NRL News

“It’s all about relationships” – Louisiana center builds connections to help women and families

by | Sep 20, 2022

 By Gayle Irwin 

A Pregnancy Help Slidell client’s baby/Photo courtesy of Cindy Collins

Building relationships among clients and within the community assists pregnancy help centers to dispel myths and untruths and it creates connections that ultimately give women experiencing unplanned pregnancies the resources they need to courageously carry their pregnancies to term.

Pregnancy Help Slidell, a Louisiana pregnancy center, operates under that philosophy.

“What we’ve found is the best way is from the women that we’ve already served, that we’ve already helped,” said center director Cindy Collins. “They share their message out in the community, and when we do get a call requesting information on abortion, like other centers, we invite the woman in.” 

“We offer all of the help that’s available free of charge,” Collins said.

Connections within the community help the pregnant woman, therefore developing relationships with other entities is also critical, she said.

“We have a wonderful community that’s partnered with us over three decades now, so that we have many services in our community for women (served by the center),” said Collins.

Pregnancy Help Slidell Facebook

Connections and relationships include volunteer sonographers who provide ultrasounds for center clients and people who work at the Medicaid and WIC (a supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children) offices, she said. 

“We encourage them and pray for them and for those working in governmental offices because they are maybe in a different position there, but they’re part of our community,” Collins said.

Community relations for Collins and her staff go even farther.

“We’ve also partnered with a few of the local motels, those that have security,” she said. “They have a heart for what we do because again, we’ve been building relationship for a while.”

Women who need safety or women who are homeless can stay at these places, Collins said.

A ministry of meals helps solidify relationships with clients. The program is called Moms on Call.

“[Women] will bring a home cooked meal to the hotel and either take it to the front desk and the front desk will then call the client or they will take it to the room,” Collins said. “We’ve already screened the client to make sure it’s safe for any of the volunteers or our staff to go and they’ll take it to the room, but they don’t enter the room but will take it to the room and then they will pray with [the client] as they take the meal there.”

Showcasing pregnancy help work

A Slidell client with her baby/Cindy Collins

Earlier this past summer, she took part in a television interview to showcase the work of the pregnancy center. 

Many centers shy away from media coverage, especially because of the climate of increased danger and hostility from pro-abortion advocates, including, aside from the last several months of vandalism, violence and threats toward centers, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren smearing centers and calling for them to be shut down, and New York Governor Kathy Hochul recently signing a law allowing abortion activists to investigate pregnancy centers. 

But Collins believes that showing media outlets the work of pregnancy centers leads to greater understanding.

“We offer the free pregnancy center services and compliment it by building relationships with the women we serve, providing resources they need by building relationships with others in the community [that can help],” she said.

Although her center received threatening phone calls after Justice Alito’s draft of the preliminary decision in the Dobbs case was leaked May 2, no major protests or attacks to the building occurred. Collins credited significant prayer and a positive relationship with law enforcement.

“We first met with law enforcement, Collins said, “again building relationship with them – and they told us that they would increase patrols around our facility.” 

“Our landlord went ahead and increased security cameras around the facility,” she said. “And we prayed a lot. Thankfully, we never had any physical protests.”

Because of strong relationships with law enforcement, including the FBI, Collins and her team have assisted, and continue to help, women who have been sexually trafficked, as well as helping pregnant refugees.

“We’re seeing an influx of women coming from Central America and South America,” Collins said. “There are a couple of things where we’re continuing to encourage our community to open their hearts and churches and ministries and even homes to the women and the babies and the children.”

Many of the refugee women are pregnant and come to the center.

“We saw somebody that came from Venezuela, and she could not speak English,” Collins said. 

The woman had a translator, who shared specifics of the long trek she had made with her adolescent son. 

“We’re seeing more of that,” Collins said, “so we’re really encouraging our community as a place of refuge, that this is an opportunity for women and children inside and outside of the womb to see the goodness of Jesus and to be transformed into their true destiny in Christ.”

Hope and healing  

A baby shoes memorial at Slidell center, part of the
 abortion healing program/Cindy Collins

Discovering healing after abortion is also part of her center’s work, using a book written by Collins, who has experienced abortion in her past. “Redemptive Beauty” is a short book and journal to help women receive forgiveness and release shame “so that she’s able to see her identity of who Jesus really created her to be,” Collins said.  

“It’s even made for somebody who’s going through a lot of trauma,” she added.

Helping women to see their value and the value of their children, born and unborn is at the heart of Pregnancy Help Slidell. 

“We want her to know that not only does she have value, but Jesus says her child is a value also and deserves to live,” Collins said.

In addition to the Slidell pregnancy center, Collins began a program called Speak Hope, which ministers to women who have suffered trauma, whether after abortion or from a predatory relationship, abuse, or other situations.

“Speak Hope was started specifically to work with those that were at risk for sex trafficking in the area that we’re serving,” Collins said. “We do education with young women that come into our office, just letting them know that their lifestyle makes them at risk for predatory relationships.” 

Collins has done some education in the schools and with community groups and then offered to come alongside the FBI and other law enforcement to help them with those that they rescue who are pregnant.

Ministering to women in strip clubs and to trafficking survivors is part of Collins’ call as well.

“For about seven years I went downtown on Bourbon Street (in New Orleans) and ministered in the strip clubs down there, to pregnant women that were in the clubs,” Collins said. 

She would take toiletries and different things. What they do now at the center is a larger version of that, with some food items and toiletry items so that it at least helps a woman for about two or three days. 

“We always give water and water bottles and such, too,” said Collins. “That’s what we try and do, a full ministry not just what pregnancy centers are known for. We’ve all got to step up to the plate now.”

Finding hope and healing wherever a woman is in her life and following God’s leading encompass the heart of Collins’ work.

“I believe it was on the Lord’s heart for this community, a suburb of New Orleans, to build a place of refuge from the storm,” Collins said. “That was the vision the Lord gave us a long time ago, to really build this community outside of New Orleans as a place of refuge and a place of healing. It’s all about relationships.”

Editor’s note. This appeared at Pregnancy Help News and is reposted with permission.