By Lou Baldwin
Special to The CS&T
COATESVILLE – Now there are six. That’s the number of Birthright chapters within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia dedicated to assisting women with unplanned pregnancies. The latest location, at 529 E. Lincoln Highway, Coatesville, which was formally dedicated and blessed on May 2, joins the two existing chapters in Philadelphia and others in Bala Cynwyd, Pottstown and West Chester.
The new chapter, with co-directors Celeste DiJohnson and Beth Giangiulio, both of St. Elizabeth Parish in Upper Uwchlan, was an idea conceived about three years ago by DiJohnson. She has been a Birthright volunteer for seven years at the West Chester chapter, which is about 12 miles away.
“I thought there might be women in the Coatesville area who were distressed because of an unplanned pregnancy and in need,” she said.
Her own sympathy for women in that situation comes from a very personal experience. “My mother had a similar situation when she was pregnant with me,” she said, “and I’m here, praise the Lord.”
She’d first heard about Birthright through a flyer and was taken by their motto, “It is the right of every pregnant woman to give birth and the right of every child to be born.”
Giangiulio became a volunteer last year through DiJohnson, whom she met at the parish Respect Life Committee meetings.
“I joined Birthright because I think it’s a tragedy that so many babies are destroyed through abortion in our country every year. Unfortunately, our government is moving further away from a pro-life position,” she said. “I wanted to do something to help save those babies and save young women from going through that pain.”
The need for the Coatesville location has already been demonstrated through approximately 10 young women who came to the facility in the first weeks. At this point, the hours of operation are Tuesday 6 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. These will expand as more volunteers are trained to staff the facility.
Birthright is an international organization founded in Toronto, Canada, by Louise Summerhill in 1968. At this point it has about 450 chapters, many of them in the United States, and they assist approximately 30,000 women each month.
Services provided include free pregnancy testing, completely confidential help, non-judgmental and caring advice, and referrals for legal, medical and educational assistance. Prenatal information, maternity and baby clothes, housing referrals, social agency referrals and information about community services and adoption care are also available.
For more information concerning Birthright Coatesville, call 610-436-0773. For Birthright chapters elsewhere, call the Birthright International 24-hour North American hotline at 1-800-550-4900.
Lou Baldwin is a member of St. Leo Parish and a freelance writer.