Photos by Kelly Sue Photography
Cindy Sunday Powell, executive director of Pregnancy Assistance Center North (PACN), first volunteered at PACN’s original clinic on Interstate 45 in 1991. During her 25 years of service, she has helped this life-valuing organization grow and thrive. PACN now offers many free services at spacious, comfortable clinics in both Spring and Conroe. Soft-spoken and elegant, Cindy told Postcards about the joys of working at PACN and her plans for the future.
I’m from a little town called New Castle, Pennsylvania, 40 miles north of Pittsburgh. I moved here in 1978 because of the economy. It was booming. I went to school to become an accountant, but I realized I didn’t like being in an office all day. I was in marketing for 13 years with an international company. I started out as a volunteer at PACN in 1991; then I came on staff in 1995. Running an organization like PACN, I do everything from unplugging stopped-up toilets to fundraising and overseeing 130 volunteers. I believe God doesn’t call the qualified; he qualifies the called. I think that is how God shines.
Our goal is to educate our clients. When clients test positive for pregnancy, they have three choices: they can carry and parent, carry and place for adoption, or have an abortion. They have to make that decision for themselves. We are a Christian organization. We do not refer for abortion, but we are not going to traumatize them into making a decision. We believe that if we educate them one on one and perform an ultrasound, 85 percent of the abortion minded/abortion vulnerable will change their minds about having an abortion. To receive services, our clients need to participate in the Vouch for Success (VFS) educational program. VFS encompasses both spiritual and practical curricula. Our clients choose the programs that will help them reach the goals they set for themselves. Every time they do things to help improve their lives, they earn points. They can exchange points for items that they want, like cribs and strollers and ExerSaucers. They can also use points in our thrift store, It’s All Good. Everything is responsibility based. We are not a hand-out agency. For the clients who choose to carry, we stay with them until their baby’s first birthday, so we have about 22 months with them. They see people who genuinely care about them. We are not using them to further an agenda. We treat them with dignity and respect. They see that difference. They ask, “Why is everybody so nice to me? Why am I not judged?” They see the reflection of Christ.
We get the most clients from Google searches that send them to our client website, pacn.org. When they call for an appointment, and when they come in and say, “I saw you online, and I am looking for an abortion,” we tell them immediately that we do not perform or refer for abortions, but here’s what we can do for you. I only know of two who have ever walked out because of that. Most clients are scared. They are looking to see what help is out there for them. Even if they say, “I am going to have an abortion,” that is kind of a knee-jerk reaction to realizing they are pregnant. We have many services to offer them, and we know the rest is up to God.
Our typical client is 20 to 29 years old. Our youngest client was 11 and our oldest was 55. We will help anybody and our services are at no cost to our clients. We have so many services. In 2004, we started with ultrasounds. The abortion minded/abortion vulnerable clients usually want confirmation of their pregnancies so they can get abortions. Once they have met with a consultant and then have an ultrasound, 85 percent of them change their minds about having an abortion. We have about 7,000 client visits a year, and probably about 3,000 are new clients. The rest are coming back for programs. Lives are being saved and changed. A lot of times the babies’ lives are saved, and the parents’ hearts are changed. So many clients come back or write to us saying, “I am so glad for the decision I made.”
Sometimes the women would come in abortion minded, then change their minds—but their boyfriends were waiting in their cars and would say, “I am going to break up with you if you don’t get an abortion.” This is the love of her life. She will usually do what he wants. We thought, “How do we get the guys in to see the truth—to see the ultrasound?” So, we decided to have no-cost STD testing for both male and female clients. While the guys are here, we can ask them, “Would you like to go in with your girlfriend to see the ultrasound?” One was pushing for an abortion, but he came with her to the ultrasound. When he saw the picture of the baby, he ran into our waiting room. He was showing strangers that picture, saying, “This is my baby!” We also have post abortion support groups called CARE (Confidential Abortion Recovery and Education). How many people are still hurting from a decision made one, five or twenty years ago?
When I was counseling, a young girl came in. I am going to call her Mary. She had dark hair, dark garments, dark lipstick, and she had tattoos of upside down crosses and pentagrams. She never looked up; it was hard to get any information out of her. We found out she was pregnant. We also found out she was a Satan worshipper. I realized she was of the generation where they sacrifice babies, and I was really concerned for her. She didn’t want anything we had to give her. She was getting ready to leave, and I prayed, “What do I do?” I call them flare prayers. I am looking at you, but I am focused on God, waiting for him to give me words. I said, “You seem to be very artistic.” She lifted her eyes up. I said, “This is the Bible. I think you would really like Psalms. It’s like poetry. I think you would like Proverbs, too. It’s a lot like Chinese fortune cookies.” I think the Lord gave me those words. “If you would like to take this with you, we would like to give it to you as a gift.” She didn’t look up, but opened her purse and I put it in.
She came back about six months later. She was looking for me, but I didn’t recognize her. She looked like what we used to call a preppie kid. She said, “I want to tell you what happened after I left here.” She told her mom she was pregnant. The mom was fearful. Her brother had a cabin in Kentucky—very rustic, no TV, no radio, nothing. The mom had a bag packed and took her from here to there. Mary said when she got there, there was nothing to do, nothing to watch. She said, “All I had was that book you gave me. So I read it.” I asked her, “So you read Psalms and Proverbs?” She said, “I read the entire Bible. I loved Psalms and Proverbs . I loved the Old Testament, but I thought the New Testament was a little boring.” I said, “If you want to understand more, we have a young couple teaching a Bible study.” She went to the Bible study and loved it. She had her baby; I haven’t heard from her since. Why would a Satan worshipper come into a Christian organization? We believe every appointment is a divine appointment.
We are changing lives and changing lifestyle choices. We give all glory to God, and he uses us. We have 130 volunteers on a weekly basis. It’s amazing to see how God uses people from all different Christian denominations to come together with one goal—to help people where they are, to meet their needs and introduce them to Christ. I get calls from people who say, “Are you a pro-life organization?” We say we are “pro value” because we value every life. We are strong believers in the sanctity of human life. PACN is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. We accept no government funding; 52 congregations representing all Christian denominations support us. We have a website for people like volunteers and donors, pacncommunity.org. We refer people who want to know more about us to that website. Then we ask them to take a tour of our center, and we send them to ecfa.org (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability’s website). Where else do you get to work where you can see miracles almost every day and know that the organization you work for makes a positive difference in people’s lives?
It’s time for PACN to have a new head to see what vision God has for them. I already know my successor, Bonnie Thompson. She has been involved with PACN since 2001. I see great things for PACN and for me. I am excited because I will be spending more time with my grandkids. As far as volunteering, I love special needs kids. I love the elderly in nursing homes who don’t have families. My grandkids are going to be first, but I know I am going to be volunteering in one of those two areas. I just haven’t figured out which one yet.
Spring / Woodlands: (281) 367-1518
Conroe: (936) 441-6442