A long-anticipated project to convert a dilapidated building into a pro-life pregnancy resource center right next to Planned Parenthood in downtown Baltimore is getting new life after stalling for more than a year for lack of resources.
Carol Clews, executive director of the Center for Pregnancy Concerns (CPC), said an anonymous donor made a “very substantial” contribution that has allowed her nonprofit organization to resume renovations to the building.
Archbishop William E. Lori is expected to bless and dedicate the building as early as July 2020.
“The new pro-life pregnancy resource center coming to Howard Street will be a tremendous blessing and a beacon of hope to the entire city,” Archbishop Lori said. “It will provide much-needed support to women in need and their families.”
The center, which will become only the second pro-life pregnancy resource center in the city, will provide sonograms and counseling. It will also offer referrals for material assistance, job training, housing and more.
“We were really languishing because we were starting to run out of money,” said Clews, whose nondenominational, Christian organization operates four other pro-life pregnancy resources centers in the Baltimore metropolitan area. They include one at St. Ann in East Baltimore and another at St. Rita in Dundalk.
“We know the hand of the Lord is right in the middle of this and he’s guiding us and helping us along,” Clews said. “The donation we received is like we’ve gotten the final stamp of approval. We’re very encouraged.”
The CPC bought the building at 328 North Howard Street at auction Jan. 19, 2017, for $94,500. Money to make the purchase was donated by two anonymous benefactors, including the man who alerted the CPC about the building’s availability after noticing it was for sale when he was praying outside the Planned Parenthood where abortions are performed.
A capital campaign was launched to pay for renovations. The late Deacon Richard “Monti” Montalto, a CPC board member, wrote letters to all parishes in Maryland, in addition to Catholic and Christian groups, asking for support. Among the donations he secured was a $200,000 gift.
The former electronics and jewelry store requires extensive rehabilitation, which is ongoing. Clews noted that a new roof has been installed and the interior has been modified from three floors to two. The Center for Pregnancy Concerns plans to utilize only the first floor, she said.
The total cost of renovations will approach $1 million, Clews said.
With its location next to an abortion provider, Clews said, the pro-life center has an opportunity to get information about unborn babies and resources into the hands of abortion-minded women. The pro-life center, which does not refer for abortions, will likely have the same hours of operation as Planned Parenthood and may even be open longer, although Clews said that is all still in the planning stage.
“What we’re hoping is that the people who will come to North Howard Street intending to visit Planned Parenthood will see they can obtain a pregnancy test and counseling and a sonogram all free of charge right next door,” Clews said.
Clews said the CPC’s other locations and other pro-life outreach organizations have material assistance available for women in need.
“At our Howard Street location, we hope to have a very sophisticated referral service,” she said. “If a girl comes in and needs stuff for her 3-year-old, we will have a list of places that are near her she can go and we will make every effort to contact those people and let them know she is coming.”
Clews said she wants the new pregnancy center to be a support and source of encouragement to women in the city.
“I absolutely see the hand of God in this whole thing,” she said. “It’s all happening in God’s timing.”
Contributions may be mailed to the Center for Pregnancy Concerns, 442 Eastern Boulevard, Essex MD 21221. Make checks payable to the Center for Pregnancy Concerns and note “328” in the memo line.
Email George Matysek at gmatysek@CatholicReview.org