With the help of a new ultrasound machine, the Little Way Pregnancy Resource Center will be able to show more women the life growing inside them sooner.
The new machine was donated by the Knights of Columbus Bishop Flaget Council 13053 in July.
Darlene Thornberry, who serves as the center’s nurse manager, said the new machine — the center’s second ultrasound machine — has been a “blessing.”
“It has far surpassed my expectations. It provides such clear imaging and it can visualize fetal heartbeat much earlier” than the older machine, said Thornberry. “Being able to show them life sooner helps and we’re very grateful.”
Twenty-one-year-old Haylee Schneider and her boyfriend Bryan Mateo recently found out they were having their first child. Schneider said she immediately started looking for a place where she could afford to get an ultrasound and that’s when she found the Little Way Pregnancy Resource Center. She was happy to learn, the service was free of cost, she said.
On Sept. 3, she had her second visit to the center, where she and Mateo were able to see images of the fetus — approximately the size of a blueberry at only seven weeks — on the new machine. Schneider said though she’s happy about the pregnancy, it’s also “scary,” but coming to the center has helped her feel less nervous.
“When you’re at a big doctor’s office it’s nerve-wracking. They don’t try to get to know you,” said Schneider. Mateo said the center has a personal feel.
“They remembered my name after the first visit,” said Mateo. The couple also said they feel supported by the Little Way Pregnancy Resource Center. They’ve realized, they said, that pregnancy is “not the end of the world.”
Jack Banbury — who serves as the Bishop Flaget Council’s Deputy Grand Knight, said the Knights of Columbus wanted to support the center because of all the options and services it offers women.
“We really like the Little Way Pregnancy Resource Center because when you’re a pro-life person and you have a young woman — soon to be a mother — and you’re convincing her to keep her baby you want to support her,” said Banbury in a recent interview. “The center supports mothers through the whole process … .We feel it’s a real A to Z kind of pro-life effort. We raise money for them all the time because they do such a good job.”
The piece of equipment costs a little more than $40,000. Banbury led the fundraising effort and the Knights raised close to $21,000 from individual donors, proceeds from the council’s Valentine’s Sweetheart dinner and dance and donations from five other councils, said Banbury. The Knights of Columbus Supreme Council in New Haven, Conn., contributed the rest of the money.
“This is one of the biggest successes in our (council’s) 16 years and to have done it during the pandemic is great,” said Banbury.
The Little Way Pregnancy Resource Center, located at 515 West Oak Street near St. Louis Bertrand Church, recently underwent a renovation that added a second room where the new ultrasound machine is being used, said Ellen Wichmann, the center’s director. The goal is to have two nurses doing ultrasounds simultaneously to serve more women, she said.
“We need to show them whatever truth there is,” she said of women seeking ultrasounds. “It’s been very impactful on our girls.
“The ultrasound room is where a lot of the impact happens,” said Wichmann in a recent interview. “We’re just providing them information and support and this machine helps with that.”
The center has also seen an increase in the number of women it serves during the pandemic. “We’ve seen so many more in crisis but we’ve gotten better at serving them,” said Thornberry.
The center offers pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and consultation where women are informed about abortion procedures and risks, adoption and parenting, according to the center’s website.
Wichmann said the center also offers four other ministries — a baby closet that offers items such as clothing and diapers; Parenting for Success, an education program for mothers; Journey of Hope, a ministry that helps women heal from the “emotional effects” of abortion and Healthy Relationship, a program for school-age children.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way certain things are done at the center, said Thornberry. Though they are still seeing clients, as usual, their Parenting for Success classes are being offered over the telephone, she said.
The center is also hosting its annual benefit virtually this year. The event, which usually takes place at the Louisville Marriott Hotel downtown, will be done in a video format featuring clients’ testimonials at 7 p.m. on Oct. 1.
The center is asking that individuals register for the online event by visiting https://register.littleway.org/benefit. Details about the online event will be emailed Sept. 30 to those who register.
For more information on the Little Way Pregnancy Resource Center, visit littleway.org.