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Local rotary club to support women’s health clinic

Connect Medical Clinic in Dickinson is the recipient of Dickinson Rotary Club's Community Kindness outreach.

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Zero to three month onesies can be donated to Connect Medical clinic per the Rotary Club's Baby Items Drive. (M.C. Amick/The Dickinson Press)

Dickinson Rotary Club would like to invite locals to take part in some community kindness by donating various baby items such as baby towels, diapers, diaper bags and especially 0-3 month onesies to the Connect Medical Clinic in Dickinson. The clinic’s Executive Director Tara Zettel said these donations have been coming at the perfect time as the clinic had nearly run out of the items.

“The milestone gift baskets, it’s like a baby shower in a basket, we give them a basket of items for their baby at birth, at six months and then at one year if they continue with the program,” Zettel said.

Rotary, according to Zettel has made monetary donations to the clinic in the past, however, she said this year, they are Rotary's Community Kindness Recipient.

Community Kindness Chairwoman, Dawn Pruitt said Community Kindness Outreach is one of the many ways in which Dickinson’s Rotary Club gives back to the community.

“Rotarians really enjoy being able to give a little every month, and outreach to the community ... we’re a service club, so that’s in our passion as far as being able to be supportive and do community service,” Pruitt said.

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Zettel said these items are part of the clinic’s “learn to earn” program, an education program consisting of pregnancy and parenting related courses that, on completion, result in free necessities such as diapers and wipes. Zettel said supplies are doubled if the expectant mother has a sponsor going through the program alongside her. The clinic also provides pregnancy and STI tests free of charge. Zettel said services are paid for via donors and the STI tests come from the North Dakota Department of Health.

However, last spring, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the clinic had to make some changes regarding those services

“We weren’t able to continue STD (STI) or pregnancy testing but we were able to go online with our educational program ... specifically this earn while you learn program. We were quickly able to ... text the link to the lesson to the mom,” Zettel said. “We were able to stay connected, especially through this earn while you learn program.”

The clinic, Zettel said, also conducted fertility education online.

In both 2019 and 2020, Zettel said they’ve served exactly 320 patients each year.

For Zettel, maternal and sexual health is not only professional but personal. At 19 years old, Zettel’s mother had been presented with a tough choice: abort or adopt. Zettel’s mother originally chose abort but later changed her mind and chose adoption. Not long after Zettel came into the world, her mother decided to keep her all because someone cared.

“She kind of went through the whole gamut of what we see at the clinic, just a scared, alone, terrified young woman without the support of the father of the baby ... the difference it made that there was someone at the maternity home supporting my mom and then eventually the family supports that gave her the strength to be a parent,” Zettel said.

Seeing the community rally around those who struggle to find that support is something Zettel appreciates most regarding the donation drive led by the Rotary Club.

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Zettel also acknowledged the stigma often associated with services related to sexual health, particularly, women’s sexual health. Zettel said she wants to be there for unwed mothers who feel alone and aren’t sure what to do regarding their pregnancy. She added the overall culture is changing to regard sexual health in the same way as physical and mental health.

Being a safe place for young people to bring their sex-related questions is something Zettel enjoys most about her job at the clinic. She said no questions are off limits.

“We are available, we are here and instead of feeling alone or afraid or disconnected ... we are here to tell people they are strong and they are empowered and surrounded by a community of support,” Zettel said.

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Part of CMC's program are the 'milestone gift baskets' which Tara Zittel described as "baby showers in a basket' (M.C. Amick/The Dickinson Press)

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