Your First Look pregnancy center opens in East ToledoWritten by Bailey G. Dick | | firstname.lastname@example.org
A new center has opened its doors on Toledo’s East Side with the mission of helping women facing unplanned pregnancies.
Your First Look East Toledo Women’s Center, a program of Heartbeat of Toledo, provides free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and options counseling to women in need.
Located in the Historic Weber Building at 101 Main St., the newest branch of Heartbeat’s outreach is looking to serve one of the city’s most at-risk areas for women and children.
Lucas County has one of Ohio’s highest teen pregnancy rates, and more than 25 percent of households in East Toledo are headed by single mothers, according to Heartbeat’s website. The area also had the highest number of referrals for allegations of abuse and neglect to Lucas County Children’s Services in 2012.
Pat Todak, the executive director of Heartbeat of Toledo, said she had been scouting out spaces for the new location in East Toledo for months before settling on the Main Street location. She said it was important to find a warm, welcoming location for the center.
“We hear that at other organizations, you’re just a number and you’re not treated like a person. We wanted this to be a quiet, calming place away from the pressures of the outside world,” Todak said. “If I went to a spa, this is what I would want it to look like. We don’t want anything in here that would put subtle guilt on people.”
The new office space includes private counseling rooms, an ultrasound exam room and space for group classes. Two days a week, the center will offer free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, as well as confidential options counseling for pregnant women.
“Our ultimate goal is to help turn a woman’s fear about her unplanned pregnancy into confidence for the future,” Todak said. “Most women have abortions because they are scared and feel alone and unsupported.”
Todak noted that the clinic does not provide referrals for abortions.
“We are a pro-life organization and we don’t hide that fact,” Todak said. “But we find that by treating women with love and respect, and by giving them facts, 87 percent choose life after visiting our office.”
The office does testing for some STDs, and will refer some women for a more complete panel of tests for sexually transmitted diseases and infections.
On other days, Your First Look will host “Earn While You Learn” classes for expectant parents. By attending classes, expectant parents can earn credits they can redeem for baby clothing, diapers and other items. Topics for the classes include healthy relationships, empowerment for dads and other parenting essentials.
“They don’t just cover pregnancy. We start in the first trimester and go all the way through toddlers,” Todak said. “We want to go beyond crisis pregnancy; we want them to be good moms and dads too. The women will get to know other moms in the area, so they have support and can set up things like babysitting co-ops.”
Leeann Beach, patient services manager at Your First Look, said the office already had five new patient appointments scheduled. Beach will also make trips to community locations to reach out to young mothers, including nearby Waite High School.
Heartbeat of Toledo was founded in 1971 by Eleonore Maier and Dr. John Hillenbrand. The pair saw a need for emergency pregnancy centers in Toledo and across the country, and opened their first center in Downtown Toledo. The main Toledo office is now located at 4041 W. Sylvania Ave. near Franklin Park Mall. Heartbeat International, now headquartered in Columbus, leads more than 1,100 locations worldwide.
The Your First Look East Toledo Women’s Center will be dedicated to Irma Gray Hooker, a Toledo native who was known for her spirit of giving. Her son and his wife, Paul and Margo Hooker, made a substantial contribution to the new office.
Members of the community will have a chance to see the center during its open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 6, 101 Main St.
The organization will also host a banquet on March 26 at Premier Banquet Hall. Jason Jones, the producer of the anti-abortion films “Bella” and “Crescendo,” will be the guest speaker and dinner is included. The organization is accepting donations to help continue their work.
For more information, visit www.yourfirstlook.org.