Non-profit organizations like Choices Mt. Shasta, are, in the truest sense of the term, non-profit, because many receive little to no governmental funding. (Choices receives none.) We’re at the mercy of the hearts, minds and generosity of the general public (people, groups, churches, businesses) to keep us afloat. It’s also very true that without people sharing their precious financial resources folks will go without compassion – which means, in many cases, they would suffer alone. And no, I’m not exaggerating – let me paint a typical picture of life for some of our mamas (daddies, and families):
You may go home to your cozy house, and sit down to a plentiful meal, but your neighbors struggle to find a diaper to replace the soiled one currently on their baby, even as they’ve just returned from their minimum wage job, and and scanned their nearly empty cupboards for quick calories to call dinner. And maybe mama, who wanted to breastfeed her baby, has given up, because it’s just too hard to juggle the pumping and the feeding, and work and child care with someone she’s not entirely comfortable with, but she doesn’t have enough money at her minimum wage job to find quality care. Imagine leaving your precious newborn with someone you don’t entirely trust? Imagine not having a sufficient supply of diapers, and your baby develops an ongoing painful rash, risking infection…you can write your own possible endings to this story.
But, as they say, I digress. (I do this often, by the way.)
Choices is kind of between a rock and a hard place. It’s essential that we put our mission before the public often, so that people understand what our mission looks like and how it impacts our communities.
But, we also have a strong commitment to confidentiality – essential, you get that, right? Without it, who would come? Specifically, in our context (setting), if we were to communicate via pics and words with identifying details, well, that would be invasive – way too vulnerable – when it’s not our call to do so. Our call is to protect, first and foremost.
So, we tell stories. Sure, changing names, and major and/or minor details, communicating only non-identifying information. To do anything else, would be to exploit our clients to get value or use from their suffering for our gain. Even though one might consider it a worthy action, it’s unkind, unsafe, and undignified – in other words: it’s not going to happen.
Without telling stories, how do we keep the mission going? Stories bring meaning to life. Historical fiction, is some of the best way to understand history – dry, boring textbooks with ample amounts of statistical data minus real people, with real names, real faces translate to real stories that help us grasp reality for those lives.
And our stories? They’re sometimes incredibly hard – even for us. But, not always. There’s also stories of celebrating – seriously, do you know how many adorable wee ones we get to hang out with? How many showers, weddings, births and birthday parties we get to go to? Oh, how I wish we could share pictures of each and every one of them!
Consider this: when you watch the news, if there weren’t pictures, and stories, your emotions wouldn’t be affected, and you might not be motivated to respond in some way, say, to be influenced, to have a change in heart, click to give, begin sharing from your cupboards, or going through you and your children’s closets for what is no longer needed.
Let me localize this: We’re in a small town – we welcome many folks each week – for a variety of reasons. Some might surprise you.
- Pregnancy test & consultation (self-testing model/we’re not medical; we’re here to be a soft-landing with resources and referrals as requested)
- Emotional support (someone to talk with about fears and anxieties about pregnancy, parenting, partner abuse, sexual concerns, or just life)
- Pregnancy support (to learn about what’s happening to the body, ways to support a healthy pregnancy, and fetal development)
- Parenting session (self-selected topics of need and/or interest; an honorable educational pursuit)
- Senior projects (we’ve mentored many high school seniors through the years)
- College research (COS and online students)
- Donors and other mamas (who bring in baby items, groceries or checks/cash, or items for our thrift store in Dunsmuir)
- Grandparents and other family members looking for emotional support
- Friends who come by to visit us, bring us lunch, or drop something by for someone else
- Volunteers who come to sit with and help clients/guests/friends
- Post-abortion compassion (sometimes women want/need to share their grief and sadness)
- Relax (no kidding – we’ve regularly have folks drop by just to take a sit, and enjoy a glass of water)
So, the next time you’re driving by, and see someone you know, consider that any of the above might be the reason for their visit. And/Or, if you’re reading a Facebook or blog post, don’t imagine you actually know whose story we’re sharing. We serve most areas of Siskiyou county, and a bit of Shasta county, outlying communities, many travelers, and lots of folks are pregnant and/or parenting, and need help in so many different ways. Coming alongside people to nurture life forward? Beautiful, for all of us.
So many of our guests we love and live life with at Choices would be happy to share their stories and pictures – and sometimes that happens, because they beg us to share with you. But, we invite you to consider those stories understanding the courage they’ve demonstrated in walking through our doors saying some version of, “I think I’m pregnant…”, or “My baby is due really soon, and I thought I could get it together, but…”, or “Do you guys have any diapers? My baby just pooped in his last one and I’m out!”…and every imaginable (and sometimes unimaginable) story you’ve ever heard.
Here’s the thing –
- We won’t ever share identifying details of those who come for help, because their well-being is our first priority – however, we deeply need people to help us help others.
- We don’t intend to be annoying with all our posts about the beauty and goodness that happens at 215 W. Alma St. in Mount Shasta, but we have limited options in asking for help.
One last thought, (really, I promise!) –
- If you’re curious, have questions, and you’d like to hear more, contact us, and let’s plan to chat soon!
- If you’ve heard/know enough, and would like to help us help others, head here for online giving.
Thanks so much for spending a bit of your valuable time with us! We know you have so many options!