CHAMPAIGN — Greta Henry sees women in the midst of crisis pregnancies and women trying to escape abusive relationships.
Many of these women need a real refuge, she says, and her organization, Living Alternatives Pregnancy Resource Center, is asking donors to help provide it.
Living Alternatives plans to start construction this spring on a new Champaign home for women in crisis called Merci's Refuge.
Plans are for this residential program to open in the fall, says Henry, Living Alternatives' director of Champaign ministries.
Merci's Refuge will be built just east of the Living Alternatives Pregnancy Resource Center at 205 Wilbur Ave., C, behind the Salvation Army's Red Shield Center on North Market Street, Henry said.
Living Alternatives needs to raise about half the $600,000 project cost to start building, she said, and donations got a big boost recently with a $100,000 check sent by a donor who wishes to remain anonymous.
Living Alternatives is a Christian anti-abortion organization, and its resource center offers counseling and information about unplanned pregnancies, pregnancy tests and ultrasounds along with new-parent education classes.
The residential program next door is intended to help some of the women who turn up at the resource center, "to nurture them to be the women God meant them to be," Henry says.
Some women need more help than the resource center can provide.
In fact, Henry said, she and her husband have taken some of the women who come to the resource center into their home for a time because the women think their situations are hopeless and they have no place else to turn.
"This is so needed in our community," she says of Merci's Refuge.
The home will open with space enough for eight teens and women age 18 to about age 28 to stay, without cost to them, for up to a year while they focus on making lasting changes, undergo professional and biblically based counseling and life skills classes, Henry said.
The women will also be linked to mentors in the community who can become positive role models and lasting supporters as they move out of the home later.
Not all the women who come to live at Merci's Refuge will be in crisis pregnancies, she said.
Some may be seeking healing after abortion or trying to get their lives on track after escaping an abusive relationship or in other crisis situations, she said.
She tells of one woman who came to the resource center who might have been helped by this residential program: The woman had been forced into prostitution by an abusive boyfriend, wasn't allowed to eat unless she earned enough money, and was pregnant.
"Her heart was just broken. She ended up coming here," Henry said.
Donations are coming in for Merci's Refuge, but more help is needed to reach the goal, she said. Money donations and donated help with the labor are both welcome, she said.
If you are interested in contributing:
By mail: Merci's Refuge, P.O. Box 1563, Champaign, Ill. 61824.
Drop off donation in person: Living Alternatives Pregnancy Resource Center, 205 Wilbur Ave., C.