The Crazy Fun Mothers' Club Picnic

RETA's Mothers' Club Picnic took place this week at Twin Branch Park in Mishawaka and it was a blast! The ladies had fun playing games, while their children played on the splash pad and jumped around the bounce house. Mothers’ Club’s leader, Brandi, planned several fun activities for the moms, including a game where the moms, as a team, had to carry a hula hoop using only their index fingers to the finish line. After the games, the moms and their children got to enjoy some delicious grilled food.

Mothers' Club is a free community group for moms to get together to laugh and learn. It meets Thursdays from 9:30-11a.m. at Belmont Mennonite Church in Elkhart during the school year. Free childcare is provided for infants through pre-k. There's no registration required. Mothers' Club kicks off on August 22.

At The Elkhart County 4-H Fair

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The Elkhart County 4-H Fair brings something new and something familiar each year we attend and 2019 was no different.

The weather causing the fair to close early was something new this year. At RETA’s mobile unit location, our three nurses were able to provide pregnancy and STD testing and ultrasounds five days at the fair. During our non-service hours, RETA staff and volunteers gave tours and chatted with passersby. Due to rain and storms on Sunday at the fair, all attendees were asked to evacuate - including those in the middle of an appointment on our mobile unit!

Each year at our other location at the fair in Exhibit Building F, we see the older couples who walk by silently, glance over and give us a thumbs up in appreciation of our work. We see the young families with little children who stop to pick up our baby models, which show the development of a baby in the womb. The same goes for the pregnant mothers who stop as well. We get to answer questions from those in need and interested in our services. We make new community partnerships with like-minded individuals. We don’t often have folks stop to berate our work, but that unfortunately happened this week as well.

As a supporter, you’re probably aware we provide life-affirming services and that we don’t coerce women into making the decisions we hope for. We provide a pregnancy test, ultrasound and all the information that a woman needs to make an informed decision. Our hope is that through hearing the truth about the pre-born child she’s carrying, she will choose to parent or place for adoption.

One of those who stopped at our booth to decry our work said we “better have services available for those [we] make keep their disabled babies”. We were able to reply kindly and honestly that Elkhart County has great resources for those parents - ADEC, Lighthouse Autism Center, Mosaic as well as great programs in our schools. We’re grateful to live in such a resource rich county!

Speaking of our resource rich county, those who visited our booth also took notice that we were fortunate to be next to Veni’s Sweet Shop from Nappanee, selling delicious fudge. Make sure to stop by our booth next year to say hello and stick around to get some fudge while you’re at it!

Summer of Service at RETA

A group of nearly 20 students and adults hopped out of a bus in front of RETA’s office before making our landscaping look new and cleaning all of the children’s toys in our coaching offices. The students were part of a weekend of volunteering known as Summer of Service.

Summer of Service is an annual event hosted at Bethel University for students from churches of different denominations to come together to serve their community.

We were fortunate to have the upbeat crew take a tour of our building, learning about our services and passing along information that they can share with their peers who may need it.

We are so grateful for groups who volunteer in these ways - cleaning, landscaping, doing maintenance work, drives for our Family Store or fundraisers - which help the staff to focus on our mission. If you have a group interested in volunteering with RETA, give our office a call at 574-522-3888.

More Secure Thanks to You

Last month, RETA’s office was vandalized, with two windows broken by rocks. The staff found out on a Monday morning after coming in and seeing the windows in one of our coaching offices and our medical room broken. We were sad to say the least. Not knowing the motivation behind the thrown rocks, we looked at other local businesses to see if they’d experienced anything similar and they hadn’t.

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At that point, RETA didn’t have any security cameras outside our building. We’d never needed them. After contacting our security company about installing outside security cameras and a window repair place to get everything fixed, local church plant, Cornerstone Vineyard Church, offered to pay for the window. This was such a blessing!

This month, the windows were fixed and the security cameras were installed. If we have a later evening for our mobile unit or a late night at the office, we are now safer with the camera system. We wouldn’t have that without the support of our amazing donors. Thank you!

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Nurse and STD Training Complete

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Melody, RETA’s Administrative Nurse, recently trained our staff and mobile advocates to prepare us for STD testing. She went through everything from answering phone calls and social media requests, to scheduling appointments, how tests will run and how they fit in with our pregnancy testing and ultrasound.

STD testing officially began on June 17. When clients come in for an STD test or for a pregnancy test and request an STD test as well, we are able to use the urine sample to test for gonorrhea and chlamydia. (We’ll continue to expand our STD services to include men and other STDs in the future.) The test is then shipped to a lab, where it’s processed and within 48 hours, we receive the results electronically to let our clients know if they are positive or negative. We want to use this service as a way to educate our clients about the importance of sexual risk avoidance.

