After posting our job opening on July 31 and prayerfully looking at applicants over the next two months, we finally have our Administrative Nurse! We’ll have a full profile on Stephanie in our next edition of The Reason, but we couldn’t wait to share the good news with you! Thank you so much to those who shared about the job opening and prayed for us!
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.
Mothers' Club ended for the 2017-2018 school year with a brunch at Belmont Mennonite Church in Elkhart at the end of May. The ladies, grandparents and their children showed up to enjoy the event. Attendees were encouraged by RETA Executive Director Roxana, who recognized two outstanding volunteers during the event.
Sharon and Brenda were thanked for their faithful years of service in childcare at Mothers' Club. They gave our moms a much-needed break so they could fellowship with other moms - learning, cooking, crafting and enjoying each others' company. Enjoy some photos above from the day!
Meet Carla Biro, one of RETA's newest board members.
Carla works as the Director for Gr8t Beginnings of Elkhart County, an emerging Early Childhood Coalition program working to ensure the children of Elkhart have positive developmental experiences, strong and safe environments in which to play and grow, and support systems for their parents. Carla has been married for two years to her husband Mike. They have a blended family of six, five boys ages 12-22 and one girl age 10. She and her family attend Grace Community Church. Carla has a love for fitness and enjoys running. She also has an amazing story of God's grace, as she once walked in the shoes of some of the clients RETA serves.
In Carla's own words, "Nearly 25 years ago, I walked into the doors of RETA frightened and hopeless. My Islamic background failed to give me the hope I later learned came from only trusting in Jesus. I was 15 and pregnant. My mother was an addict but allowed the love she had in her heart for me to place me in what was known in 1994 as Sarah’s House. This was a home through RETA for teen moms. Here I received the first revelations of Christ’s unconditional love. The foundation of who I am today was laid during this season. I was surrounded by disciples that gave no judgment and loved me from the low starting point on my journey. Fast forward to today, RETA has continued to walk with me through a long journey of healing. I’ve not only benefited from the love of my house parents at Sarah’s House, I’ve also benefited from the deep healing allotted through the Forgiven and Set Free program offered by RETA."
Carla continued, “I would like to know that my story (my testimony) made a difference in the life of a teen mom. I want to know that a baby was saved by the usage of my work and/or my testimony. I want to give hope to teen moms that are contemplating completing school, abortion, or any other life-altering decisions that may come from an unplanned pregnancy.”
We are so grateful to have her onboard!
Every day at RETA is different. Volunteers and staff hear tough stories, offer compassion, and share laughter and prayer. Sometimes we experience interesting and challenging situations as we interact with clients. God is at work at RETA, and He has opened two new doors for our ministry to dads.
Indiana prisons, jails and other facilities are full of men, either temporarily or for the long term. According to the June 2018 Indiana Department of Corrections population report, 1,036 new individuals entered IDOC in May 2018. By county of commitment, Elkhart County has 1,554 locked up plus 531 who are involved in community corrections programs. Combined with other categories, that brings a count of 2,145 individuals from Elkhart County who are either incarcerated or in a correctional program. In our county jail, about 720 of the 870 current inmates are men.
In our efforts to change our culture, one man at a time, I have recently begun teaching a men’s group in our local Work Release program. In this facility, about 45 women and 250 men serve part of their sentence, and most are able to maintain employment. A few months ago, we asked the administration about bringing Men’s Coaching in, and we were warmly welcomed and invited to come.
In the last month, I have met with a group of guys and taught about various parenting styles and ways to manage their emotions as well as their kids’ emotions. We discussed how to intentionally develop the best qualities in themselves and in their children. Everyone is eager to make stronger connections with their kids in their limited visits, and we explored creative ways to do that. The guys have been humble, funny, teachable, honest, blunt, receptive and positive.
When they have fulfilled their obligations, those who live in the area will be welcome at RETA. They will know somebody they can trust for advice, positive input, and a connection to other resources.
On a related note, in August, I will begin teaching a class for fathers in our county jail. Pray for the men in work release and the jail as they gain tools to be better dads, mend relational fences, and count the days until they can live at home with their families. Pray that they would be open to God’s work in their hearts and lives. Pray that I would be wise and faithful as the Lord directs in these opportunities.
Jeff Fater, Men's Coaching Manager
Our desire is to make our services as accessible as possible to our clients. Today we're expanding some communication options. We added chat and appointment requests to our website.
As you can see in the photo above, there is a chat box that appears on the website no matter what page you're on. Just click the Chat Now text to begin a conversation or click the X or the blue circle to dismiss it. It's powered by Facebook Messenger, so you can start a conversation with RETA on your computer and take it to your phone.
Here's how a conversation looks on a computer:
As you're browsing, you can speak with someone from RETA. Here's what it looks like on mobile:
Going back to computers, did you notice the big blue Request Appointment button? It's also featured on all of our applicable service pages:
When you click the button it will take you to this page:
Clients can fill out the type of appointment they'd like, a preferred date and time and send their request in. Our receptionist or administrative assistant will follow up with them to get them scheduled. Pretty cool!
Speaking of cool. Google recently updated their mobile search. If someone types in RETA on a mobile browser, they'll see an option to message. When they click that, they'll speak directly with someone from RETA, right from the search result! Here's what it looks like:
If you have any questions, give us a shout on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, our website, through a Google search on a mobile phone, email or call us. Talk to you soon!
On the bright, beautiful Saturday morning of May 5, Moriah and Jenny Randolph organized a group of volunteers from People's Bible Church in Benton to run a 5K to benefit RETA. After months of finding sponsors, collecting prizes and getting medals, the run began through county roads in a green, forested loop. Walkers brought children in strollers and dogs ran with their owners. Winners of the timed run received gift cards to local restaurants. It was a fantastic event and we're very grateful for all the hard work the Randloph's and People's Bible Church put into the event to support RETA. Thank you!
Nancy Leatherman, RETA board member of three years, recently stepped down from her position due to health reasons.
"Nancy has been the type of board member that goes out of her way to be an encouragement to our staff and to me personally. Besides much needed encouragement, she has brought wisdom and insight to our board meetings. Her dedication and support has been shown in her desire to share about RETA to everyone she knows. It is an honor to call her friend!"
- Roxana Konopinski, RETA's Executive Director
Nancy accepted the invitation to join RETA's board after her experience of taking a pregnant granddaughter through RETA's services. She was impressed with the curriculum and staff as she sat through her granddaughter's coaching sessions. Nancy's desire to tell others about RETA, combined with her innate ability to encourage others fuels her desire to see RETA's reach expand to more young mothers and their babies.
Originally from a small town 80 miles south of Chicago, Nancy moved to the Elkhart area where she studied to become a dental assistant. After graduating and taking a job at a dentist's office, she met Max and the pair married shortly thereafter. Today they attend First United Methodist Church's downtown campus. Nancy and Max have two children, one of whom they adopted as an infant, several grandchildren and one great-grandchild. They are grateful for the young woman who chose life for her child, giving them a sweet gift.
Nancy, thank you for your amazing love and support for our staff and your heart for the clients we serve. You are awesome!