When Mylaika Stephenson became pregnant as a teenager, she knew the abortion was a failure. Her faith recognized the sanctity of life, and she and the father of her unborn child, Jonathan, wanted to do the best they could for their child.
But Stephenson also knew she needed a lot of help.
This is where Pregnancy Center North, a pro-life women’s resource center on York Road in North Baltimore, has become a lifeline.
Stephenson confirmed the pregnancy at the center and found support from the staff.
“I could be pregnant and I didn’t have to be embarrassed about it,” she said of the center. “It’s hard being a teenager and walking around with a big belly. Much of the pressure that the outside world put on me stopped when I entered there.
After graduating from high school, Stephenson went to Notre Dame University of Maryland in Baltimore on a scholarship and graduated last May with a degree in business and communications.
Now 23, Stephenson is the proud mom of her preschool daughter Leilah.
Over the past four decades, stories like Stephenson’s have become commonplace at Pregnancy Center North. From its beginnings, the centre’s work has had an impact, helping up to 1,000 women a year by the early 1980s.
“Right now we have about 400 clients a year,” said Cindi Ritter, the center’s executive director and parishioner of St. John the Evangelist in Hydes. “It equates to around 1,000 visits, because they (the parents) come back for the educational component and the material support. Last year we did 77 ultrasounds, but we average about 100 ultrasounds a year. This year we’re probably going to be closer to 100.”
Pregnancy Center North will hold its annual fundraising dinner on September 15 at 6:30 p.m. to celebrate 40 years of service to parents and babies in the Baltimore area. During the anniversary celebration, the center will honor its founder, Delores “Dee” Silverman, with this year’s pro-life award. Silverman, who now resides in Nevada, will be the subject of a Zoom presentation.
“When it started, they were just doing pregnancy tests and material assistance,” Ritter said. “In 2012, we became a medical establishment. We have an ultrasound machine that was donated by the Knights of Columbus and we are now able to offer free ultrasounds. Our medical director is a medical doctor and our sonographer is a licensed medical sonographer.
The center’s roots are Catholic and local parishes have helped the center thrive over the years. Silverman is Catholic and she instilled Christian values in the center she created.
“Early on, we would connect with local parishes for our pool of volunteers and also for support,” Ritter said, noting that his center has touched the lives of more than 30,000 people. “We have many volunteers from various parishes, mainly Immaculate Conception in Towson. They support us through fundraising. Many churches fundraise for the bottles and they also come to our events.
Center leaders plan to announce a fundraising campaign on September 15 to help fund its move to a new location further north on York Road. The new location will have its own parking lot and more space.
The lease is three times that of the center’s current location, but center leaders have already raised a small nest egg, although additional funding is needed. Ritter hopes the move will take place in December.
“Currently our customers and staff have to park on the street or use a parking meter,” she said, “and we’re on the second floor. This will give us first floor access, plenty of parking, a larger facility with plenty of room to accommodate everyone.
For more information about the fundraiser or to attend, call (410) 377-2871 or email [email protected]
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