RETA was invited to be part of Harvest Community Church's Missions Weekend, which kicked off at the beginning of November. RETA staff had a blast sharing with the church members all weekend about the services we provide and how folks can get involved with what we do. Rhonda represented us at the opening evening dinner, speaking with a table of Harvest members. Roxana and Joni spoke to small groups on Friday evening. Rod and Angie shared stories with the youth on Saturday evening and gave an overview to the congregation on Sunday morning. We had a great time!
RETA has some amazing volunteers - more than 50 regular volunteers, in fact. Through the first ten months of the year, our volunteers have put in more than 1,750 hours of service, through things like helping as parent coaches, providing ultrasounds, serving at our events or maintaining our mobile unit.
As a small symbol of our gratitude, RETA staff, headed up by Rhonda and Tonya, threw a Happy Merry Luncheon to recognize and celebrate our volunteers. Those in attendance played several Christmas-themed games, had a nice meal and enjoyed some fellowship.
Volunteers, thanks so much for all you do!
Last week, RETA’s mobile unit was taken to Fox RV, where it will receive some pretty big upgrades inside and out over the next two months. We’ll be updating the furniture, making our space more user-friendly for our medical staff and re-wrapping the outside of the unit. Check out the mock-ups to get an idea of what the new outside will look like!
Our mobile unit will be out of commission until mid-January, but clients are still able to schedule their free pregnancy tests or ultrasounds at our office in Elkhart.
We are currently working toward implementing STI testing. It is not yet something we do. This is just a mock-up.
RETA has been blessed with the opportunity to share at three of our supporting churches this past month, with another great opportunity early next month!
Clinton Frame Church invited RETA out to their first ever Mission Fair, providing Rod and Angie an opportunity to share about our services and volunteer opportunities. We are projected to serve our clients over more than 2,600 appointments this year because of awesome folks spreading the word about who we are and what we do! While we were there, Pastor Scott Miller of Pathway in Middlebury shared the Sunday morning message, encouraging folks to visit our booth.
Angie had the opportunity to present at Sugar Grove Church's Cultivate Women's Conference. She's pictured on stage with keynote speaker Kelly Minter. It was an awesome opportunity to share about how ladies can get involved in volunteering with RETA. Speaking of volunteering, if you're interested in partnering with us, check out retaforlife.com/volunteer.
Zion Missionary Church had Rod out to present as part of their Missions Week. After talking to the adults in the Sunday morning service, Rod joined the kids, who were making blankets for our Family Store. So cool!
We are very grateful for each of our supporting churches - for raising awareness, volunteering, giving and being the Church God has called them to be.
Rep. Jackie Walorski and Marilyn Musgrave from the Susan B. Anthony List stopped by RETA earlier this month. We're so grateful for our representatives and the work they do!
While the ladies were here, they toured our building, learned more about our programs and dropped off a report from the Charlotte Lozier Institute about pregnancy centers across the United States. Did you know that pregnancy centers saved their clients and communities more than $161,000,000 in costs in 2017? We didn’t either!
Based on the national statistics, we learned that in free ultrasounds alone, RETA saved our clients $94,000 last year. We couldn't do that without the awesome support of individuals, businesses and churches in our community. Thank you!
Tonya, RETA's Pregnancy Loss Support Coordinator, along with Julie from Northern Indiana Hope Mommies and Lynda of Loved Baby came together for a Pregancy & Infant Loss Candlelight Memorial event at Sugar Grove Church in Goshen on Sunday, October 21. The open house-style event provided families who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth and early infant loss an opportunity to honor their babies' lives, share their stories and learn about local loss support programs.
Attendees wrote notes to their lost children or a letter in honor of their baby, placed them under candles and lit the candles as a reminder that they were here and their lives mattered.
Losing your baby is tough. If you need support, please consider coming to RETA’s Pregnancy Loss Support group, which meets the second Monday of each month from 6-7:30 p.m. at RETA’s offfice.
This past month has been a hard month for the RETA family. We were deeply saddened when we learned of the deaths of two of our beloved clients - Lori and Lisa. We will miss them deeply.
