“I believe they are the real future of the pro-life movement,” Christendom College Alumna Mary Brand says of local crisis pregnancy centers. “It’s where the rubber hits the road.”
A graduate of the class of 1998, Brand has been volunteering in pro-life work since she was in high school, from praying at abortion facilities to volunteering at crisis pregnancy centers. Now, she is a board member for her local crisis pregnancy center in Front Royal, Va., as well as the coordinator for the annual Walk for Life, an event that raises funds for the center.
“I’ve come to believe that the work done locally at crisis pregnancy centers is invaluable in helping women faced with the decision of abortion and changing hearts,” she says.
Brand and her husband, Jonathan, are parents of four children, one of whom is adopted. She says that she has an immense appreciation for women who are faced with an unexpected pregnancy, yet choose to carry the baby to term and place the newborn up for adoption.
“It is one of the bravest and most loving things a woman can do in this culture, where abortion is so prevalent and seems like the only way out,” she says.
She describes the juggling of her time as the mother of four little ones and a volunteer as “a bit of a balancing act.” Yet, balancing time is something that she says she learned to do well during her busy years as a student at Christendom. She was volunteering for this same pregnancy center back then.
“Christendom gave me a sense of mission,” she says. “There was a passionately pro-life culture at Christendom, which fostered my desire to work and pray to end abortion in our country.”
Christendom alumni were instrumental in the center’s 1991 founding. Nancy (’82) Briggs, Maggie Ciskanik (’84), Hannah Jurkowski (’86), Tom (’84) and Tina (’83) Furtado, as well as Frank (’83) and Angelique O’Reilly (’83) were founding board members who assisted in the launch and development of the center. Local Christendom alumni and students continue to assist as volunteers, including Maura McMahon (’09), who serves as one of the center’s staff members.
Today the center serves almost 400 women each year with over 1,200 visits and over $23,000 administered in material assistance. Additionally, last year, the center started an ultrasound program and currently sees 100 women each year, many of whom are abortion vulnerable.
“We are starting to see more and more women who are coming in for ultrasounds, who are leaning towards abortion,” Brand says. “Recently, a woman who had several previous abortions, chose life for her baby after seeing the ultrasound. In the past two months, seven abortion-vulnerable women, including three who had abortions already scheduled, did not go forward with their abortions.”
These victories for life are fruits of the center’s ministry, which Brand describes as “Christ-centered, offering love, hope and compassion by sharing the Gospel in word and deed to those He sends us.”
On September 27, the center will host this year’s Walk for Life with the theme “You’re not alone.”
“Our goal is to raise $40,000, which is what the center needs for the rest of this year to continue to provide it’s life-saving services,” she says.
The center offers a myriad of free services, including pregnancy tests; counseling; pregnancy and parenting education; referrals for adoption, social services, medical and legal assistance; material assistance, such as diapers, formula, and car seats; healthy relationships counseling; and post-abortion recovery referrals.
Brand describes the Walk for Life as a celebration.
“This is not a protest or a rally. The Walk celebrates our community’s gift of a life-giving ministry,” she says. “The pregnancy center is here to give support to the women in our community.”
For more information about the Walk for Life and the Front Royal Pregnancy Center, visit frpcwalkforlife.com.