574-444-0292

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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.

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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.

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We ♥ the 4-H Fair

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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.

 

Mothers' Club Picnic

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.

ICU Mobile Conference

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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

Shepherd's Heart Paints Their Hearts Out

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.

Last Mothers' Club of the School Year

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 the Board | Carla

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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!

Open Doors in Men's Coaching

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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

Chat & Appointment Request Now Up

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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:

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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:

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When you click the button it will take you to this page:

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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!

5K For Life

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 The Encourager

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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!

Divine Design Women's Conference

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The women’s leadership at Grace Community Church created a wonderful weekend retreat for ladies at their Divine Design Women’s Conference.  RETA was invited, along with several other local non-profit organizations, to set up a table focusing on the service opportunities available for women to be a part of through volunteering.  As the ladies had breaks between sessions, they visited the different groups represented.  It was great to hear that so many of the ladies in attendance knew who RETA was and the services that we have available.  Thank you so much to the leadership team for the worshipful music and helpful teaching during the Divine Design Conference.

Tree of Life

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"So small, but such a huge impact."

"Faithful servant."

"Praying grandparent."

"Until we meet in heaven. Love Mom and Dad."

Each phrase tells a short story, commemorating the life or volunteerism of a loved one on RETA's Tree of Life.

In 2005, RETA's Tree of Life was created as a visual way for donors to honor and remember loved ones. The tree, which was originally painted in RETA's stairway, now resides on the second floor of the building. Created by RETA's Administrative Assistant, Angie Tackett, the tree is cut from plywood, with leaves made out of maple, cherry, walnut or gold.

Some special donors purchased a leaf for the Tackett's, both on staff, after they lost their daughter in March of 2017.

"It was so neat to know our daughter's short life was honored in this way - giving to provide life-affirming services and to see her name toward the top of the tree as a reminder that she made a difference," said Rod Tackett, RETA's Advancement Director.

If you would like honor a loved one by purchasing a leaf, click here. You can fill out the form and submit it online or you can print it and mail it in. Payment can be made through our website by clicking Donate Now (make sure to write Tree of Life in the note section) or sending a check made out to RETA (300 W. High St., Elkhart, IN 46516) with Tree of Life in the memo line.

Restroom Renovation Finished!

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RETA's medical restroom, located on the first floor of our building, was in the process of being renovated. It was finally completed this month and it looks great. It will be more functional for our nurses and clients alike, especially for pregnancy testing.

Thank you to Tom and Janice Metzler and their grandson Kylor, Shawn Blosser, Jeremy Neverman and Bailey Kessler for all your work on the renovation!

FUN FACT - When the building was purchased by RETA, the medical restroom was originally a food pantry built off of a kitchen.

Our True Colors

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You might be thinking that color theory is something artists and marketing folks ponder about, but not pregnancy centers. And, well, you're absolutely right.

When Rod Tackett, RETA's Advancement Director came on board last July, he wanted to bring unity to RETA's programs, materials, naming systems and colors. So you can blame him for adding pregnancy centers to the list of places that ponder color theory.

Here's Rod's explanation on RETA's colors and what they mean.

Blue is the color that invokes trust and is used by most local hospitals. Naturally, blue had to go with RETA's Medical Services - pregnancy testing and ultrasound.

Green is the color of renewal and new life. We tied this color with our Pregnancy Loss Support program as a reminder for those who have lost a child through abortion or through miscarriage, stillbirth or premature infant loss, there is hope, support and new life just around the corner.

Orange is the color of fun. (Just look at Nickelodean.) It best represents kids, so naturally we tied this color to our Parent Coaching and Resources.

Finally, yellow is the color of caution. Look out for the icy bridge, pedestrians crossing or that church around the corner. This very easily tied to our Healthy Sexual Boundaries Education, helping students make the positive choice of abstinence before marriage by creating and holding to boundaries.

Meet the Board | Richard

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Meet RETA board member, Richard Armington. He began serving on the board in January of 2018. Richard grew up in New Paris and graduated from Fairfield, where he participated in football, basketball and baseball.  He attended Bethel College, where he played basketball and met his Middlebury-raised wife, Deb. They have been married for 38 years and have four children, three of which are married and have children.  Richard and Deb have six grandchildren under the age of 7, with another due this July.

While at Bethel, Richard’s major was in education and he spent four years teaching and coaching locally.  He has been in the food distribution industry for 29 years and is currently employed by Troyer Foods in Goshen.  He previously spent 4.5 years in development with Compassion International.

