Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Thoughts on Sidewalk Counseling

It was in the high 90s yesterday when we were out at the Planned Parenthood on the Northwest side & boy was it hot! The local Gabriel Project works with the Indianapolis Metro Police Department to follow local and state laws and to ensure they are aware we are there. Yesterday, there were two prayer warriors there, sitting back and praying in the shade, one standing a distance down the road holding a sign of Mary which asked for prayers to close PP (we prefer those protesting & using signs keep their distance as to not associate ourselves with them or create fear or intimidation for those who we approach), as well as two other experienced sidewalk counselors, who I observed & learned from. From the grass along the entrance of PP’s driveway, we offered friendly waves and smiles and asked to speak with them, as they pulled through in the driveway. Of about 15 cars, 3 stopped to talk with us & we handed them a brochure from the Gabriel Project (we don’t use graphic images and can only use brochures approved by the Gabriel Project director) and let them know there are alternatives and assistance and to call the Gabriel Project number (the Gabriel Project on call hotline person then connects them with the assistance needed in their community and a sponsor parishioner through their local church participating in the Gabriel Project.) It was heartbreaking because one woman I spoke with was an immigrant and had two children with her spouse who is working, but barely have food to feed their children. I offered her our assistance, but she was already determined and closed her mind to anything else, even as we offered assistance for her family. Although she had made up her mind, it was clear she was emotionally struggling with the decision (she choked up when she stated she had asked for God’s forgiveness and stated her husband convinced her it was necessary) but felt she had no other choice. How can I best address individuals in these types of situations to help them see there is hope?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I've Started Sidewalk Counseling

Just wanted to let you guys know that I’ve connected with the local Gabriel Project of the Great Lakes Region in Indianapolis and have started to sidewalk counsel in front Planned Parenthood twice a week. I've given this much thought and have considered this for some time. What is a "sidewalk counselor?" We are peer counselors there to offer hope, encouragement, and alternatives to abortion as well as help connect women with resources in their communities to meet their immediate needs (whether it's food, transportation, employment, or housing). The Gabriel Project's focus is non-political, but rather to help connect the women with socioeconomic resources to develop independence and self-sufficiency and a support system through her pregnancy and beyond. We do not engage in “street theater” or “harassing,” nor do we use graphic aides. We do not beg or plead, yell out condemning words, discuss adoption, make empty promises, try to change their minds on the morality of abortion, evangelize, or coerce/manipulate her into choosing life. We are simply there to let her know there alternative and resources/support if she so chooses.