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1/5/2017 9:00:00 AM
Catholics work toward crisis pregnancy center

Oneonta will soon be home to a new crisis pregnancy center.

The Haven, as it will be called, aims to be a place for families to get counseling, talk about their options in dealing with an unexpected pregnancy and seek support.

Paul Wenner, a parishioner of Sacred Heart Church in Stamford, is leading the charge to get the center up and running. Having been involved in the pro-life movement for years, Mr. Wenner has retired from 37 years as a forester with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to focus on readying the center.

The Haven has already been approved as a 501c3 non-profit organization. Mr. Wenner is now searching for the perfect location, hoping to open the center by summer. Although there isn't a building yet, Mr. Wenner is excited to offer patrons non-medical support.

"The closest crisis pregnancy center is over an hour away," he told The Evangelist. With both a SUNY school and Hartwick College in Oneonta, unplanned pregnancies are a definite issue in the area.

Jean Naples, a parishioner of St. Mary's Church in Oneonta, can attest to that.

When she was a junior at SUNY Oneonta in 1976, Mrs. Naples found herself pregnant.

"The doctors offered me one option: abortion," she said.

The young woman refused. She married the baby's father and gave birth to her son two weeks after she finished her final exams. She did earn her degree, taking only one year off.

The couple was married until Michael, her husband, died of a heart attack. They ended up having five sons.

Mrs. Naples has also been involved in the pro-life movement for many years. She supports The Haven.

"I see the potential for a lot of good here," she said. "Every baby makes a difference. Everybody has a purpose."

Although The Haven will not be a medical facility at first, Mr. Wenner hopes that won't be too far away. He hopes the center will be able to offer testing for sexually-transmitted diseases, as well as ultrasounds for pregnancy.

Organizers hope to get an ultrasound machine through the Knights of Columbus, who have a national initiative to match whatever local K of C councils raise for an ultrasound machine.

The Haven's supporters are an ecumenical group, with people of Protestant, Evangelical, Catholic and other faiths involved.

"I've met young women, and even women my age, who have been touched by abortion," said supporter Pam Lamont. A Lutheran, she is concerned that many women often have nowhere to go when they realize they're pregnant.

"The Haven really wants to be demonstrating the love of Jesus by meeting those emotional and spiritual needs," she said. "It's a good place for people to come and become more comfortable with their situations."

The supporters are raising money through many area churches. Donations are still coming in, but Mr. Wenner said that money will always be an issue for the center.

Mrs. Naples wants to reassure young women that "you can have a happy ending."

(To donate, send checks payable to The Haven to PO Box 351, Oneonta, NY 13820.)

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