We have raised over 44% of the necessary funds to open our new “Holy Empress Helen” Pregnancy Crisis Help Center. We have initiated the new project after we registered a 50% increase in new cases during the pandemic period.
Please find below a short activity report of “St Alexandra the Empress” Counseling Center and an explanation on why we need to extend our activity through a new help center.
Summary of our activity during the COVID-19 pandemic
The sanitary restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic determined “St Alexandra the Empress” Counseling Center to move its activity online between March 8 and May 29, 2020.
This is how we spent our 81 isolation days:
offered 550 free counseling hours to women in pregnancy crisis;
offered material support in value of over 4,700 Euros (23,000 RON) to women in pregnancy crisis;
initiated an online support group for women in pregnancy crisis;
organized an online breastfeeding training;
organized 4 webinars offered by a medical doctor and a psychologist to support pregnant women and families during the isolation period.
What was the effect of our support?
95% of women assisted by “St Alexandra the Empress” Counseling Center CHOSE LIFE for their unborn children.
ONE OF OUR TRUE STORIES: “Without your help, I would have aborted my baby. I could not see any other option”
Here’s a true life story from the pandemic, a story which brought us great joy.
At the beginning of May, Ana and Bogdan (names have been changed for privacy protection) found out that Ana was pregnant with their second baby. The news about this unexpected pregnancy came days after Bogdan had lost his job in the pandemic crisis. The scant savings they had were rapidly dwindling and future looked so uncertain. They thought their only solution was to abort their baby. Going through lots of emotional ups and downs, Ana hit a Google search for information about pregnancy and found our center.
Just as everything seemed to collapse in their life, she decided to call and ask for help.
A counselor told her what we tell everybody who asks for our help: “Ana, you are not alone. We stand by you. We shall help you”.
The first discussion lasted one hour. Ana felt she could be stronger than her overwhelming fear and that she could fight for her baby’s life.
Afterwards, our center dispatched a consistent non-perishable food package to Ana and Bogdan, which was essential for them.
Just after the state of emergency was concluded, Bogdan found a good job and the situation of the family stabilized. We have recently met Ana, who told us with tears in her eyes: “Our child lives thanks to you. Without your help, I would have aborted my baby. I could not see any other option. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!”
Help requests currently exceed the capacity of our center
This true and beautiful story was not singular in this period. In fact, help requests from women in pregnancy crisis and parents in difficult situations currently exceed the capacity of our center to take new cases!
One explanation is that the pandemic has aggravated social problems. Another is that “St Alexandra the Empress” Center offers long-term support during pregnancy and after the birth, not for cases in need of short-term support.
Moreover, our accreditation requirements permit us to serve a limited number of beneficiaries.
Counseling sessions offered by our psychologist and our social worker take up 7 hours a day for 5 days a week. This means that we can help a maximum number of 70 people every month.
Yet, our center currently has 100 active cases, to which it provides free psychological counseling and material help over a period of many months. This means we already work at almost 143% capacity.
Normally, we would have hired another psychologist, but our official credentials include a specific distribution of the headquarters area. Therefore, our authorization does not allow additional space for one more psychological counseling cabinet.
The solution: A new help center
We have examined our options in dealing with the increasing number of help requests and found the only solution: The Association for pregnant women and family support (which has opened “St Alexandra the Empress” Helpcenter) needs to open a new help center as soon as possible.
Therefore, we have intensively been working for a month to prepare the opening of this new center:
identified easily reachable headquarters that meet accreditation requirements, which specify the following mandatory areas: waiting room, counseling cabinet, the social worker’s cabinet, human resources office, meeting room, toilet for beneficiaries, staff toilet;
started drafting work procedures and the staff organization chart;
started a fundraiser for the new center;
prepared part of the necessary documentation to obtain accreditation; the documents shall be filed with the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection as soon as we sign the lease contract for the headquarters (June 16);
chose a name for the new help center: “Holy Empress Helen”;
launched the online fundraising campaign “Renew Hope for Both of Them” on June 1st, to finance the opening of the new “Holy Empress Helen” Help Center; the campaign ends on July 1st, 2020.
Why the name of “Holy Empress Helen”?
St Helen’s life is impressing and sets an example. She experienced different social backgrounds, she went through ups and downs and had a decisive contribution to the education and formation of her son, the Holy Emperor Constantine, who marked Europe’s and world’s history.
In addition to his political and religious dimensions, St Helen’s son, St Constantine the Great, also known as the Holy Emperor Constantine, is well known for his charitable deeds in support of people in difficulty, especially in support of women and children, and for creating a more equitable society.
In all his social work, he was directly supported by his mother. Moreover, St Constantine entrusted St Helen, his mother, with the mission of charity work.
The new center is designed to offer quick-impact counseling to women in pregnancy crisis
The “Holy Empress Helen” Help Center will be complementary to the “St Alexandra the Empress” help center, serving especially beneficiaries who need short-term support. Every year, 1,500 women in pregnancy crisis will be able to enjoy giving birth to their babies.
