Unplanned pregnancy support group in Falmouth hopes to expand its reach

A support program for women with unplanned pregnancies which began in October is already looking to expand from Falmouth all the way north to Lewiston.

The woman who started the support group for women facing unplanned pregnancies said her goal “is to enlist a few more parishes in the Greater Portland area…so that we can offer our services in one of four (Catholic) parishes each week so women know they have a resource to turn to. Rachel Vitello / The Forecaster

Walking with Moms in Need, based at Holy Martyrs Church at 266 Foreside Road, provides emotional support and counseling for expectant mothers through monthly meetings at the Catholic Church, where women can speak to one of group “mom coaches”. It will also help those interested in career counselling, parenting courses, and information about social workers and lawyers.

The group has provided services to two women so far, and its three volunteers are eager to help more.

Volunteer Laura McKee went through an unplanned pregnancy and made the choice to have and keep the baby. At the time, she was in a situation of domestic violence and had to flee the state. Now, nearly six years later, McKee said she wanted to help others because she knew what it was like to face a tough choice.

“I’m here as a volunteer to offer advice and be there to listen to what other women are going through. If they’re looking for support in any way, that’s what I’m here for,” said McKee, who lives in the Portland area. “I had an unplanned pregnancy while going through severe abuse – emotional and mental – and being stalked, and for me to come out on this side, so they can too, and I can be there to support them in everything they need.”

Holy Martyrs communications director Kim Palli, who started the group, said expanding the program would allow meetings to be held in the area every week, said Holy Martyrs communications director Kim Palli.

“My goal is to enlist a few other parishes in the Greater Portland area, as far north as Lewiston and Brunswick and further south towards Old Orchard Beach, so that we can offer our services in one of the four parishes (Catholic ) every week so women know they have a resource to turn to. Pali said. ”

Walking with Moms in Need is a nationwide initiative launched by the United States Conference of Bishops in March 2020. Palli started the local program because she wanted to offer something more proactive than prayer alone to help struggling women. with unexpected pregnancies, she said.

Expectant mothers who seek help do not necessarily have to decide to keep their baby. Another volunteer is a woman who has chosen to give her child up for adoption, and the group offers women information from Adoption Solutions of Maine.

Walking with Mums in Need meets from 4-7pm the last Monday of each month at Holy Martyrs Church in Falmouth. Rachel Vitello / The Forecaster

However, the group is reserved for women who are carrying their babies to term. Those seeking medical advice or information about abortion should consult with a “qualified and trusted medical provider about their options,” according to Amy Cookson of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.

Palli said the group hoped to expand to All Saints Parish in Brunswick first. Father Phil Tracy, the new All Saints pastor, said he hopes to continue conversations with Palli so his parish can be an asset to local women. There is no target date for the offering of a support group in Brunswick.

Palli said the support group would not be opposed to partnering with other religious denominations. Volunteers launched a “robust email campaign” to reach other local churches, schools and health centers.

While the group has only offered its services to two women so far, Palli said one was facing an unexpected second pregnancy and wanted to stop receiving state aid. before giving birth. This inspired volunteers to not only offer emotional support, but also provide career advice and resources.

Walking with Moms in Need meets the last Monday of each month from 4-7 p.m. at Holy Martyrs Church. Their next meeting is March 28. Those who want to speak with a volunteer confidentially, or who have questions, can contact Palli at [email protected] or 207-847-6885.

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Virginia S. Braud