Caring for a child is no easy task. Lighthouse Pregnancy Resource Center, a faith-based nonprofit in North Jersey, offers an extra set of helping hands to women facing unplanned pregnancies. All of Lighthouse’s services—pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, parenting and relationship mentoring, STD testing and post-abortion counseling—are offered free of charge.
In 2014, Lighthouse already had two locations, but saw a need to expand into densely populated urban areas. That’s where Wyckoff resident Carol Youngmann came in. After retiring from her 30-year career at IBM in September 2013, she led the effort to open Lighthouse’s largest facility in Paterson. The organization’s two other facilities are located in Hackensack and Wayne (previously Hawthorne).
“Because of Carol, Lighthouse moved its life-enhancing services related to pregnancy, parenting and relationships within reach of those who needed them the most,” says executive director Debbie Provencher.
Youngmann, 59, helped plan the new, 2,600-square-foot Paterson facility, which opened in August 2015. It includes counseling rooms, a computer room, an exam room and a children’s play room. The site also houses the Renew Life Center, a nonprofit offering empowerment classes for parents living in poverty.
“Unplanned pregnancies can be overwhelming,” says Youngmann. “This is a place where [a woman] can come and she’s loved and cared for, and somebody will sit and talk with her.” Some of the 35 volunteer peer counselors have been through similar situations. “They know what it’s like,” says Youngmann. “They’ve felt that fear.”
The 6,700 appointments in 2016 are a testament to the work Lighthouse is doing. Lighthouse raises funds through its annual Baby Bottle Boomerang campaign and group baby showers hosted by local churches. An additional dozen volunteers help out weekly between the three sites.
In Youngmann’s volunteer role as Lighthouse’s board chair, she spends about 16 hours per week on planning and budgeting.
“When you see people who were in trouble and without anything turn into people who are filled with hope and try to take charge of their lives,” says Youngmann, “that is very motivating.”Click here to leave a comment