Community’s support shines

By Samantha Tucker Samantha@prairiepress.net
Posted 12/9/19

Choices Pregnancy and Health center had a serious problem. The nonprofit’s windows were falling to pieces and it did not have funds to spare for replacements.

Thankfully, the organization was …

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Community’s support shines

Posted

Choices Pregnancy and Health center had a serious problem. The nonprofit’s windows were falling to pieces and it did not have funds to spare for replacements.

Thankfully, the organization was not alone.

“The generosity of our community exceeds the neediness,” said Choices director Sue Sheeran, who has seen what communities in action can do. Thus, presenting the need for new windows to the community was exactly what Choices did. Soon churches and businesses across Illinois were rallying to donate money and time to get Choices’ windows replaced so it could keep serving the community. To God and all who helped, Sheeran is grateful.

“You can’t outdo God’s generosity,” she said. “So, when the need was presented to the community, doors just opened.”

Replacing the 16 decaying windows was no small feat. First estimated at $7,000, the cost later grew to $9,000. There was also concern removing the old windows would make the structure collapse. Nevertheless, both the Paris and extended Illinois community stepped up to the challenge.

Grace Lutheran Church of Paris showed initial interest in donating. Members raised $2,000 during a Trivia Night in February, and afterwards anonymous donations continued to arrive in the mailbox. Max Trotter, a Grace Lutheran member and retired Simonton truck driver, also put Sheeran in touch with Simonton Windows, and the local manufacturer agreed to donate the new windows.

Next, Sheeran applied for the Campaign for Justice and Hope Grant from the Archdiocese of Springfield, whom she had previously worked with for prayer blankets and a clothing ministry. She knew the archdiocese was devoted to addressing both physical and spiritual poverty just like Choices does, making them a good fit for aid.

In the application, Sheeran explained, “Paris’ Choices Pregnancy and Health stands at the crossroads where physical and spiritual poverty converge within the community…The significance of maintaining the physical structure of Choices ministry finds justification when the building, including windows, is viewed as the physical space for the embodiment or expression of grace.”

Sure enough, Choices won the grant.

Quality First Construction was the last piece of the puzzle. After estimating the costs at $7,000, additional inspection discovered damage to the structure around the windows would raise the price far beyond what was planned. Eric and Greg Morgan, who operate the company, decided to absorb a percentage of the unexpected costs for Choices.

“I just can’t say enough about them,” said Sheeran.

The entire process took almost a year to complete and complications were stressful. Sheeran is grateful to Pastor Rick Cook of Horace Baptist Church and his parishioners for the spiritual and emotional support they provided.

When applying for the Hope and Justice grant, Sheeran named the renovation “Windows of Grace.” It described God’s grace shining through Choices to benefit vulnerable people, the building becomes a physical space of peace and provision within the community. The name also described the process from another point of view, one of God using broken windows as a chance to show his own grace.

Choices Pregnancy & Health serves the Paris area by providing pregnancy tests, counseling, classes and supplies to mothers and mothers-to-be. Paris has a deep need in this area since 62 percent of the Paris 95 school district’s families are low-income or in poverty, and many of the center’s clients are additionally struggling with addiction or simply feeling lost. Thus, Choices’ mission is greater than providing materially – the organization is devoted to showing God’s love through individual relationships.

“Our door is always open to you,” Sheeran says.

Choices Pregnancy and Health is located at 210 N. High Street, Paris, and is are open from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Thursday. For more information about Choices’ services, call the office during business hours at 217-463-7800 or visit choices4pregnancy.com.