Months before her passing, Lori allowed RETA to share her story and we are so grateful that we had the honor of seeing her life transformed through the grace of Jesus Christ. Below is her story.
LORI’S STORY, SHARED EARLY 2018
“I have a nine, six and three-year-old and I’m going to deliver in June. My nine-year-old is Ryan, my six-year-old is Chase and then I have Carson. I was in a very tough spot when I chose RETA. I was actually in a Planned Parenthood office with my third son and they had given me abortion numbers.
So I just fell to my knees and started crying. And then, someone came in and that’s when I got up and I was like, ‘You can walk this way or that way,’ so I just kept walking and never knew where I was going. It was in January, so it was below zero. I saw a cross on the sign, and it was the Faith Mission. So I walked in there and I was like, ‘I want to talk to somebody, preferably a female,’ because I think we would be more understanding with each other. While I was there, the coaches, they give referrals, and RETA was one of them.
When I was on my knees, it was just a wakeup call, and I was at rock bottom. That’s when I found Jesus. There’s a verse in Matthew – don’t worry about the clothes you wear, the food, and all these things. I’ll provide for you, so I believed. It wasn’t just believing, but I’ve seen him provide for me and he’s really shown me who he is.
RETA, Reason Enough To Act, they stepped up to the plate for single mothers and mothers who need insight and it’s great. It’s helped me become a better mother. I’ve been able to provide for my children better financially. It’s tough being a single mother and I can earn mommy money, go shopping in RETA’s Family store and get brand new stuff for my kids. It saves me money and it leaves me more money for them.
My situation has made me who I am today, so I’m thankful for hitting rock bottom and not being shy to cry in front of people. If I would’ve done that, I wouldn’t have my son, Carson. I’m thankful that I did not take that route and that I have my little boy with me, because he’s a joy. I just love him to death. He’s been my savior, almost like my rescuer. If it wasn’t for him, I might still be in the mess I was in – surrounded by drugs, on a friend’s couch and didn’t have anything of my own. Its great – you have something to live for, something to take care of.
I’m thankful for RETA, I can’t even explain how great this program is here.”
If you’ve never experienced an abortion in your past, it can be very difficult to understand the emotions and thoughts that race through a woman’s mind as she discovers she is expecting again. For this reason, several staff and volunteers attended a training conducted by Ramah International.
Ramah, named for the biblical account of Herod’s genocide of the children of Bethlehem, exists to equip those working in pregnancy centers to see through women’s eyes who have abortions in their past.
This training gave us tools to understand the thoughts a woman goes through as she processes the reality of the new life she carries and the other life she did not. A woman who is post-abortive may have a very strong emotional reaction to seeing an ultrasound of her current pregnancy. She may also have a numbness that won’t allow her to feel excitement over this new pregnancy as she doesn’t feel “she deserves to be happy” because of her past choice.
I very much appreciated getting these perspectives, and many others, presented in a new and fresh way. Thank you to our donors that designate funds for our continued training. These events help us to be better equipped at reaching our clients with the message of life.
Rhonda Feathers, RETA Receptionist
This past month, a handful of RETA staff and volunteers facilitated our third Abortion Recovery Retreat. The retreat allows for an extended time in a peaceful and secluded setting where we can explore the attributes and character of God in depth. Allowing ourselves hours of alone time with God and His Word brings us to face all the defense mechanisms we have built up to protect ourselves from Truth. Each group session, following a period of solitude and study, brings us closer to the Lord and learning how to walk with Him more completely. (And, of course, we enjoy some delicious food together!)
Participants had breakthroughs during the retreat regarding many of the relationships in their lives; with their children, spouses and marriage, their parents and or siblings. The biggest and most common victory we’ve seen over three retreats is learning to overcome the unworthiness and self-loathing some have felt for as many as 60 years.
This changes attitudes, and most importantly how we view our relationship with our Creator. Being forgiven, worthy, and loved changes lives.
