The Capitol Hill Crisis Pregnancy Center serves a great need: It helps women, men and families in the nation’s capital.
“Our first goal is to serve the Lord by reaching out to help people,” Janet Durig, the executive director at the pregnancy center, told LifeZette. “I used to say ‘women in crisis pregnancies,’ but it’s really girls, women, boys and men. We actually have single dads who come for material resources.”
Upon entering an old creme-and-green-colored building in northeast Washington, D.C., expectant mothers and others climb a set of stairs to a waiting area — which is filled with donated children’s shoes and books for parents to take back home.
Located less than a mile from the U.S. Capitol Building, the faith-based center stays out of politics and instead strives to provide resources to help women make informed decisions about their pregnancy.
“The most important thing we do spiritually is offer to pray with [clients],” Durig said. “When they come to the door, many times they’re very nervous, especially if they’ve come for a pregnancy test. At that point, they don’t want to hear [anyone] preach. They’re here because they have a need.”
“As Jesus would do, we meet them where they are,” she said.
Durig and the other staff and volunteers always offer to pray with the clients. For example, if a client is there to get a pregnancy test, she might ask to pray with the woman at the end of the session.
“I would say to her as a counselor: ‘Before we part company, is it OK to pray together?’ She’ll say yes or no. I’ve only been turned down once in 15 years,” said Durig — who was worked at the center for the last 15 years of the center’s 33 years in business.
The staff informs clients that the center is a Christian, faith-based organization. The services offered include free pregnancy tests, childbirth classes, counseling and mentoring, parenting classes, and more.
“I think it’s more multifaceted help than the average person realizes when she looks up and sees the sign on the building,” Durig said. “We’re really here for these girls and these women of all ages.”
The center serves over 2,000 clients a year.
“A large percentage of clients, once they come here, do choose life for their child,” Durig said. But that’s not always the case. The center also offers a counseling and Bible study class for post-abortion trauma healing.
Donors and small grants completely fund the operation. “There’s a lot of partnering in work like this,” she said.
Durig is currently the only full-time staff member employed by the center. A parenting program director is joining full-time in September, and there are five other part-time positions.
Of clients at the center, she said bluntly, “It’s not surprising for a girl aged 15 or 16 to tell you she’s had six abortions already. That is a form of birth control to them.”
Teenagers do not need parental consent to get abortions in Washington, D.C.
“Often a young woman will come in here convinced she can’t keep her baby. There’s often no one for her to talk to about that,” Durig said. “The role of the counselor is to ask her pointed questions that help her see for herself.”
The group also offers a teen parenting program in a lot of D.C. high schools.
The center steps in for support at all stages of the parenting process: from giving mothers new clothes for their babies to wear home from the hospital, to providing parenting classes to equip the new moms and dads with skills to successfully raise their children. Individuals can also come in once a month to pick up free diapers and gently used clothes for their children.
In addition, the center is on a list of places used as referral resources by judges in Washington, D.C. “Some judges in the city — when a person, male or female, goes before the court with a first offense of child abuse or child neglect — offer that person 30 days in jail or 10 hours of parenting training,” Durig also told LifeZette.
The Capitol Hill Crisis Pregnancy Center looks forward to the day it can offer ultrasound technology to clients, so that women can see images of their baby and hear their child’s heartbeat.
In September, the center will open a satellite office in the southeast part of Washington, D.C, on Alabama Avenue.