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Supporting women, helping families: Free clinic to offer pregnancy testing, support, referrals and parenting classes

Director Deb Schweitzer stand behind the reception desk of the Badlands Choice Clinic on Tuesday in Dickinson. The clinic is scheduled to open on Tuesday, Nov. 3. (Press Photos by Linda Sailer)

Young women who fear they may be pregnant, need support through a crisis pregnancy or feel overwhelmed with a new infant will be welcomed at the new Badlands Choice Clinic when it opens Tuesday, Nov. 3 in Dickinson.

The services will include testing for pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, counseling, referrals and parenting classes.

“I’m so excited for the potential that we have to make a difference in the lives of families,” said director Deb Schweitzer, a registered nurse.

After months of planning and renovations, the non-profit clinic will open at 303 Third St. W. The services will be free because of support by volunteers and donations from the community. The hours will be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and 2-6 p.m. Wednesdays. Walk-ins are welcome, but appointments are encouraged by calling 701-483-9353.

It’s mission is Christ-centered. “Empowering women and families to make life affirming pregnancy decisions through counseling, education, compassion and aid through the gospel of our Lord, Jesus Christ.”

“The mission is one of my passions,” Schweitzer said. “It’s supporting women and providing parents with the education to help their children become the best people they can be. If we support parents, we are helping to build community.”

Discussions about opening a clinic started 1½ years ago by several members of the Evangelical Bible Church and St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. A non-denominational board was organized, and the clinic became closer to a reality after the clinic site was secured and a director was hired, secretary and board member Jessica Dukart said.

“We feel there is a need,” she said. “We will provide support for women facing a crisis pregnancy, counseling and referrals. We will be the middleman if they they decide to go the adoption route, and referrals if domestic violence is going on. We will offer classes for women struggling with parenting and provide all the services free of charge.”

The planning phase took longer than expected because everyone is a volunteer, board president Marlo Nelson said.

“It’s a beautiful blending of minds and efforts and honestly, it took everybody to pull if off,” she said.

The board hopes to build long-term relationships with the clients who seek their services.

“Because we are helping the whole family, we offer something for every aspect prior to pregnancy, during pregnancy and after the baby is born,” Nelson said. “We have a baby boutique where clients can earn points by attending classes. The points are used to purchase clothes, diapers and strollers for their babies.”

An important aspect of the clinic is limited use of an ultrasound machine to hear fetal heartbeats. The machine was purchased through fundraisers by the Knights of Columbus.

“It’s important, because once you see a baby’s heartbeat, everything changes,” Nelson said. “We welcome everybody in the community who is needs any type of our services. We have counselors from different faith denominations and secular services.”

Volunteer Tamera Cartaglia stepped forward to help after her son started preschool and she was a close family friend of the Schweitzer family.

Citing the reason to help, Cartagli said, “I know Deb needs all the help she can get.”

Schweitzer has a background with the Key Infant Development Services, or KIDS, program. She assisted with the program’s education and developmental screenings of infants.

“The simplest things can make a huge difference in a child’s development, “ Schweitzer said. “One thing I think is so unique, is parents earn while they learn. You can earn baby clothing, diapers, strollers — all types of things by earning points in classes. Parents will also be given credit for the earn-while-learn program if they participate in any other approved classes in the community.”

She is forming community partnerships with local physicians and clinics and agencies such as Stark County Social Services, Community Action and adoption services.

Because the clinic is non-profit, fundraisers are necessary. The first community fundraiser is the Heartbeat Benefit banquet on Thursday, Nov. 5, at the Astoria Hotel & Event Center in Dickinson. The evening opens with a silent auction at 6 p.m. and dinner at 6:30 p.m. There will be local talent, silent auctions and a presentation by Msg. Tom Richter from the Diocese of Bismarck.

Tickets are $25, and tables of eight are $200. Contact Audrey at 701-690-5998.

“The benefit is for everyone who wants to help young families in need, whether single or married,” Nelson said. “We want to show that Dickinson is a supporting and loving community.

For more information, visit badlandschoiceclinic@gmail.com.

Services

* Pregnancy testing.

* Limited OB ultrasound.

* Pregnancy options information.

* Adoption counseling and referral.

* STD testing.

* Prenatal and parenting education classes.

* Community Resources and referrals.

* Post-abortion recovery resources and referrals.

* Earn-while-you- resource program.

The clinic does not perform or refer abortion procedures or provide artificial contraception.