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Hall updates Kiwanis about Sav-A-Life

VALLEY — Like most organizations, Sav-A-Life had a difficult year in 2020. Executive Director Machelle Hall talked about that and Sav-A-Life’s efforts to get back to normal at Wednesday’s meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Valley.

“Businesses, schools, churches and ministries faced hard decisions in 2020,” she said. “Under the guidance of our medical director (Dr. Kim Owens) and with the full support of our board of directors, the center was closed for a time.”

Most of Sav-A-Life’s volunteers are in the age group most impacted by COVID-19.

“COVID-19 had lots of unknowns, and we didn’t want to put any of our pregnant patients at risk,” Hall said. “We are now open in our regular pre-pandemic hours, and most of our volunteers have returned to serve. I think the pandemic changed us in some way, and we at Sav-A-Life are currently in a season of rebuilding and evaluating.”

Sav-A-Life is located at 711 North 4th Avenue in Lanett, across from the Holy Family Catholic Church. It’s open from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. ET and on Mondays through Thursdays and 9 untill noon on Fridays. It’s best to make an appointment by calling (334) 642-8832, (800) 418-0122 or (800) 712-HELP. Walk-ins are accepted when there are no appointments.

Though a tough year, 2020 marked 35 years for Sav-A-Life in the Valley.

“We weren’t able to celebrate the way we had hoped to,” Hall said, “but today I have the honor of sharing with you about this life-affirming ministry that has stood the test of time in our community.”

Sav-A-Life opened in September 1985. A total of 28 clients were seen in the final four months of that year. A total of 22,800 clients made visits between 1985 and 2020.

Its first location was in Executive Park in Plant City near Donny Holley State Farm Insurance. It later relocated to downtown Lanett. Sav-A-Life has been in its present location since 1999.

“Sav-A-Life was created to help girls who were facing a possible crisis pregnancy,” Hall said. “Our mission statement is to promote life and to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We accomplish this by praying, loving those who serve, meeting needs and educating and training. We believe that life was created by God, based on Jeremiah 1:5: “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.”

Sav-A-Life has two employees, Hall and Nurse Manager Linda Humphrey.

“Linda works two days per week,” Hall said. “She is excellent in everything she does. We currently have nine volunteers, including two RNs who serve in many roles. We are governed by a volunteer board of directors made up of six local people. Dr. [Kimberly] Owens oversees medical services such as pregnancy testing and ultrasound.”

Sav-A-Life is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

“We are supported by donations given by individuals, churches, organizations, businesses and the Valley United Fund,” Hall said.

Services offered include free pregnancy testing, confidential options counseling, limited ultrasounds and Earn While You Learn.

“We are a medical pregnancy clinic and operate under the medical license of Dr. Kimberly Owens, M.D.,” Hall said. “Dr. Owens is currently on the staff at the Auburn University Medical Clinic. We offer pregnancy testing performed by our nurse manager and volunteer nurses. All our nurses hold Alabama RN licenses. We receive referrals from the local Health Department and doctor’s offices. All our services are offered free of charge.”

“With our options counseling, our intent is to offer honest, truthful facts regarding three pregnancy options – parenting, adoption and abortion,” Hall said. “Our compassionate staff provides non-judgmental emotional support while offering medically accurate information on all of her options in order to empower her to make an informed decision. We do not recommend or refer clients for abortions. We offer practical help infused with unconditional love. Abstinence encouragement is offered to all unmarried clients to help avoid the risks of unplanned pregnancies, STDs, sexual trauma and emotional harm.”

Earn While You Learn (EWYL) is relationship-based, one-on-one mentoring with ongoing education about pregnancy. Clients come each week to a session and learn ways to have a healthy pregnancy, receive good information on how to take care of a baby after they comes home, how the baby is developing at different trimesters and common-sense tips on such tasks as the proper installation of a car seat. The clients complete homework to earn Baby Bucks, which they can spend in Sav-A-Life’s Caring Closet to get items such as cribs, car seats, pack and plays, clothing, diapers, etc. Additional Baby Bucks can be earned by attending volunteer Bible study.

Counseling is offered on the adoption option.

“We are not an adoption facility,” Hall said. “We do offer referrals to adoption agencies, and we can arrange meetings with birth mother counselors if our patients are interested in getting more information. We explain the benefits of adoption when a pregnant client feels she cannot take care of her baby.”

Sav-A-Life also offers post-abortion counseling.

“Immediately after an abortion a woman may feel relieved,” Hall said, “but it’s not the end of the story for most women. At some future point, the woman may have to deal with emotional issues such as depression, denial, grief, anxiety and guilt over having had an abortion. A recent mental health study showed that post-abortive women have an increased risk of anxiety, depression, substance abuse and suicidal thoughts. Sav-A-Life embraces women who need help and healing.”

“We are praying and asking God to open new doors of opportunity for us to serve women and men in the community,” Hall said. “We want to serve them both during the pregnancy and after the baby is born. We are excited about what the future may bring Sav-A-Life as God expands our territory.”

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