- Kelly Luttinen
Providing Love and Support to Mother and Child: MAUBC Helps Women in Crisis Pregnancies
Updated: Mar 27, 2019
Christina Marchetti cuddles her new baby, Veronica, who she gave birth to only a few months ago. “I love being a mom,” she said adding, “It’s great when you have support and stability.”
She knows not all pregnant women are blessed to have love and support during such a critical time. This is one reason Marchetti serves as Director of Client Services at Mother and Unborn Baby Care (MAUBC) in Southfield, Michigan.
“At a young age I volunteered at a pregnancy center with my mom,” she said. “And my grandmother was active in LifeSpan.” While attending Oakland University, Marchetti was part of the Students for Life group, an organization very supportive of crisis pregnancy centers like MAUBC, where she now works.
Over Three Decades of History
MAUBC is celebrating 35 years of service this year. Its mission statement: “Mother and Unborn Baby Care is dedicated to preventing abortions by helping mothers to continue their pregnancies through Christ-centered peer counseling, ultrasound and significant material support.”
MAUBC client services include free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, confidential peer counseling, and referrals for insurance and to other programs and services as needed. The center also has a colorful, spacious Baby Boutique through which they provide substantial material support to the mothers they serve for up to two years following the baby’s birth.
The organization was founded in 1984 by Mike and Peggy O’Dea. At the time, the couple was raising seven children, five of whom were adopted. One night the entire family experienced an event that would influence the direction of the rest of their lives. They witnessed a traffic accident on a rainy roadway. When they stopped, they found a pregnant woman lying in the road with no signs of life. Mike O’Dea began CPR, but was told by the police the woman was dead. Mike’s family encouraged him to continue nevertheless, and the woman eventually revived, and she and her baby survived.
Afterwards the O’Deas started helping homeless pregnant girls, taking them into their home. Eventually they would open a home for pregnant women to live at no change, and afterwards helped them become self-sufficient. At the same time, they founded Mother and Unborn Baby Care to help pregnant girls considering abortion.
Mike O’Dea will never forget the words of one of the first mothers the couple ever helped. She stopped by their home one Christmas Eve to show them her seven-month-old son. “If it wasn’t for you, my baby wouldn’t be alive,” she told them.
“It wasn’t us who saved that baby,” said Mike. “It was God who touched our lives in a special way and helped us to do what He wanted us to do – be instruments of His love.”
Volunteers Make a Difference
Today MAUBC, located just south of 10 Mile Road on Southfield Road, is staffed by volunteer peer counselors and a few paid staff members. Each day, the group begins with prayer. A small chapel is available onsite for prayer throughout the day.
Volunteer Louise Franz, one of the longest running volunteers at the center, has been with MAUBC for 26 years. Currently she provides administrative help and assists with fundraising events. “I can’t imagine there was ever a time I thought abortion was acceptable,” she said. “I believe if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. I am helping to work toward a solution – chipping away at whatever needs doing.”
Franz said she would never have become a volunteer at MAUBC had she not first been invited to participate.
“Two people I knew asked me to come and volunteer at MAUBC. Inviting people is important.”
Lynn Smith joined MAUBC after she heard a talk given by one of the center’s former Client Services directors, Michelle Yax Schmidt, who discussed her own experience being post abortive. “I was so moved by her message and her personal testimony, that it drew me to tears. I went to talk to her and said, ‘I want to be part of whatever you do.’”
Smith volunteered and later joined the MAUBC board. She said her Catholic faith has “grown and blossomed” since she joined the center. “I feel like I’m an evangelist for all aspects of my faith. I share it on a daily basis.”
Yvonne Howrylak has been peer counseling at MAUBC for nearly two years. She is a grandmother of one child with special needs, and she helps as a nanny for her three-year-old grandson.
“I wanted to do something in the pro-life movement, and this was a good place to start,” she said. “I wanted to actively work with women face-to-face, to be more hands on. I would say it is definitely worth a person’s time. Lives are saved here.”
Mary Clark is on staff as an MAUBC receptionist. “I answer the phones,” she said. “I am not really a phone person. But I found it is not me talking, really. I try to listen to the Holy Spirit.”.
She believes God intended her to be at MAUBC, and that a child she miscarried when she was age 32 plays a role at the center.