Richard first learned of RETA through longtime friends, Wendell and Peggy Norwood, who helped start RETA. His wife taught him even more when she began volunteering. Richard believes in the sanctity of life and how RETA lovingly embraces those who need help and doing so in the way Christ modeled for us.  He has been involved with RETA for over ten years.  He prays that he is found faithful in his service and helpful in any way and area where God might lead and RETA might find need.

Feeling fortunate to have traveled extensively through his mission's work, Richard has been to Africa, India, Ecuador, Peru, Honduras, Mexico, Dominican and Haiti.  He has also enjoyed recreational trips to England, France and Italy, as well as many locations in the Caribbean and the United States. If he could travel anywhere in the world he would go to Israel - the Holy Land.

If Richard could choose only one food item to eat for the rest of his life - and if nutrition wasn't an issue - he would dine on nothing but chocolate.  His realistic choice would be pizza because he could periodically make sure it had a good mix of vegetables to create a somewhat balanced diet along with pepperoni and sausage.

We're glad to have you on board, Richard!

Verse of the Year

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"May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of
our hands for us - yes, establish the work of our hands." - Psalm 90:17

At the beginning of each year, RETA's staff prayerfully selects a Bible verse as a theme for the year. Psalm 90:17 was chosen for 2018 because we hope the Lord will impact others through our work in big ways.

In 2017, RETA served clients through more than 2,480 appointments. RETA’s nurses performed more than 300 pregnancy tests and more than 375 ultrasounds. Our coaches met with clients more than 1,030 times, serving mothers, fathers and couples to give them tools to help them be even better parents.

We pray that God would use us in even greater ways in 2018, building off of what he did through us last year. Psalm 90:17 goes hand-in-hand with our mission of providing life-affirming services and building Christ-centered families. With the Lord's favor, our work is established to help make Elkhart County an even more vibrant place for moms, dads and their kids to live.

Baby Bottle Boomerang

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For fifteen years, RETA has run the Baby Bottle Boomerang. Baby Bottle Boomerang is a fundraising campaign that churches, service/student groups and businesses can participate in to help support the services RETA provides for our clients. Organizations can fill the bottles with cash, coins or checks.

On average these bottles have raised $5,000 to $11,000 a year for RETA. Just ten bottles can raise $200! RETA's Executive Director, Roxana, has a goal for 2018 to raise $6,000 from the Baby Bottle Boomerang.

 

GET INVOLVED

If your organization would like to support RETA through a Baby Bottle Boomerang campaign, here's how it works:

1. Contact us at reta@retaforlife.com or call us at 574-522-3888 and let us know you'd like to start a Baby Bottle Boomerang Campaign.

2. RETA will provide you with baby bottles that contain instructions.

3. You'll have one month to collect donations.

4. At the end of your month, return the bottles to RETA and we'll tell you how much you raised. 

The Importance of Fathers

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Thank you so much to those of you who came out to RETA's Celebrating Life Benefit Dinner presented by Newmar! With your help, the evening raised more than $180,000 for RETA to continue journeying alongside moms, dads and their children, from first trimester to their kids' teen years and beyond.


The following article was featured in the Goshen News from local correspondent Denise Fedorow.

“Dads, stay in.”

That was a central message in the talk delivered by Davey Blackburn, keynote speaker for RETA’s (Reason Enough to Act) annual banquet Thursday evening at the Northern Indiana Event Center.

Blackburn is founder and lead pastor of Resonate Church in Indianapolis. His former wife, Amanda Byars Blackburn — an Elkhart native — and their unborn child were killed in a home invasion on Nov. 11, 2015. Blackburn shared how he got through that devastating time — four years to the day they moved into their Indianapolis home.

He said both he and Amanda felt like God was preparing them for a season of pain, so when he walked in and found her lying in a pool of blood, he thought something had happened to the baby. Then he found out she had three bullet wounds — one to the back of the head — and it didn’t look good. He said their entire world was turned upside down.

Blackburn said he prayed for a miracle and with faith that providing that miracle would resonate with those in the hospital and bring many people to Jesus. But that wasn’t God’s plan. Instead, he said, their story is being shared all over the country.

“Sometimes you don’t appreciate life until you experience death,” he said.

Blackburn said he struggled to try to be mom to the couple’s toddler son and said he had an internal conversation with God who told him, “You don’t have to be a mom. Moms are good at telling children about God, but what you have to do is be a dad because only a dad can show a kid who God is.”