Types of support for women in pregnancy crisis offered by The “Holy Empress Helen” Help Center:
initial information session over the phone (30 minutes);
counseling session to help the woman overcome her pregnancy crisis, held at the center’s headquarters;
information session on support options;
information session on risk behaviors and adoption of a healthy lifestyle;
coaching session to help the woman in pregnancy crisis find solutions to her problems, to become economically independent and other;
3 information sessions on birth, breastfeeding and baby care;
five weeks’ participation in the support group for women in pregnancy crisis;
psychological therapy for situations of depression, abuse and/or trauma;
baby box and care kit for the first three months after birth.
The staff chart of the “Holy Empress Helen” is as following:
a) social worker
will make the mandatory social work documents legally required to offer help (needs assessment and intervention plan);
will offer information sessions on support options provided by the center and by other local community actors;
will offer information sessions on risk behaviors;
will coordinate the support group for women in pregnancy crisis.
will offer free psychological help to women in pregnancy crisis who ask for the center’s support;
will offer free psychotherapy to women who have overcome their pregnancy crisis, but are affected by depression, abuse, violence and other traumas;
will organize and coordinate the staff activity; will make activity reports;
will make sure that the beneficiaries receive all the support provided in the intervention plan;
will ensure that procedures and working guides are closely followed;
will manage communication and promotion of the center within the local community;
will manage the relationship with local social work authorities;
will take help requests received via phone calls;
will schedule the beneficiaries’ visits to the center and will provide the initial information session;
will meet women in pregnancy crisis who come to the center;
will draft the documents necessary for the center’s activity.
Please find below the monthly spending of the “Holy Empress Helen” Help Center necessary in order to offer free professional help to its beneficiaries:
5,700 RON, including utilities
5,128 RON before taxes (3,000 RON net)
4,273 RON before taxes (2,500 RON net)
Part-time psychotherapist (16 hours/week)
2,100 RON before taxes (1,275 RON net)
Permanent employee of the association
3,409 RON before taxes (2,000 RON net)
Security guard, video monitoring
TOTAL monthly spending
For a woman in pregnancy crisis, support is “now or never”, so we march on!
When we decided to set up the new “Holy Empress Helen” Help Center, we were aware that the pandemic had created an economic crisis which affected lots of people. And that this crisis might be an obstacle in financing the new center, which functions exclusively on donations, since all services offered to beneficiaries are free.
We chose to go on for a powerful and clear reason: if an unborn child loses its life now because its mother does not get support in her pregnancy crisis, it cannot ever be replaced by anyone else.
Our success in collecting funds and some of the center’s assets without an intensively publicized campaign gives us hope that a public campaign shall help us even more in setting up the “Holy Empress Helen” Help Center.
The target of the “Renew Hope for Both of Them” campaign is to collect the 20,700 Euros (100,000 RON) necessary to inaugurate and operate the “Holy Empress Helen” Help Center until October 31st, 2020.
There is one more reason for establishing a new center and one more argument that our aim is feasible with God’s help. In the United States there are approximately 2,800 help centers which offer support for women in pregnancy crisis, which is one center for every 115,000 Americans. Their services are totally free for the beneficiaries. They finance themselves by sponsorships – only recently have some American states allotted public funds for this type of social support. Romania has only 13 such centers, which means one for every 1.5 million Romanians! We do not think Romanians care 13 times less than Americans for women in pregnancy crisis. We actually believe that in future, with the support of those who love good deeds, Romania will have more such help centers!
Calendar of activities for opening the “Holy Empress Helen”Help Center:
June 1-15, 2020
fundraising for the center’s operational needs;
signing lease contract for the headquarters and paying the rent for the first month;
hiring a social worker (the CV and work contract are among the documents filed at the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection in order to get the functioning license);
working on the 30 operational documents required to meet mandatory standards in social work (registries, forms, procedures).
June 15-30, 2020
fundraising for the center’s operational needs;
renovation of the headquarters;
interior design and refurnishing of the headquarters;
filing for authorizations from the Department for Emergency Situations and the Public Health Department;
filing documents for the functioning license at the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection;
drafting the intervention guides;
preparing staff training sessions.
August 1-15, 2020
hiring the counselor, the psychologist and the receptionist;
promoting the center within the community;
getting all the necessary approvals and the functioning license;
preparation for opening.
Sunday, August 16, 2020: Official opening for the “Holy Empress Helen” Center of Counseling and Information for women in pregnancy crisis!
Renew Hope for Both of Them!
5 ways to support us:
set a regular monthly donation of 10 RON/3€/3$ towards the bank account numbers noted below;
donate your birthday for the opening of the new center on the platform Galantom (for technical details please contact firstname.lastname@example.org);
redirect 3.5% of your income tax under Romanian law to Asociația pentru sprijinirea femeii însărcinate și a familiei (“The Association for pregnant women and family support”), by filling in Form 230 and sending it to NAFA until June 30, 2020.
Card donation through the Mobilpay app, by clicking on this link;