Perception is everything and seeing the possibilities before they manifest is the job of leadership and a community that embraced a need that is now being fulfilled as if the answer always existed. In reality, The Unexpected Pregnancy Center is only celebrating its first anniversary — and 16 babies owe their lives to the gifts and generosity of the Teche Area friends and family that support the prenatal and parent care available to families when pregnancy is unexpected. Sharing their experience as clients of the center were a new teenage mom and a mother expecting her second child.

Asha’ High, tell us about the precious baby in your arms?

This is Steven and he is two months old. He was a surprise. His dad, Steven Charles, is in his life, too. He helps takes care of us. I need to start bringing him here, but I thought it was just ladies. He goes to Westgate and I’m at Senior High. Mom knew about the Unexpected Pregnancy Center, but didn’t really know much about it to come here. One of my teachers told me of a place near the courthouse where we could get help.

Mom, what did you think when your daughter told you she was pregnant?

I was definitely surprised, and hurt. I had told her what she needed to know to prevent pregnancy, but they’re young and hormones, nature just took over. She plays basketball, runs track, she power lifts — she’s going somewhere in life. She’s going back to school and is definitely going to graduate and definitely going to college. It was just surprising. When I found out, I’m an educational mom and didn’t want her to quit school and was thinking abortion. But then I thought, no she’s not going to do that. We’re going to take care of it. We got together with the dad and his mom and dad and we’re going to do it together.

What has UPC done for you?

They provided me with things we needed. They were kind and sweet. I was four or five months along when I came here, I had already planned to keep my baby. (Thomson) gave me advice like about school, to keep on going. It was really helpful.

THOMSON— her mom has always been super supportive, but on the other side there was some disbelief until he was born. Asha’ was at our dentistry workshop. Dr. Henagan was here with assistants and talked about teeth and how he would be cutting teeth, all that kind of stuff.

What do you want to say to others about the Unexpected Pregnancy Center?

ASHA’ — They should come out because this center is really helpful and supportive. They’ll be here with you and through it. They did an ultrasound, but I also had an OB-GYN.

GRANDMOTHER — They’ve been so supportive. As a single mom I haven’t always had money for things but to pay bills. They provide things she needs to help care for the baby, diapers, clothes, the classes have been helpful. We ask questions and they give us answers right off the top.

THOMSON — Asha’ has been such a joy. She has a warmth. She came in smiling and had a good head on her shoulders. We have some mothers that pick up things like walkers or cribs, carriers and after they get through, they bring them back so other mothers can use them, too.

What happens from this point forward?

Asha’ is always welcome to come here, to come chat with us about any questions she might have. Last night we gave her some diapers and little dental things in the class about dentistry.

Who else is here today to celebrate UPC’s first anniversary?

THOMSON — Lorraine Willis is our client and she is expecting a girl, Londyn, to be born around Aug. 9. She is here with her 2-year-old Paydric and her supportive cousin Gloricika Johnson.

How did you find out about UPC?

My cousin saw it when they put the sign up. She had to drive all the way to Lafayette to the same type clinic for her babies.

Did you have any concerns when you found out you were pregnant?

My biggest concern was how I was going to support the baby. I’m barely making it with Paydric. His dad lives out of state. My mom is here but my dad passed away when I was 5 years old.

What is the biggest help they’ve given to you?

The biggest help was clothes for the baby and helping with diapers. Some days I haven’t had money to buy any. When I found out something bad from the doctor, I was able to call Brittany. I got through it, but if I have a question or concern, I can come and she’ll look things up.

Brittany, what has this first year been like at UPC?

Here are the some stats from this last year — 75 clients were seen, 25 percent were crisis pregnancies; there were 215 visits to the center from these clients, 73 ultrasounds were performed and 16 babies were born, three initially were thought to be aborted.

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