Center Helps Make It Easier To Have A Baby


There are crisis pregnancy centers all over the country, but Payson's New Beginnings is better than most, according to Jan McQueen, who heads the local group.

"We have more services and give girls more help," she said. "It may be because we're a small town and know the girls personally."

For a small town, the numbers seem staggering -- New Beginnings' volunteer counselors saw 152 clients last year. Close to 75 percent of the center's clients are between 15 and 18 years old.

"People have no idea how many clients we see," McQueen said. "It's a small town, but people are the same all over -- we're still created with the same instincts." She said 80 percent of the women who come to New Beginnings are not married.

New Beginnings Crisis Pregnancy Center has been working to help young pregnant women and girls for the past five years and is an independent non-profit organization that gets support locally from churches, businesses and individuals.

The center provides counseling and material help that aims to help women give birth rather than have abortions.

McQueen has been managing the center, which was started by Dean Schlosser and Lisa Smith, for the past two years.

"It's all donations," McQueen said. "Nobody is paid. It's all volunteer."

McQueen is the mother of four children, a grandmother of 10 and great-grandmother of eight. She got married a month before her 16th birthday.

"It was one of those that stuck," she said. "We just celebrated our 50th anniversary."

Even though her own experience as a young mother was a happy one, McQueen said it's hard to see 15- and 16-year-olds having babies. She works 40 hours a week to do what she can to help them.

She said her husband, Bob McQueen, a commercial real estate broker with Coldwell Banker, makes enough money to enable her to volunteer her time.

"There are 14 others who volunteer their time," she said, "doing everything from laundry to the counseling of the girls." If a woman is interested in placing her baby for adoption, the center provides referrals for additional counseling.

One man, Ron Potter, repairs the baby furniture that goes to the young parents. His wife, Arlene, launders the maternity clothes and baby clothes the women get. Iris Gebebaugh also does laundry "a lot," said McQueen.

Local organizations bring packages and products to pass on to the mothers for their babies.

One woman, Alice Konnonman, knits baby booties that fit the newborns.

"She has arthritis in her hands and she's doing this," McQueen said. "She even calls to find out how many we need and when we need them."

About a half dozen other women knit and crochet baby shawls and receiving blankets for the newborns.

New Beginnings moved into its new location at 408 Main St. in November. Before that, the group offered counseling and some material help from an office in Bonanza Square.

Since moving to the Main Street location, New Beginnings opened a store that sells used maternity and children's clothing. McQueen said the group opened the store so that families area-wide could buy clothing at a reasonable price.

"The pay scale here is not high," she said. "Both parents are forced to work and they need help to dress their kids."

The store is bright and clean and the clothes look new. It's a place to shop where people can feel good about their purchases.

"I don't want any kid to feel inferior because his or her clothes happen to be used," McQueen said. "I want the parents to feel good when they dress their kids."

Another reason for having the store is to help support the work of New Beginnings.

The group has formula, baby food and diapers for anyone who is in need of them. New Beginnings also supplies vitamins free to the pregnant women, compliments of Centrum Vitamins, which responded to McQueen's request for help.

There are working people who are between paychecks who sometimes come in to get diapers. And it's a place for the young women and their babies to go for help and support beyond their material needs.

One young woman, Karissa Ross, stopped by to visit with her baby, Colton. It's a part of the job McQueen likes best, when the former clients just stop by to say hello and show off their babies.

It was obvious that the two women had developed a special friendship as they giggled and cooed over the healthy, happy baby boy.

"We love the continued contact," McQueen said. "When they just come in to see you, you know you've accomplished something. When they do that, you know you meant more to them than things."

Ross, like all the clients, was given a new layette when Colton was born. McQueen said it helps the young women feel good about themselves and their babies "to be like every other young mother in the hospital."

She said many of the clients are referred from the Department of Economic Security. Some are referred from the schools.

They are given pregnancy tests and are assisted with the forms they have to fill out to get financial help at DES.

McQueen said she'd like to add a sonogram machine to the group's services to enable the women who have no insurance to get more than the one sonogram that DES will provide.

Their cases are kept confidential, but there's a bulletin board on the wall with pictures of many of the mothers and babies.

"As confidential as the client's case is, the mothers all want to be in the picture that is put on the bulletin board," McQueen said.

Those who would like further counseling get appointments and are shown videos on a baby's growth in the uterus. There's instruction on breast feeding and birthing classes. Some of the young women bring their mothers with them.

Sometimes their boyfriends or husbands come with them. "That's a good sign," McQueen said.

"We find out what their needs are and try to fulfill them."

Sandy Navarro, a counselor at New Beginnings, called out to McQueen from another office. She had just received a welcomed phone call.

"My girl had her baby -- a little boy, five pounds, eight ounces," Navarro said. "and everybody's doing fine."

"It never gets old hearing about the new babies," McQueen said.

For information or to donate to New Beginnings, contact Jan McQueen at 474-4026.

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