Tonya Harwood, Pregnancy Loss Support Coordinator
Do you ever get that pounding feeling in your head? We've had it all day thanks to a great roofing crew from Kingdom Construction.
Setting up shop in a home built around 1910, RETA needs to do routine maintenance to keep up our historic facility. (Did you know we’re situated in the old Monger family home?) After some leaking earlier in the year, we discovered that a previous roofing crew - more than ten years ago - forgot to put decking on the northwest side of our building. For those of you who aren’t familiar, decking is what the felt and shingles are nailed to. We’re grateful for God’s hand of protection over our building for so long without problems! We’re also grateful for folks willing to get on top of a three-story home’s roof.
Sharing stories, tears and laughs, the RETA staff said goodbye to Nurse Manager, Mariah, as she moved on to pursue a new opportunity in the nursing field earlier this month.
Mariah, RETA's first medical staff member, helped implement important medical policies and procedures. She acted as a liason with our Medical Directors at Fairhaven OB/GYN. Shortly after deciding to go medical in 2014 and purchasing our mobile unit in 2015, Mariah was trained in limited obstetric ultrasound, had the privilege of driving the mobile, and helped train our second nurse, Melody. Melody says of her:
"Mariah was always easy to work with and showed great compassion to her clients and co-workers. She listened with empathy, and when someone had a broken heart, hers was also breaking for them. She was passionate about working alongside her clients to help them have the very best care and plenty of resources for their pregnancy. Mariah will be greatly missed here, but I know she will thrive in her new setting and the hospital will be a better place because of her!"
Thanks for helping get our vital medical work started, Mariah, and thanks for your care for everyone around you!
Mariah leaves some big Administrative Nurse shoes behind to fill.
If you or someone you know has a heart for what we do at RETA
and a degree in nursing, visit link.retaforlife.com/nurse to apply.
Golfers clopped into Meadow Valley Golf Club through sheets of rain and claps of thunder early Saturday morning, greeted by friendly RETA staff and volunteers. The golfers worked their way down the registration line, entering our raffle for a $500 Visa gift card, looking at door prizes like golf bags, restaurant gift cards, jewelry and automobile gift certificates, and picking up some free boxes of popcorn.
Despite the rain and standing water on the course causing the RETA Golf Outing presented by the Kerry Finnigan Rupright Foundation to be cancelled, more than $34,000 was raised. The golfers enjoyed donuts from Dutch Maid Bakery and Meadow Valley graciously gave our golfers rain checks to golf again another day.
A huge thank you to our golfers for coming out and trying to wait it out with us! Thank you to all of our sponsors for bringing everything together and thank you to our amazing volunteers for helping get everything around.
We're excited for the upcoming Celebrating Life Benefit Dinner on March 7, 2019 at the Northern Indiana Event Center! Learn about our Keynote Speaker, Ron Archer below. It's going to be a powerful evening.
Registration will open online at retaforlife.com/dinner on January 7.
INTRODUCING KEYNOTE SPEAKER
Ron Archer never should have been born. In the early 1960s, his mother was a seventeen-year-old call girl in Cleveland, Ohio, when she became pregnant—a hazard of the trade. A back-alley abortion failed, and Ron came into this world as a neglected afterthought. Ron overcame a lot growing up. He was sexually abused by a sadistic babysitter, teased unmercifully by schoolmates as “Renaldo the Retardo” because of his constant stuttering, and physically and verbally abused by his stepfather. At age ten, alone in the house, he put a loaded snub-nose revolver to his head and pulled the trigger. The gun didn’t fire. A kind schoolteacher took an interest in Ron and helped him overcome his stuttering. She told Ron that he was not a mistake and that he was created for a purpose. "You are a gentle soul, but you are going to be strong," she said. "You have a beautiful voice. You don’t hear it yet, but I believe that God is giving you a gift, a gift to speak."
Christian Milovich from Oaklawn Psychiatric Center stopped by RETA this month to train our staff, and some spouses who work in security, on de-escelating agitated individuals.