Speaking earlier of training, Darcy and Kim, RETA’s two new staff nurses completed their ultrasound training this week. In July, they will be ready to begin doing ultrasounds on their own. This is huge as we’ll be able to see more clients in our office and on our mobile unit.

Training, Testing and Treating | Medical Expansion

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There are some new and exciting developments in RETA’s medical program!

Last month we mentioned that two nurses joined our staff. Darcy and Kim are halfway done with their ultrasound training and should be finished and on their own by the end of June. (Thank you to everyone who has volunteered to be an ultrasound model for us!)

Starting June 10, RETA will begin providing free STD testing and treatment at our office and on our mobile unit around Elkhart County! As we begin the new service, we'll be seeing females and testing/treating chlamydia and gonorrhea, with expansion of the service to men and other STDs in the future. We wanted to launch into this area, not only because Elkhart County has the seventh highest STD rate in the state, or because we want to begin expanding into women’s health services, but also for the opportunity to reach and educate more sexually active clients with our mission.

Speaking of reaching more, did you know that 1 in 4 women doesn’t receive any prenatal care? Working with our medical director, RETA now offers free prescriptions for prenatal vitamins to anyone who is pregnant or would like to become pregnant. Those interested can contact one of our nurses at the office and they will contact your local Walgreens, Meijer or Martin’s Pharmacy so you can get free prenatal vitamins.

5K For RETA

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Moriah and Jenny Randolph of People’s Bible Church spearheaded a 5K fundraiser for RETA that took place in early May. With our mobile unit on-site, 225 runners started their run, enjoying the scenic route down tree-canopied county roads. The event raised more than $12,000. People’s Bible Church also took a collection of items for our Family Store. We are so grateful for their amazing support!

Escape Artists

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Thanks so much to Way Out Escape Rooms for running an Art Heist Escape Room experience at RETA! The hour-long escape room had players solve puzzles to find a code to unlock an uppity art professor’s frame holding his prized painting. Participants then switched out the painting with “The Poker Dogs” picture and take a selfie before time ran out. The groups who participated had a blast and together raised more than $800 by having some fun.

New Nurses

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Welcome RETA’s two new nurses, Darcy Lederman (above) and Kim Shaffer (below)!

Darcy believes in our mission and wants to be used by God in her new role as Nurse/Sonographer. She enjoys cooking, playing with her kids Jackson (3) and Henry (1), kayaking, mountain biking and reading. She’s married to Kenyon, her husband of five years.

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Kim joined RETA’s staff because she has a desire to be in the community, helping others and sharing the love of Christ. She loves

spending time with her family and doing crafty things - quilting, sewing, decorating. She has two children, Matt (30) and Logan (23) and has been married to her husband Mike for 31 years.

We’re so excited to have them on our team!

Our Medical Director, Gayle Borkowski, MD

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Meet Dr. Gayle Borkowski of Fairhaven OB/GYN, who serves as RETA’s Medical Director. She became RETA’s Medical Director in March of 2019 because she believes we need to protect life from conception through the end. She’s in a unique position to provide expertise as a woman in the OB/GYN field because she wants to buck the assumption that as a female, she must hold a more liberal view of women’s health. She serves as a voice for women in the medical field who hold to more conservative views.

Dr. Borkowski has been on staff at Fairhaven OB/GYN since 1998 and is the most senior partner there. She pursued OB/GYN care because of its broad spectrum, from providing primary care through surgical intervention.

She is married to her husband of 25 years, Shek and has four children, ages 17-24. When she’s not busy with her duties as a doctor, Gayle enjoys horseback riding.

We are so grateful for her heart for what we do at RETA!

He's Here! Staff Baby, Elan

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RETA staff members, Rod and Angie Tackett recently had their long-awaited baby boy! Here’s what Rod had to say.

Elan (EE-len) Salem Tackett was born Wednesday, March 20 at 7:33 p.m. He is 7 lbs. 14 oz. and 20.5" long. His first name is a take on a Hebrew word for tree based on the verse Isaiah 61:3. "And provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called trees of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor." His name is a name of hope for us, after mourning the loss of our beautiful daughter Avi two years ago this same week. His middle name is a Hebrew word for peace, which is something we want to define our family. All together, Elan's name means tree of righteousness and peace. Elan is the display of God's splendor. He points to God's faithfulness to walk with us, see us through hardship, provide for our needs and to show he isn't finished with us yet. We are so thankful for God's abounding mercy to allow our son life and the honor to raise him! We ask for your prayers for wisdom as we learn how to parent and do our best to not suck at it. Thanks for your love and prayers over these last two years for our family and for your love and prayers in the years to come as Angie and I rise to a new season of life helping our Little Tree to grow.