“I was very upset at the time, and I met a woman who does perinatal hospice, helping families who have a baby that is not expected to live long,” she said. That meeting led her to attend a healing seminar for women who had lost a child.
“That involved naming my child,” she said. She remembers clearly when she was praying one night how God told her the baby’s name. “I distinctly heard Him say Moriah,” she said. Later she would learn the name means “God is my teacher”.
“It was on Mount Moriah where Abraham was asked to sacrifice Isaac,” said Mary.
Post Abortion Help
Mary’s experience with a particular client at MAUBC led her to further understanding. The client had had several abortions and was “very hardened” Mary explained. “She didn’t want to listen to us. She wouldn’t look at the ultrasound screen.” After the woman left the center, Mary said she could not stop thinking about her. Mary prayed to God about what to say if she should talk to the woman again. “I had a vision of Moriah taking this baby’s hand and introducing him to Jesus. I think that is why God sent me here. I think Moriah does that for all the babies who come to us at MAUBC and then are aborted.”
Mary would later call the client, who she discovered sadly had chosen abortion. Mary told her about her vision, and she believes that gave the woman great comfort.
MAUBC volunteers make it a practice to bring to prayer in the chapel any babies who they believe have been aborted despite the counseling their mothers received at MAUBC. “We identify them by their chart number,” said Mary. “And we have a prayer service.”
Barbara Marie Lubinski, a member of the secular Franciscans, is a regular volunteer peer counselor who also does post abortive counseling (trained through Rachel’s Vineyard) inside and outside MAUBC. She has seen the psychological damage abortion can cause women. “To numb the pain, they frequently abuse drugs,” she said. “Drug abuse leads them to addiction and addiction to criminal activity to feed their habit, or worse.”
Shame is also a common reaction. “I remember one girl who came to us was so afraid, she was shaking,” said Barbara. “I told her, ‘You will find anything you want here, except condemnation and judgement.’”
Barbara explains the post abortive healing process, among other things, involves having a woman name her aborted child, and write a letter to the child asking for forgiveness. Barbara remembers one client who went through the process at MAUBC, and how all the staff participated with her in a prayer service in the chapel. “We taught her a special song to sing to her baby,” she said. “She received so much help and healing during her time with us, we learned she later felt called to bring an abortion healing ministry to her own church.”
Ultrasound Changes Hearts and Minds
One of the most important tools MAUBC uses to help women rethink their decision for abortion is the ultrasound machine.
“It really helps,” said Yvonne. “There they can see life and movement. Some are really surprised, especially the young ones.”
Marian Sioma serves as an ultrasound sonographer at MAUBC. She remembers learning the power of the technology years ago.
“I worked for a doctor who did abortions, but I didn’t know it at the time,” she said. “So I would show the girls their ultrasounds, and most would decide to keep their babies. The abortionist told me to stop showing them their ultrasounds. I told him he would need to hire someone else. The next week, I left.”
At the time, she was trying to conceive a baby herself, but was having difficulty. “I remember thinking, if anyone could see this (their baby on an ultrasound) they could never choose abortion.”
Supporting MAUBC’s Mission
Executive Director Nancy Peterson said donations are crucial to the mission of MAUBC, which receives no government funding.
“Through the community’s support and our dedicated client services team of staff and volunteers, last year, we were able to confirm that more than 100 babies and their mothers were spared from abortion,” she said.
She invites anyone who can to attend the organization’s Spring 2019 “Life in Bloom” Banquet fundraiser on Thursday, April 25, at St. Mary’s Cultural Center in Livonia. The event includes dinner, entertainment and a silent auction.
“We are pleased to feature at the event Irish tenor Mark Forrest, who has performed at Carnegie Hall and the Vatican,” said Nancy. “In addition to sharing his incredible talent with us, he will also share his testimony as the father of seven children, including one with special needs. Having been touched by the loss of a child, Mark is a strong advocate for families of babies born with chronic or fatal illness.”
Tickets for the evening are $75 in advance, or $80 at the door. To purchase tickets on or before April 15, go to www.maubc.org, or call 248-559-7576. A discount is available through March 30 for a sponsored table of 10.
To make a general donation to assist women in crisis pregnancies, visit www.maubc.org.