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July 2010
By: Michelle Roberts
"God is not so unjust as to overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do." Hebrews 6:10

Think about this scenario: you are the executive director of a pregnancy resource center and your board of directors has decided they might like to convert to a medical clinic. They have asked you to investigate this possibility and to report to them next month. Where do you begin?

If you are a member of CareNet or Heartbeat, you will probably start with a phone call or email to them. You may also contact NIFLA, your attorney, and anyone else involved in the legal aspect of PRC medical issues. You might call and/or visit other nearby centers that have already become medical.

I was that person referenced above back in 2003. The only difference is that I was a peer counselor with a B.S. in Nursing instead of an executive director. My executive director asked if I would consider leading our center through the conversion process of offering medical services to include limited obstetrical ultrasound. I contacted CareNet and NIFLA. I spent many hours on the phone and on the road talking to and visiting other centers that had gone before me. One evening, my husband looked at me and said, "Wouldn't it be neat if you could ask your questions to 100 centers at once and get responses back from them via email?" The thought of such a forum intrigued me, and PCCTalk was born.

PCCTalk is a peer-to-peer discussion group whose mission is to support pro-life PCC services and ministries whose counseling approach is anchored in biblical teachings. It is available to all who are involved in PCC work to include presidents/CEOs, directors, nurses, board members, volunteers, national affiliating organizations, and, to a limited extent, vendors. There is no cost to join, and the rewards can be priceless.

My husband, an Information Technology professional by occupation, felt that setting up a discussion list was a natural way for him to contribute to the faithful work of the PRC movement. The discussion group began slowly with a few hundred emails sent to executive directors across the country. Within three years, PCCTalk had more than 500 members. We learned many things as we went. We quickly found out that when as many as 500 people were responding to messages, our members became overwhelmed with the amount of email filling their inboxes. In 2007, a conversion to a more secure and less intrusive format required our members to re-subscribe, and we started over.

Today, PCCTalk has almost 700 subscribers. In less than three years, it has acquired 3100 messages posted on 871 topics in 13 different categories. These messages are archived and can be easily searched by topic or user. For example, if you are interested in having an individual as a banquet speaker, you can go to the "Fundraising" category and ask if anyone has had this person speak for their event and what they thought of him or her. Or, if you vaguely remember previously seeing a message about your prospective speaker and want to see what has already been said about them, you can search the archives and find all prior discussions about not only your tentative speaker but many others as well! On this forum, you can discover people who have used this speaker before and contact them for a personal reference.

You may wonder if comments placed on the PCCTalk forum are secure. Could outside groups be monitoring this forum to discover ways to discredit our efforts? In the early days of PCCTalk, we did not verify that every new subscriber was actually part of a pregnancy center program. It didn't take long to realize that outsiders could be monitoring our forum. Securing PCCTalk was another reason for the 2007 conversion.

When someone subscribes to PCCTalk, they do not gain immediate access to the message boards. They must wait until the list administrator has verified their direct involvement in the PRC movement and approves the account. In most cases, I will personally speak to the subscriber at the published phone number of a reputable PRC to verify 1) they did actually subscribe to PCCTalk, and 2) the email address with which they subscribed.

We are all aware that when information is posted on the Internet, it needs to be done with prudence and with the knowledge that nothing posted on the web is 100 percent secure. However, the security process used by PCCTalk allows our subscribers to be reasonably certain they can speak freely and without reservation, knowing that our members are screened and must login using their password before being able to read or post messages.

Another issue we encountered was with vendors who wanted to use the forum to advertise their products/programs. With our improved format, vendors now have their own category and are prohibited from making general advertising messages to the entire forum. Subscribers have the ability to go to the vendor section, ask for input, and obtain estimates for services and much more without being bombarded by unsolicited advertising

You may be thinking, "How can PCCTalk help me?" There are several benefits to being a subscriber to this discussion forum:

PCCTalk provides a network of other professionals just like you from which to gather and offer pertinent information related to daily tasks of PRCs.
Being a subscriber can save you time and money by having experienced people across the country available to help you at the click of a mouse. Why reinvent the wheel when others have gone this path before you? However, please be aware that while PCCTalk is not intended to be a full reference site for all your questions and needs, this forum can certainly assist in your information gathering efforts.
Many of us in the PRC world can experience loneliness. We often feel like we are the only one in this battle. The encouragement given through PCCTalk is phenomenal. As you probably already understand, being in our field of work can be physically and emotionally draining. Knowing that your fellow laborers are there to help, encourage, and pray for you is priceless. With economic issues disabling many ministries from attending large conferences, PCCTalk is a great backup for the networking that often results at those events.
PCCTalk also provides a place, when needed, to disseminate pertinent information to other centers quickly. In the past, there have been posts on many constitutional and legislative issues that affect or have the potential to affect PRCs. This allows centers across the country to be able to understand and prepare for similar legislation in their states.

Although my primary wish and original goal was for PCCTalk to be a blessing to others, it has been a phenomenal blessing to me as well. PCCTalk subscribers are like members of an extended family. We pray together, rejoice together, cry together, and share a wealth of information simply to encourage and lift up one another. Here are a few comments from our subscribers:

"I am so grateful for this avenue. I pick up on great ideas, have found valuable information that has saved me much time, and it is encouraging to hear how God is working in other clinics around the country."
"For clinics like ours that are in rural settings and not having quite enough help from time to time, I can always logon to this site and read something that is beneficial."
"As a relatively new staff member of a center, PCCTalk has been invaluable in shortening my learning curve on so many things I need to know!"
"I love having PCCTalk as a resource in my daily work. Thank you for connecting the dots of all the pregnancy centers nationwide."
Please consider joining our growing list of subscribers today! Simply visit begin the subscription process. May God bless you and your work abundantly!

Michelle Roberts is the former nurse manager for the Hope Pregnancy Center in Clarksville, Tennessee. She is now a full-time homemaker and mother of three children. She enjoys running, baking, and doing volunteer work at her children's school.

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