We praise God for his life and celebrate with them! Welcome, Elan!

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Trick Baby

Dr. Ron Archer spoke to a packed crowd at the Northern Indiana Event Center on Thursday, March 7 at RETA’s Celebrating Life Benefit Dinner. His booming voice and powerful story inspired those in attendance to stand up for the sanctity of life.

Ron’s story begins with tragedy, as he was born to a teenage call girl after failed back-alley abortion attempts. His life was plagued with abuse and torment because of his disabilities. After a teacher stepped into his story, that all changed. She began to show him that God loved him and had a plan for his life by teaching him how to read by learning the Bible. Ron’s life changed when he met God and learned about who he was as God’s dearly loved child. He graduated as valedictorian and went on to become a church planter and presidential adviser. We’ll be posting a video of our evening together on our Facebook page and YouTube channel soon.

Ron has a book, entitled What Belief Can Do coming out in May of 2019, which can be pre-ordered at https://amzn.to/2NRxLSS.

The dinner has so far raised $202,000 as donations continue to come in. We're so grateful for everyone's support to make free pregnancy testing, ultrasound, parent coaching, pregnancy loss support and healthy sexual boundaries education possible for our wonderful clients. Above are some unedited photos of our amazing evening together.

Staying Inside the Fence

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Joni and Jeff from RETA have the privilege of presenting our Healthy Sexual Boundaries Education in local schools, most recently at Elkhart Memorial High School. Students are encouraged to choose abstinence before marriage as a means to their best life, helping them think through how their choices now will impact where they end up and how it will impact their future relationships.

Near the close of their presentation, they help the students think through the difference of reducing risk versus avoiding risk. As Jeff says, “You can’t just get part of an STI or get just a little bit pregnant.” The only foolproof way of making sure you don’t get an STI or experience an unplanned pregnancy is abstinence. We know this because our coaches have met with pregnant clients who have used various forms of birth control, whether medication or barrier.

Abstinence is a difficult, but not impossible choice. It’s made easier through determining where your boundaries are. Jeff says, “It’s a lot easier to figure out your boundaries ahead of time. 11 o’clock on a Saturday night watching a romantic movie when the parents aren’t home is probably not the best time to try to figure out what your boundaries are.” Setting up boundaries, like not allowing a boyfriend over when parents aren’t home or not staying out with a significant other past 10 p.m. are boundaries that will help students reach their ideal future. They know what their triggers can be.

Jeff compares boundaries to a small child inside a fence. Inside the fence is the parent who is just a call away, the friendly dog, the red ball to play with and the plush grass. Outside the fence are the noisy, zooming cars, stray animals and strangers. The little girl can walk up to the edge of the yard and look outside the fence and see these things are around, but she’s protected from them by the fence. In the same way, the students’ boundaries act as a fence that keeps them on track for their ideal life. They know these other things exist, but if they stay inside their boundaries, without a doubt, they will be in a better, less complicated, more fulfilling spot in life.

You can learn more about our Healthy Sexual Boundaries Education which is offered to groups or one-on-one here.

A Reminder for 2019

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“This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.’” - 2 Chronicles 20:15

Before the end of each year, RETA has a staff retreat. In preparation for the retreat, the staff send our executive director, Roxana a scipture or two that we feel would be a good theme for the coming year. The scriptures are posted at the retreat and the staff prayerfully vote for their top three. We then discuss and select the scripture that will be our theme verse.

For 2019, 2 Chronicles 20:15 was selected. We are not in the business of battling in the hurtful and divisive ways the world does. We recognize though, that this year has a lot in store, for the staff personally and professionally and for the organization as a whole. We face situations and enter the stories of our clients daily. This can begin to feel like we’re facing a vast army. The verse is a reminder for us that God has us. As we listen and obey, he is guiding, leading and empowering. He is giving us the wisdom and strength we need to face and accomplish what he’s called us to do.

We hope that’s an encouraging word for you as it is for us!

From Client to Board Member

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Meet RETA board member and secretary, Katie Mayfield. Katie has served on RETA’s board since October 2015. An Elkhart native, she graduated from Elkhart Central High School in 1999 and pursued social work, attending IUSB thereafter.

Now working at a law firm next door to RETA’s office, Katie is blessed to have a job that allows her to love, encourage and walk through difficult times with her clients who face end-of-life issues for themselves or their loved ones. She’s reminded daily of the sanctity, fragility and brevity of life - not only from her job, but from her own life experiences.

