Pay-it-forward mentality helps pregnancy centers thrive in Texas

Eric Trevino and Irma Gomez make their way through League City's Anchor Point Pregnancy Center, glancing into each room they pass and pointing out to each other various programs and items they find  particularly interesting or helpful.  Their tour guide is Tracy Stanisich, Pregnancy Center Director of Anchor Point.  She steers Trevino and Gomez into a room that normally serves as a classroom for the pregnancy resource center's clients, and their meeting begins.  Trevino and Gomez have taken a day trip from McAllen, where they serve on the board of the McAllen Pregnancy Center, to glean advice and wisdom from Stanisich and the staff of Anchor Point on the ins and outs of the Texas Pregnancy Care Network (TPCN).  Today, Stanisich is answering Trevino and Gomez’s questions about receiving funding from the TPCN. 

The TPCN was created in 2005 when the Texas legislature reallocated funds from abortion businesses, such as Planned Parenthood, and created the Alternatives to Abortion program.  The program then gave birth to the TPCN, which reimburses service providers — including many pregnancy resource centers — for client services, such as counseling and mentoring.

Because the paperwork to become an official service provider with the TPCN is meticulous, Trevino and Gomez have traveled to League City to meet with the staff at Anchor Point, which has been a registered service provider through the TPCN for two years.  Anchor Point offered help to the staff from the McAllen center by sharing what they have learned.  The visitors quickly realize that their visit will teach them more than how to complete paperwork correctly; the board members from the McAllen center will return home with a multitude of ideas from Anchor Point, from changes in curriculum to day-to-day operations, that would help them to serve the women and families of the Rio Grande Valley.

The McAllen Pregnancy Center (MPC) sits at the corner of Houston and 12th streets, only several blocks away from the abortion mill Whole Women’s Health of McAllen.  Because of ongoing legal challenges to HB2, the mill has opened and closed several times in the past year. McAllen Pregnancy Center remained a constant oasis.  When the abortion mill temporarily shut down, Trevino said the number of women visiting the McAllen Pregnancy Center increased, many of the women mistakenly thinking they were the abortion center.  Of those confused women, a vast majority choose Life after their counseling and sonogram at MPC. 

The eyes of the nation are on the Rio Grande Valley because objectors claim an alleged “undue burden” exists in making women travel further to procure an abortion when their local abortion mills fail to meet the law's health and safety standards.  Thus, Trevino, Gomez, and the rest of the board agreed the center needed to make improvements to accommodate and help more in the Valley.

So they find themselves in Houston on a sweltering August day, having finished their visit at Anchor Point.  They now travel to the Beltway 8 South Crisis Pregnancy Center in south Houston.  When Anchor Point was still a fledgling center in 2011, the staff at Beltway 8, specifically Executive Director Jean Killough, walked them through the logistics of starting Anchor Point and making the center successful.  Three years later, Anchor Point has more than 1,000 clients.  Guidance from Killough and Beltway 8 has been enormously helpful; now Stanisich is taking Trevino and Gomez to visit Anchor Point’s mentor.  This type of “Pay-it-forward” type mentorship has been crucial to establishing the successful pregnancy resource center network that exists in Texas today.

“When we started our center, we started at ground zero.  We had nothing,” Killough told Texas Right to Life.  “It took us about a year to write all our policies and procedures, make our classroom curriculum and to just establish the center.  When we did all of that, we said ‘wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could help other centers that are starting just like we are?’”

Killough meets her visitors at the door of Beltway 8 South and gives them a tour.  Beltway 8 South has expanded over the years, and now boasts eight counseling rooms and an ultrasound room to provide a much-needed “window to the womb” to women in crisis pregnancies.

The ways in which the Beltway 8 center has helped Anchor Point are innumerable.  Now the staff members of Anchor Point want to pay that help forward by taking Trevino, Gomez, and the McAllen Pregnancy Center under their wing.

“We came back so excited about what the other centers are doing and we even passed on the enthusiasm to our board members,” Gomez said.  “We are just excited to offer more to our clients in McAllen.” 

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