We learned how to help people who may be aggravated return to a calmer state from times of anxiety, defensiveness or total loss of control through what we say, how we say it and how we act while we communicate. It was important for us to remember to be calm when others have heightened emotions and if we are unable to do that, to tag out with someone else who is able to enter the situation with fresh eyes, ears and emotions.
The most important takeaway from the day wasn't about a new technique we learned in helping someone return to a calm state, however. Our takeaway was simply to remember to ask people who look anxious how they're doing. We could save someone's life in the process. Keep your eyes open and your heads up.
After six sweaty hours in the astonishingly humid Elkhart outdoors, RETA volunteer Bailey and staff Angie, cleaned up our landscaping. They removed old brush and weeds and put down new mulch. Great job, you two - you really cleaned things up for us.
We recently updated our online payment processor, moving away from PayPal, to Stewardship Technology. Along with this change, we gained the ability for donors to give via text. Simply by texting "give" to 574-444-0292, donors will receive a text back with a link to donate. Check it out below.
The change to Stewardship Technology also allowed for a branded giving page. Even better than that, our donors can give with even more confidence that we are receiving the amount they're giving, because Stewardship Technology allows for an option to cover transaction fees normally incurred by payment platforms like PayPal.
We're so grateful for all of you who make what we do possible everyday through your generosity! We want to steward your investment to the best of our ability.
RETA had a great time at this year's Elkhart County 4-H Fair. Bringing out an updated display, we had several expectant parents stop by our corner booth in Exhibit Building F, hearing about our free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds for the first time. We also had grandparents pick up resources for their kids, moms who experienced the loss of their babies learn more about our Pregnancy Loss Support and dads pick up information about Men's Coaching.
As of the time of writing, we had a jam-packed Sunday of back-to-back pregnancy tests and ultrasounds at our mobile unit, which was also at the fair, behind the Grandstand on Rotary Blvd. We have three days of services scheduled at the fair. It's always neat to introduce new folks to RETA by serving them right where they're at - eating an elephant ear right before getting an ultrasound.
The ladies of RETA's Mothers' Club recently had a picnic this past Thursday and it was a blast. Meeting at Twin Branch Park in Mishawaka, the moms grilled up some hot dogs and hamburgers while their children played at the splash pad. Enjoy some photos from their time!
Mothers' Club starts back up on Thursday, August 23 at Belmont Mennonite Church in Elkhart from 9:30 - 11 a.m.
I recently attended the annual ICU Mobile Conference in Ohio along with RETA staff Mariah, Melody, and Joni. It was a full two days of networking with 19 of ICU’s 44 affiliates throughout the nation attending the conference. All ICU Mobiles are manufactured at Newmar Corporation in Nappanee, so we were honored to represent Elkhart County! We were challenged to make our mobile ministry even better through workshops like Community Engagement, Recognizing Signs of Abuse and Ultrasound Tips and Techniques. We also attended practical workshops on Overcoming Generator Angst and Personal Safety for Mobile Staff.
Sylvia Slifko, who founded ICU Mobile 15 years ago, told the story of how God revealed the idea of the name ICU to her by the realization that it can also be interpreted as I See You. Just as God sees us in the womb before we are born, through ultrasound technology, we can also show the image of an unborn baby to their parents.
During her message to the crowd, Sylvia referenced John 4, saying Jesus chose to go through Samaria to get to Galilee because he knew there was a woman at the well who needed him. Likewise, thanks to our mobile, we can go to seven different locations throughout our area five days a week. We go because we know there are those who need us, to show the image of unborn life to their parents and to be the image of Christ to all we serve.
- Roxana Konopinski, Executive Director
RETA volunteer, Tammy Victor and a group from her church - Shepherd's Heart Fellowship, made their way to Elkhart to do some painting at RETA over a weekend in June. The staff came back the following Monday to some bright white, straight lines on the parking lot and much better looking columns!
We are so grateful for volunteers and groups who partner with us to help with these tasks. If you'd like to learn more about getting involved by volunteering, click Volunteer under the Get Involved tab at the top of this page.