First Source for Women Director Catherine Bethell
HANCEVILLE - When a woman finds herself in the sometimes frightening circumstance of an unplanned pregnancy, she may feel backed up in a corner with few options. First Source for Women (FSW), a faith-based pregnancy support service located in downtown Hanceville, seeks to provide women the help they need to give every baby a positive start in life.
FSW is an openly pro-life organization, and does not provide abortion referrals. But instead of focusing on what they feel clients should not do, they bring together multiple resources to show them the positive things they can do.
Founded as Her Choice of North Alabama in 2007, FSW has a threefold mission statement:
- To uphold the belief that every pregnant woman has the right to whatever help is needed to bring her child to term
- To aid her to mobilize her own resources and those of the community so that she may face the future and plan constructively for herself and her child
- To create and maintain an awareness in society for the needs of pregnant girls and women
FSW's Executive Director Catherine Bethell explained, "First Source for Women is a Christ-centered, nonprofit 501C3 organization. We are a pregnancy care resource center offering education, compassion, love and ongoing support to the women we serve. We believe women can overcome any obstacle placed before them when given the correct information and support.
"Although each woman that comes to us has her own unique story, there is a resounding common feeling…fear: the fear of what their parents will say, fear they cannot parent well, fear their plans and goals are gone forever, fear they cannot do this alone. This is our purpose, this is why we are here: to walk with them and show them the face of Christ, to show them that they are never alone."
FSW is one of only a few places of its kind in this part of the state, so it stays busy.
Bethell explained, "In 2016 we had 1,074 client appointments for pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, parenting class and shopping in our boutique. This averages out to 90 appointments per month."
Most of the clients are between 15 and 24 years of age.
Services offered by FSW include:
- Pregnancy testing
- Limited ultrasounds by trained, licensed nurses
- Confidential options education
- Mentoring by a Life Affirming Specialist who will provide education, guidance and support for the duration of a client’s pregnancy
- Positive choices sexual risk avoidance education
- Access to the FSW baby boutique for clothes, diapers, baby supplies and baby beds
- Mentoring for fathers and fathers-to-be by male counselors
- Developing employment skills
- Post-abortion counseling and recovery
- Referrals to other community agencies (food, clothing, shelter, financial assistance, etc.)
All of FSW's services are offered free of charge. An "earn while you learn" program allows clients to take classes in child birth, parenting skills, relationship skills, nutrition, health and other subjects- and receive for each class "mommy money" they can spend in the boutique for even more things.
A new service soon to be available is the FSW Mobile Unit, a customized vehicle that will travel to outlying communities to provide onsite pregnancy testing and ultrasounds.
Bethell and members of her staff are currently "on tour," visiting municipal officials around the county to make their services known. They are also preparing to make a presentation to physicians at Cullman Regional, and they hope to introduce themselves to as many local medical professionals as possible.
A number of officials and area groups have already stepped up to donate and help in various ways, including U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama, Cullman Savings Bank and the Cullman Lions Club, along with Cullman Mayor Woody Jacobs and the Cullman City Council.
Bethell says she is proud of the work that the FSW staff does, but she's always looking for more volunteer help.
She shared, "We have 35 dedicated volunteers that donate their time and talents to serve and save lives. Our volunteers represent a number of different Christian churches in Cullman, Hanceville and surrounding counties. If you would like to volunteer, we would welcome you into the First Source family."
For more information on First Source for Women, visit http://www.firstsourceforwomen.org or call 256-352-5683.
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