Sav-A-Life volunteers backbone of agency

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Many people get into volunteer work hoping they will change someone's life for the better, even if only in a small way. Those who volunteer at Sav-A-Life change many lives, in major ways.

"Sav-A-Life is a pregnancy crisis center," said Kim Jackson, one of many volunteers with the non-profit organization. "We offer free pregnancy tests and counseling for anybody."

The center offers much more than the knowledge that a woman is pregnant or not - they offer her information, assistance and support.

"We have a life skills class where the mothers-to-be bring in some homework once a month and they get to visit the 'baby closet'."

The baby closet is filled with maternity clothes, diapers, formula, and furniture - in short, just about anything a baby needs. Once the mother goes to the hospital to give birth, her choices are gathered into a bag and taken to her.

Babies are what Sav-A-Life is all about. Although her agency does offer information about the choices that are out there for pregnant women, Jackson notes that they do not endorse abortion at all. They do, however, offer post-abortion counseling. The center also offers abuse counseling and, through Life Line, an adoption service. All matters are kept confidential.

"We just placed our first baby this year," said Jackson.

Another important feature of Sav-A-Life, one in which volunteers play a major role, is the abstinence program.

"I'm the only paid employee in the abstinence program," said Penny Cassady, director. "And I'm only part-time. We see all of the schools in the county and some out of the county - so volunteers mean a lot."

According to Cassady, the volunteer in the abstinence programs go into the schools to present the program, called "You are Unique" and often share with the students their own choices - whether they waited for marriage or not - and the consequences of those choices.

"It helps a lot, especially from the men," said Cassady, who said four male volunteers presented the program this year. "The students need to hear it from men. It's very important they be involved."

Sav-A-Life will celebrate its 11th anniversary on Mother's Day, according to founding board member Jan White.

"I remember the nights and weeks and weeks of getting the groundwork laid," she said.

She also recognizes the role of the volunteers.

"The volunteers are the backbone of the ministry," she said. "They are the arms and legs - they get things done."

Jackson, who lives in Wing, takes on many roles as a Sav-A-Life volunteer, as do all the volunteers. Receptionist, office worker, speaker, mailing out the newsletter, public relations, counselor, teacher - their jobs are legion. Sometimes they serve as a shoulder to cry on, sometimes they are the photographer when a proud new mother brings her baby in for the first time to visit. They help with the annual banquet, and with the candlelight vigil held each year on he anniversary of Roe vs. Wade.

What brings these volunteers to Sav-A-Life is a desire to help save and change lives.

"I feel called to do it. It was something that the Lord laid on my heart." said Jackson, who first heard of Sav-A-Life in her hometown of Birmingham where the organization originated. "I feel led to do it, I feel it is important to give back. It's a very worthwhile ministry."

Those interested in volunteering at Sav-A-Life are required to fill out an application and provide references, just as they would at a paying job.

"We want people with integrity connected to our programs," said Cassady.

Once accepted, there is a week-long training program. There are other ways to assist the center, of course, for those whose time is limited.

"We can also use financial support," said Cassady "And your prayers."

She suggested donations of baby items and clothes as well.

"Anything a baby needs, we can distribute it," Cassady said.

"I hope that I have helped and I hope we have talked about their choices and helped them make a wise decision," said Jackson about those who have come to the center. "I hope they've felt loved and cared for here."

For more information about Sav-A-Life, call 222-0644.