Washington ministry raises $$$
for pregnancy center ultrasounds
By JOHN FORTMEYER
BEAVERTON — It operates quietly, but a shiny new piece of electronic gadgetry here communicates well why a Washington-based ministry is very likely to get busier and busier.
And also why a fun family-oriented event in the Tacoma area next month could ultimately help save thousands of lives.
The ultrasound machine at the Beaverton facility of First Image pregnancy resource centers is one of four provided to the agency’s four locations by Lakewood, Wash.-based 4US. Founded by Diego and Kim Wendt, 4US (“for ultrasound”) is an all-volunteer charity that equips pregnancy centers with what it calls “the life-saving power of ultrasound.” Locally, the machines also were delivered earlier this year to First Image locations in Gresham, Clackamas and Portland. Each machine costs between $25,000 and $30,000; 4US raises half the funds needed; the other half is secured from other supporting groups or interested donors.
According to 4US, 96 percent of women who see their developing babies in an ultrasound choose life, rather than abortion. Jackie Guiher, a Clark County, Wash., resident who serves as 4US outreach coordinator for southwest Washington and the Portland area, says each machine has the potential to save 1,000 lives.
It’s a technology with which Guiher, a mother of nine, is more than a little familiar.
“I’ve been through a lot of ultrasounds,” she quipped.
Ultrasound machines transmit high-frequency sound pulses into the body using a probe. The sound waves travel into the body and hit a boundary between tissues — such as between fluid and soft tissue, soft tissue and bone. In the case of pregnant women, the process produces on-screen images of the unborn baby in the womb.
Anka Radutiu, a registered nurse on the First Image staff, agrees that the ultrasound machines are an effecctive tool for pro-life pregnancy centers. She said the vivid images of developing life — which in part inspired the Portland pregnancy center chain to adopt the name First Image two years ago — are very convincing regarding God’s miraculous creation.
“I hear clients say all the time, ‘This makes it real.’ It connects all the dots,” said Radutiu.
Making it all the more impactful is that with the newest machines, the images are no longer confined to the small screen on the machine itself, but are also shown on a large separate monitor attached on an adjacent wall.
“They get the (baby’s) profile. It’s great,” said Guiher. “You can even see them sucking their thumb.”
For many clients who arrive at the pro-life centers for free pregnancy tests who are nevertheless leaning toward abortion, the images are clearly persuasive the other way.
“They say it changes everything,” said Radutiu.
She said the nurses on staff at First Image love the new machines, not only because of the large screens but because they operate more quickly and the process of transferring the images digitally to medical personnel is far less cumbersome.
R.J. Polivka, assistant to the director of the Beaverton center, said the ultrasounds are quite often an important first step in the caring, non-judgmental approach taken by the centers as they deal with the range of life circumstances clients bring.
“They can choose to come here where it is safe and where they are welcomed and loved,” said Polivka.
Guiher said the First Image centers in the Portland area are not the only ones in the Northwest to inquire about getting an ultrasound. Pregnancy center ministries in Grants Pass, Molalla, Prineville and Hood River are among those that have been in contact with 4US. While the ministry thus far has mainly served dozens of centers in the Northwest, a facility as far away as Ireland has received a machine.
To date, 4US has helped an average 10 to 12 centers each year get a machine, but the ministry’s goal is to provide at least 100 annually by 2022, said Guiher.
The goal of the Wendts when they founded 4US was to simply “do something” about abortion in a way that transcends politics, delivers tangible results, and celebrates life in a family-friendly way. Out of that desire came the long-range mission of placing an ultrasound machine in every pregnancy resource center that needs one.
The ministry’s work is made possible through its energetic fundraising efforts. Its first such event was a modestly successful bike ride in Tacoma in June 2005. In the years since, the event has expanded to include runs, walks, family fun festivals, concerts and a motorcycle rally.
In 2012, the ministry grew its efforts by starting a group of volunteers called “The 300” who underwrite, host, and execute the annual Rally Round 4 UltraSound;
Held at Fort Steilacoom Park in Lakewood, the event consists of five family-friendly activities, spanning two days with one mission — to illuminate hope for pregnant women by expanding the use of ultrasound.. Thousands attend over the two days to participate in one — or all — of the five different activities. One hundred percent of all event sales go toward ultrasound machines for pregnancy centers.
This year the event happens Friday and Saturday, Aug. 4 and 5. It includes 5K, 10K and half-marathon runs; a special nighttime “Glow Run”; what is billed as the “world’s largest splashball fight”; a motorcycle road rally, bicycle rides on routes ranging from 21 to 70 miles long; and a family festival including face painting, inflatable attractions, bounce houses, kid fun runs and more.
Details on the various activities, and the fees for participation, can be found at rally4us.org. For general information on 4US, go to www.4US.org