This past week as I walked down the halls of Alternatives PCC, I began reflecting on the past two years and where God has taken us. We occupy a beautiful three-story building that is strategically located across from Planned Parenthood of South Central Michigan. We are located in Kalamazoo, a community with three colleges and a large number of middle school and high school students. The Planned Parenthood across the street from us performs approximately 1400 abortions annually.
Our building was established to offer additional health services and a regret-free choice to the young people in the greater Kalamazoo community. The main floor is very much like a doctors office equipped with a waiting room, several exam rooms, an ultrasound room, and several peer counseling rooms. As nice as the building is, I found we were not utilizing the facilities to its full potential. So I asked myself, with this beautiful building why did we not have a steady stream of clients? One should follow the other, right? Wrong!
|WE NEEDED TO KNOW OUR DESTINATION
BEFORE WE BEGAN TO TRAVEL TO IT.
As I met with the board and talked with my staff, I began to realize that our current direction did not match our new facilities. In other words, we had modern facilities with an antiquated approach in addressing our clients' needs. Our game plan was based on the model designed 28 years ago of simply waiting for young women to come in to get a free pregnancy test or a free ultrasound or free clothing, etc. Something had to change or we would remain underutilized and ineffective! But how could we accomplish this goal? We needed to know our destination before we began to travel to it.
As we considered our options, I posed the questions: What exactly do we want to accomplish in our community? What will have the biggest impact on the unplanned pregnancy rate, abortion rate, and overall lifestyles of the youth in our community?
With our end results in mind, we devised a vision statement highlighting an aggressive agenda that will take us into the future. Our agenda aims to continue our support of those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy while at the same time preemptively reaching out to our youth. By doing this, we hope to prevent as many unplanned pregnancies as possible.
We want to change how this generation views sex, and we want to equip them with the weapons they need to fight off the sexual temptations and peer pressure that they deal with on a daily basis. This type of thing cannot be accomplished through legislation; it needs to be internalized by each individual heart and mind. With this said, we opted to follow a vision statement called On His Course 2010. This vision includes:
Develop an STD clinic. This is necessary when you are just down the street from a university of over 25,000 students. What a powerful way to reach them!
Define who we are and what we stand for in the community. Far too often, we have a tendency to sit and assume people know what we're about. That just is not the case! Like any organization, it takes a steady stream of brand development before people will internalize your message. Remember, if you don't define who you are, your adversary will do it for you!
Develop an effective strategy to reach the youth in our community. A concerted effort to find the best areas to take our message is extremely useful. What school districts are more open to us and in what churches will we be the most effective?
Hire an Educational Outreach Director who will represent Alternatives to local middle schools, high schools, and youth groups. This is necessary! What better way to reach the youth than to go and teach them about the benefits of abstinence? This is just common sense information that is supported by any objective study ever conducted. The Educational Outreach Director can establish a relationship with the young adults so they will know we are here if they ever need our services in the future.
Expand our ultrasound services. This is a no-brainer! Lives have been saved as a direct result of our ultrasound. With this said, we want to expand the hours of use for our machine and possibly expand the locations where we use it.
Develop and strengthen relationships within the community. It is very important for us to reach out to "main street" America. Organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, Jaycees, the Rotary Club, etc., must be part of our effort as we continue to develop the trust needed for future growth.
Collaborate with various agencies within the community. As the services we provide grow, we are finding it easier to collaborate with other non-profit and state agencies to provide support and direction for their clients. Agencies and churches alike are asking us to provide education and support to parents in their sex education efforts.
Utilize modern media to spread the word. With Twitter, Facebook, Google, and YouTube, none of us have the excuse that advertising is too expensive. We decided that it is essential for us to use modern media, as this is the main form of communication for Generation Next.
Hire a full-time physician or Ob-Gyn on staff to provide as many services as Planned Parenthood offers.
Establish an aggressive marketing plan that will appeal to both our donors and our clients. You can have the best vision statement, the best outreach materials, the best ultrasound machine, and the best building; but your vision will never reach its full potential without an effective way to get your message out and energize your support base.
Re-Generation Next is Alternative's outreach effort targeting our current young generation in a way that will give them a reason to hold off on short-term pleasures in exchange for long-term fulfillment. It is a rallying cry for both parents and youth as we fight to capture their hearts and regenerate their souls for the glory of Christ. It is a new beginning and a closure to past actions.
Re-Generation Next encompasses everything we want to accomplish in our vision, and we pray that God will bless it as we move forward. We set the bar very high for our youth as God sets a high standard for all of us. We do not do this to discourage the parents or our kids, we do this because we know that our children can achieve higher standards and they will be blessed for it!
David Bos was Executive Director of Alternatives PCC, Kalamazoo, Michigan.