That caused a revelation that fatherhood is under attack in our society. “Because the enemy doesn’t want us to know God as Father,” he said.

Blackburn said we tend to project our feelings and thoughts about our earthly fathers onto our heavenly Father. He said most of the famous atheists are fatherless. He discovered that the men who broke into his home were in gangs and the one that is responsible for taking the life of his wife and child was abandoned by his parents.

Blackburn was led to research the detriment of a fatherless country — due to death, divorce or imprisonment. Some of the statistics he shared included: 63 percent of youth suicides, 90 percent of homeless or runaway teens, 70 percent of juveniles in state facilities, 80 percent of rapists, 71 percent of high school dropouts, 85 percent of youth in prisons and 71 percent of pregnant teens are from fatherless homes.

“That’s what I love about RETA," Blackburn said. "They take a holistic approach on this."

Blackburn said these statistics show “the institution of fatherhood is vital in our society. I believe God’s plan all along was family. The best form of evangelization is the family unit. Don’t neglect sharing Jesus with your kids.”

“And Dads — stay in.”

Blackburn also shared that he remarried in December and his wife was present, sitting with his former in-laws. He shared for the first time a little of her story. She was a single mom with a child born out of wedlock. She was ashamed to go to her doctor or to her parents. And she knew other Christian girls like herself who chose abortion to avoid that embarrassment.

“As a pastor, hearing that hurt me because it told me we’re creating a culture in church where sins have to be hidden,” Blackburn said.

He challenged attendees to be fathers for the fatherless and to support single moms and dads. The message Blackburn strives to spread — aside from the importance of fatherhood — is one of hope in the midst of tragedy.

“When we choose life, hope and forgiveness, he (God) will restore,” Blackburn said.

After the event, he was asked why he wanted to speak at this event. He replied, “I think it’s important subject matter. It’s always important to talk about life and hope, especially when there is so much death and war. Anything I can do to provide that message of hope and healing, I want to.”

CELEBRATING LIFE BENEFIT

The annual banquet is a benefit for the organization that started in 1985. This year there were 1,100 attendees — up from the record-breaking 860 in attendance last year — creating the need for an overflow in another hall.

The evening began with a couple of clients sharing their stories about how RETA has helped them.

The first ever Advancement Director Rod Tackett was the master of ceremonies for the event. He shared that the budget for this year was $460,000 and last year they had 2,500 appointments. They have a staff of nine, including two nurses and 70 volunteers. RETA is not government funded and the donor base is made up of 60 percent individuals, 25 percent businesses and 15 percent churches.

They offer pregnancy testing and ultrasounds in-office or in the mobile unit. RETA also offers abortion recovery support and a new pregnancy loss support program for those who have experienced miscarriage or stillbirth. They meet the second Monday of each month at the RETA offices.

Healthy sexual boundaries education through abstinence before marriage is offered through presentations and individual discussion.

Parent Education is also offered with Mom’s Coaching, Men’s Coaching, Couple Coaching, a Mother’s Club and Family Store where clients can earn points to shop for free for clothing, baby items, diapers and more.

All of RETA’s resources are provided free of charge. Newmar Industries was the major sponsor of the event with gold and silver sponsors Norris Estate, Community Foundation of Elkhart County, Premium Concrete, Main Street Roasters and Redeemer Radio (95.7 fm) the media sponsor.

To donate, volunteer or receive assistance from RETA contact them at 574-522-3888 or www.retaforlife.com. A current need is for heated, indoor storage space for the mobile ultrasound unit.

RETA is for YOU

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The following is a special post from Roxana, RETA's Executive Director.

I often wonder if everyone knows that RETA’s services are for everyone. If you are a donor, a supporter and believe wholeheartedly in our mission you already know we help women and men who are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy or parents who need extra support. You may even understand that we have people of all ages coming to our programs.

But do you ever think that we are also here for you or those close to you?

I love the fact that because we don’t receive government funding, we are not limited to serving only those of a particular income bracket or have children of certain ages. RETA’s programs are for anyone who has a need. Do you know of someone in your family, a neighbor or someone in your church who could use our Mom’s Coaching or Men’s Coaching? Have you or someone you love experienced the painful loss of a pregnancy or stillbirth? Do you know someone who has regret and hurt from an abortion decision? Regardless of how long ago or how recent these events, many struggle to find a safe place to share their hurt and sometimes there is hesitation to share even amongst their Christian community. 

Please keep in mind that RETA isn’t just here for other people. RETA is here for everyone and everyone includes you and those you love.