Sav-A-Life celebrates 25 years in Demopolis

All the statistics catalogue the clients helped, those who heard gospel messages and the women who decided whether to have an abortion.

But Brooke Luker, the new director for West Alabama Sav-A-Life, doesn’t rate success in facts and figures.

“Success to me is bringing God glory. It’s not measured in numbers. It’s looking at peoples’ hearts. It’s about the girls knowing Jesus and having a place where they feel loved, where they feel safe, where they feel accepted.”

pic - savalifeSav-A-Life celebrated 25 years of service to Demopolis on Sunday, May 31, with an anniversary event in the Demopolis Methodist Church Fellowship Hall at 2 p.m. Many area church members, previous and current directors, board members, volunteers and clients attended.

Luker has been on the job for almost two months. She is succeeding long-time director Barbara Sessions, who held the post for 10 years. Although Sessions’ last official day with Sav-A-Life also was May 31, she and her husband Tom want to stay involved in the ministry.

The local group offers all its services at no charge to clients. As an evangelistic, non-profit organization, Sav-A-Life is supported by donations from churches and individuals.

It started in a small office on Walnut Street, but the safety of the volunteers became a concern. When the search began for a new site, Fairhaven Baptist Church responded. The church has expanded its campus to include the buildings of Cardinal Square and offered offices to Sav-A-Life for a nominal fee.

Its bright, new location has plenty of space for counseling rooms, classroom, a comfortable common area and a closet with clothing for very young children.

While the main focus of the group’s service is support of crisis pregnancies, Sav-A-Life also provides a number of other programs to its clients in addition to pregnancy tests.

As an employee of the Marengo County Extension Service for 10 years, Gloria Duff conducts weekly classes for prospective parents. Her Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) sessions focus on healthy eating and food safety.

She started with the program just after Sessions took over as director. “It’s been a blessing” to work with her, said Duff.

Clients who visit Sav-A-Life come not only from Demopolis but throughout Marengo County and the eight counties contiguous to it. Many choose this office even though there may be a crisis pregnancy center in their home county, said Luker.

Sessions and CoCo Williams offer counseling, and Williams also conducts a parenting class.

Williams, who has been with Sav-A-Life for a year, came back because of the support and guidance she received when she had her own crisis pregnancy at the age of 17.

“It helped me out tremendously,” said Williams. “Since then I always knew I wanted to work in a pregnancy center and help out the way they helped me.”

Men and women Sav-A-Life volunteers take the SAFE program to three area schools. Sex And Family Education programs, coordinated by Sarah Byler, are presented to students at Demopolis Middle and Demopolis High schools and Marengo Academy, encouraging students to remain chaste until marriage.

“The first, most important thing we do is love the person who comes in the door,” said Sessions. “It makes no difference whether they’re single, whether they’re economically disadvantaged, makes no difference education-wise.”

Not everyone is in a crisis pregnancy situation, she stressed, nor does the staff coerce them into hearing the Gospel message. “But that’s our first step, that we want to share the good news that God loves us unconditionally.”

But, she added, in the 10 years she has been with Sav-A-Life she never has had anyone say they didn’t want to hear about it.

“I’ve had girls in my experience that have changed their minds from abortion to having their babies. Sadly we’ve had experiences through the years…they make the decision to abort. But they know they can always come back and that we love them.”

For those who need counseling after abortions, Sav-A-Life offers HOPE, Healing Of Post-abortion Effects.

“I’ve never had one girl to come back and say ‘I’m sorry you talked me into not having an abortion’,” but, Sessions continued, she’s had those come back who had the abortion and regretted the decision.

Looking to the future, Luker said she would like to implement childbirth classes for Sav-A-Life clients. Sessions said the long-held dream of a clearing house to offer guidance to services for people in crisis is needed now more than ever.

To expand their work, however, the staff needs more volunteers as well as funding. Luker said she will be contacting churches that at this time do not offer support to Sav-A-Life. Car owners also can purchase the Choose Life tag. Sponsored by the Christian Coalition, the local office received $41.25 from every tag purchased.

For more information on West Alabama Sav-A-Life, call 289-2273.