silverthorne Pavilion. Called Dance for Life, the event will include food, live music and line-dancing lessons from Jennifer Voxakis, a local dance instructor. A silent auction will feature donated items from local businesses, such as restaurant gift cards, baskets of coffee and chocolate and more.
There is no cost to attend the event, though donations are accepted. Anyone can come and participate in the line dancing, or simply enjoy the music and the food. Last year, Hunsinger said the event raised around $10,000. She hopes to do at least the same this year, if not more. She has plans to expand the resource center’s services, not only in the ultrasound department, but potentially with programs aimed at middle and high school students and outreach to the Spanish-speaking population.
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