Katie is a single mother of six. She has three beautiful children, middle school through college-age, here on earth and three in heaven, who were lost to abortion and miscarriage. Her experiences with her lost children ultimately led her to receive services at RETA, and after finding healing, freedom and forgiveness in Jesus Christ, Katie now provides a unique perspective serving our RETA’s board of directors.

She hopes to make an impact with RETA through building relationships and empowering Elkhart by sharing truth, love, hope, resources and education. We’re so glad she’s part of our team!

2019 Celebrating Life Benefit Dinner

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Our Celebrating Life Benefit Dinner presented by The Norris Estate is only six weeks away! We're going to have presidential adviser and NFL consultant, Dr. Ron Archer share his incredible life story after being born to a seventeen-year-old call girl after a failed abortion attempt and the transformation that took place in his life. We're also going to hear from a former RETA client, now volunteer, who went through our Abortion Recovery Support program, as well as a local OB/GYN who performs Abortion Pill Reversal. It's going to be an incredible night.

We still have seats open for our Celebrating Life Benefit Dinner presented by The Norris Estate! Our main auditorium is currently filled and we have seats in our video venue across the hall, featuring live hosts and a special meet and greet during dinner with Dr. Ron Archer.

To be transparent, if seats open in the main auditorium, those signed up first in our video venue will be moved into the main auditorium. If our video venue is filled, we will create a waiting list.

Make sure to get your reservation in today at retaforlife.com/dinner!

Nice Ride!

RETA’s mobile unit upgrades are complete! During Thanksgiving week, the mobile unit was dropped off at Fox RV, where the inside was renovated over the next two months with new furniture, chair covers and carpet.

The shower and stove were removed to make places for better storage. Along with those changes, a sink was added to the exam room as well as a new ultrasound probe disinfection station and an emergency exit door and stairs.

Not wanting to neglect the outside of the vehicle, RETA staff Rod worked on a preliminary design for a new wrap on the outside of our mobile unit.

After finalizing the design with the crew at Bandit Signs and Graphics, the mobile unit was re-wrapped. We are so excited to begin services again in mid-January around Elkhart County.

Those looking for a free pregnancy test or first trimester obstetric ultrasound can schedule an appointment by calling our office at 574-522-3888 or visiting our website at retaforlife.com/appointment.

Work Release Update with Jeff

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For six months straight I have invested Monday evenings with dads in the facility commonly known as Work Release in Goshen, Indiana. In that time, 57 different men have attended class. Men and women here are serving varying amounts of time for a variety of offenses. Blank looks, a few quiet nods or “Evening, sir” serve as greeting. Airborne odors inform you that many people dwell within these concrete walls. A brief check-in and pat-down take place before being escorted through the halls. An officer announces, “Men’s Coaching in classroom C”.

In the room, the lights and air-conditioning kick on, and they keep us alert and prevent dozing. Guys arrive and sign in; those who have been in class before are enthusiastic and the new guys are polite. Men bump the plastic chairs into place behind the tables and banter abounds. I provide lesson materials. New attendees get RETA brochures and folders as I explain the basics of RETA and introduce our topic.

The discussion or video begins and guys fill in blanks on their handout. Instead of lecturing, I entertain a dialogue about the issues. We all share real-life, relevant stories. There is little embarrassment here, much honesty, and an acknowledgement of reality.

Some men express cynicism about their legal situation. Some are angry about the limited contact their girlfriends or wives permit them with their daughters and sons. Some cry about the mountains they feel they will have to climb before they will be allowed consistent time with their kids after their release. Some shed tears of gratitude because their voice and heart were heard by a sympathetic ear.

Some guys laugh about their kids doing stuff they used to do when they were kids: “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!” Experienced dads wisely share about learning from mistakes and gently advise younger guys to avoid repeating the same ones. Some dads are curious about where to start with their kids after a long separation: “What do I say? What should I give them? How do I explain my actions and my absence?”

They have learned communication skills to improve their relationship with mom. They have learned about parenting styles and how to maximize personal strengths. They have learned about the impact families feel by both involved dads and absent dads. They have learned about creating rituals for their kids as they age and move into new seasons in their lives. They have talked about and imagined reconnecting with their children, face-to-face and heart-to-heart. They have learned the purpose of appropriate discipline, co-parenting tips and traps, and how to connect emotionally with their kids.

I could share many more details, but please note… These dads’ hearts are very soft toward their kids while often hardened toward other people as well as “the system”. Many of these dads need Jesus. The men and women in work release need us to pray for them and their families as they transition back into the community and their families. Pray that men in my class would respond to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

by Men’s Coaching Manager, Jeff

Harvest Time

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!