Rachel Nguyen has been the executive director of CareNet-RI since June but she is hardly new to the agency’s mission of offering alternatives to abortion for women faced with an unplanned pregnancy.
“Women really do need to know all their options,” Nguyen said in a recent interview. CareNet-RI is a faith based non-profit non-denominational Christian ministry pregnancy resource center that has been in existence for more than 20 years. CareNet is based in Cranston, but Nguyen is in the process of seeking to bring it closer to the population it serves most. She is looking for offices in South Providence that would be easily accessible to a bus line.
Nguyen, who is responsible for leading the operational and strategic efforts of CareNet-RI and oversees six staff and more than 50 trained volunteers, taught childbirth classes for many years. She gave up her private practice to volunteer at CareNet and when the administrative position opened she saw an opportunity to marry her administrative skills with her love of helping people.
Nguyen’s resume includes customer service management roles at AT&T and Bank of Boston. She also helped create Providence Machine and Tool Works with her husband, and continues with the company as vice president and treasurer. In addition, she is a certified childbirth educator. She has volunteered at CareNet-RI for the last eight years.
Although CareNet is a Christian organization, it offers help to people of all beliefs. Last year the agency assisted about 300 people, both men and women. The need isn’t abating.
"We are absolutely committed to helping any man or woman that walks through the door," said Nguyen.
She explains that men are urged to be a part of the process of preparing for the birth of their child.
“They grow into the role as fathers, they really step up,” she said.
CareNet has limited medical support, but it does offer education and support for women with unplanned pregnancies. The free services include pregnancy testing, limited first trimester ultrasound, peer counseling, education, post-abortion counseling, material resources and a 24-hour helpline. In addition, the center offers free classes in prenatal care, childbirth and breast-feeding.
They also have two volunteer Doulas, support persons who will go through labor with a woman. CareNet is able to offer these services free-of-charge. Churches, private donations and fundraising events provide funding. An invitational banquet is planned for Nov. 12. Nguyen said that some churches include CareNet as a line item in their budgets.
Teen pregnancy is a problem and Rhode Island ranks 15th in the United States for teenage pregnancies. According to 2001-2005 Teen Pregnancy and Parenting in Rhode Island Issue Brief put out by Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, Cranston had 274 teen births for every 1,000 teenagers ages 15 to 19 over the four year study period. During the same period, 256 Warwick teens gave birth.
"Abstinence is the safest, healthiest choice," said Nguyen. "One in four teens will have an STD or STI."
The mission of the center is to ensure that everyone that comes to them gets the support and health care they need by offering referral assistance to women who need help finding obstetricians.
CareNet also refers women who are considering adoption as an alternative.
"It's fairly rare that a woman will choose to give up her baby for adoption." Nguyen said. "More women often choose abortion over adoption. Adoption is not like it was in the sixties – it is more open. The biological mother can pick the family."
Nguyen wants women who are dealing with an unplanned pregnancy to know that there is always hope.
"Our view is that there is never a case that is hopeless. If she feels hopeless, we will have hope for her."
Anyone interested in attending the fundraising banquet can call 941-2051 for an invitation. There is no charge for the event, but a donation is requested.
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