The Pregnancy Help Center in Torrance recently celebrated its 30th annual Walk for Life South Bay, to raise funds for its various programs and services — all intended to literally help save lives.
The official icon of the Pregnancy Help Center is a starfish, a reminder to staff and volunteers about the value of life. Norma Grove, marketing and communications director, told Angelus News the inspiration behind the starfish: a story about a little girl who picked up starfish that had washed up on shore. She safely put each one back in the water. An old man noticed the girl and asked her, “How can your effort make any difference?” Pointing to the starfish in her hand, the girl replied, “To this one, it does!”
The Pregnancy Help Center made all the difference in the life of 21-year-old Andrew Cabrera-Mora. His mother, Ingrid Cabrera-Mora, went to the Pregnancy Help Center when she was just 16 years old after seeing an advertisement for the center at the mall. Ingrid and her then-boyfriend, Gabriel, were scared and unsure what to do.
“I took a pregnancy test and I was given some counseling. I needed an adult to tell me the truth. They welcomed me and made me feel not alone,” recalled Ingrid, who is a parishioner at St. Catherine Laboure Church in Torrance.
The Pregnancy Help Center referred Ingrid for medical services, and a few months later Andrew was born. Ingrid lived with her mother following Andrew’s birth so that she could return to school. A few years later, Ingrid and Gabriel married, and have since had two more children — Mychal, 15, and 1-year-old Juliet.
“Andrew turned my life around in many ways. I was down a bad path. He gave me purpose,” explained Ingrid.
Andrew, who attends El Camino College, told Angelus News that he would not be here today if it weren’t for the Pregnancy Help Center.
“My mom thought about aborting me. The center taught her that every life has a value. It made me pro-life as well. It made me value life,” said Andrew.
More than 200 people celebrated life as they participated in the 30th annual Walk for Life on May 20, which commenced at Veterans Park in Redondo Beach. The participants, who came from Catholic and Christian churches around the South Bay, walked a leisurely 5K along the boardwalk to Torrance Beach and back.
Supporters of the Pregnancy Help Center participated in the walk to celebrate the pro-life movement.
“For me it is being with people who are like-minded. We couldn’t do it without their support or passion for life,” said Adrienne Gross, executive director of the Pregnancy Help Center.
The walk was dedicated to longtime volunteer and board member, Denny Dunham, who recently passed away.
Dunham’s daughter, Logan, who attended the walk in her mother’s honor, told Angelus News that years ago her mother had an abortion and regretted it deeply.
“The Pregnancy Help Center was very close to her heart. She volunteered on the crisis helpline. She was never judgmental. Many lives were touched by her,” said Logan.
Jeannine Lochtenberg, who has taken part in the Walk for Life South Bay since the early 1990s, is a deeply committed volunteer and passionate about the pro-life movement.
“I’m the eighth of nine children and have attended the March for Life in Washington, D.C., every year since Roe vs. Wade in 1973,” she said.
Lochtenberg, who has five children and a master’s degree in counseling, wanted to “pay it forward” for all of the blessings she had received in her life.
“I began working one to two days per month on Saturdays as a volunteer counselor at the Pregnancy Help Center. I was also a crisis pregnancy hotline counselor,” she said.
Now that her children are mostly grown, with the exception of her 14-year-old son, she serves as vice-chair on the board of directors for the center. She is also active at American Martyrs Church in Manhattan Beach, where she and her husband teach Natural Family Planning and belong to the Respect Life Ministry.
“My husband and I run a business together, but we still support the center in any way we can. There are very few charities that are as effective and necessary as PHC. Our goal is to make [it] the preferred alternative to Planned Parenthood,” explained Lochtenberg.
The Pregnancy Help Center began as a crisis pregnancy hotline in 1971. It was founded by women who wanted to help other women experiencing the challenge of a crisis pregnancy. In 1976, it opened its doors as a crisis pregnancy counseling center. The Pregnancy Help Center is currently the only licensed medical clinic in the South Bay offering breastfeeding and prenatal nutrition education, testing for sexually transmitted diseases and limited ultrasound services.