Stories of survival, hope and future grace Hope Pregnancy Care Center’s annual banquet

Keynote speaker Melissa Ohden adresses the guests. St. George, Utah, April 9, 2016, |Photo by Rhonda Tommer, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — “Hope and a Future” was the theme of a banquet at the Dixie Center St. George Saturday night held to raise funds for Hope Pregnancy Care Center, a nonprofit organization in St. George committed to helping women and men facing crisis or unplanned pregnancies.

The banquet was attended by 400 guests and led by Master of Ceremonies Jay Schroeder, former NFL quarterback, Super Bowl champion and St. George resident. After a silent auction, guests learned about the center and its progress.

Hope Pregnancy Care Centers past and present directors (l-r) Jessica Blevins, Tracie Tice, Shannon Gerber, Tami Campbell, Merry Jo Cook. St. George, Utah, April 9, 2016, | Photo by Rhonda Tommer, St. George News.
Hope Pregnancy Care Center’s past and present directors. L-R: Jessica Blevins, Tracie Tice, Shannon Gerber, Tami Campbell, Merry Jo Cook. St. George, Utah, April 9, 2016, | Photo by Rhonda Tommer, St. George News.

Tami Campbell, director of Hope shared how the center and its staff have successfully met client needs and said the center is only $8,000 away from paying off the mortgage for its facility at 391 E. 500 South.

Each guest received a bookmark with the first name of one of over 300 babies whose moms and dads have been helped by the work of those who volunteer at Hope.

Amy Fox, the center’s abstinence education coordinator, shared the ongoing success of  Hope’s abstinence education program, “Why Not!”

“Since the program started it has grown to be in nine high schools in Washington County and one high school in Iron County,” Fox said, adding that over the last year they have expanded their curriculum to include seventh graders, which is now being presented at Vista Charter School.

Hope and future

The theme of Hope’s fundraising banquet came from Jeremiah 29:11:

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’

Keynote speaker Melissa Ohden gave testimony to such a hope and future sharing her personal story that began in 1977 with the most basic survival: surviving a saline-infused abortion.

Five days after her mother’s uterus had been infused with a saline solution, premature labor was induced. Although her birth mother expected to deliver a dead baby, she didn’t.

The saline should have burnt her skin and lungs, Ohden said, but it didn’t.

Though she survived the saline bath, Ohden was not expected to live for very long, but she did.

“When I was delivered I weighed a little less than 3 pounds,” Ohden said.

She initially suffered from severe respiratory and liver problems as well as seizures.

Once doctors realized she was going to survive, she said, they expected her to have lifelong major medical, emotional and physical problems … but again, she didn’t.

“I received a clean bill of health by the time I was 5,” Ohden said, attributing her recovery to a miracle.

Today, Ohden said, she lives a normal healthy life.

She spent years searching for her biological family, Ohden said, to offer them forgiveness for their decision to end her life.

As the story of the beginning of her life started to unfold, Ohden said she learned that her birth mother was forced by her own mother to have the abortion against her will. She also learned her birth mother and birth father were told she had not survived.

Ohden said she has reached out to everyone involved in her abortion experience, including her maternal grandmother who reportedly orchestrated it.

“I want my takeaway message tonight to be how important the work of Hope Pregnancy Care Center is,” Ohden said. “There are decisions about abortion being made every day. There are children like me whose lives are being ended every day and I truly believe that Hope is the front line. They are providing true choices and true support.”

Banquet guest Jason Williamson poses with former NFL quarteback Jay Schroeder while showing off Schroeder's Super Bowl ring. St. George, Utah, April 9, 2016 | photo by Rhonda Tommer, St. George News
Banquet guest Jason Williamson poses with former NFL quarteback Jay Schroeder while showing off Schroeder’s Super Bowl ring. St. George, Utah, April 9, 2016 | photo by Rhonda Tommer, St. George News

Auction and fundraising

Over 80 items were offered in the silent auction.

One of the most sought-after items was a “Jay Schroeder Fan Package” which included a picture taken with him, a chance to wear his Super Bowl ring, a signed football and a binder containing trading cards and photos of Schroeder in action on the gridiron.

Schroeder was the starting quarterback for the Redskins and made the Pro Bowl in 1986 and won a Super Bowl in 1988. He finished his career with the Los Angeles Raiders for 5 years and 1 year each with the Cincinnati Bengals and Arizona Cardinals.

Schroeder and his wife Debbie are avid supporters of Hope and have been instrumental in helping to open a crisis pregnancy care center in Poway, California.

The evening ended with the opportunity for guests to help in furthering the work of Hope through donations.

Hope Pregnancy Care Center

Services Hope offers include the following:


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  • Rainbow Dash April 10, 2016 at 10:34 pm

    Services Hope offers include the following:

    Free Pregnancy Tests.
    Complete Information on Options.
    Abortion Education.
    Adoption Information.
    Earn While You Learn Parenting Program for Women.
    Fatherhood 101 Parenting Program for Men.
    Community Referrals.
    Abstinence Education and Presentations.
    Post-Abortion Counseling and Education.
    Individual Mentoring Program.

    Hmmm.. Hey you know what’s funny? I see a referral for “Abstinence [Only] Education and Presentations”, adoption education and parenting classes but I don’t see a referral for what to do if you decide to have sex but minimize your chance of pregnancy and STI’s.

    One has to wonder, given the authors religious preference, if Hope offers such services or the author simply left those out.

    now let me give some facts:

    According to the Dept of Health and Human Services Utah was ranked #42 (of 51) in 2011 for teen Pregnancy rates. That said, in June of last year , ABC4Utah reported that while the pregnancy rate was down STD rates were “skyrocketing”.

    “1,271 15-17 year olds gave birth in utah in 2000. 13 years later, just 573 teens”.

    Kudos to Utah.

    In that same report they stated this;

    “The age group of 15-25 year olds saw a dramatic spike in STDs”.

    Pregnancies are down, STD’s are up. What does that tell you? Abstinence Only education DOES NOT WORK AS INTENDED! How do we know? If Abstinence only education worked as intended the STD rate would have gone down too! My point is this. I fully understand and acknowledge that Abstincence is the only way to 100% guarantee that you won’t get pregnant. That said, there will always be those who want to have sex but not get pregnant.

    Author, Nurse and Midwife Jennifer Worth aid this about Abortion:

    In 1967 the Abortion Act was passed, and abortion was no longer illegal. When I was a gynaecology ward sister at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson hospital in London, I was sometimes asked whether or not I approved of it. My reply was that I did not regard it as a moral issue, but as a medical issue. A minority of women will always want an abortion. Therefore, it must be done properly.

    I do not regard contraceptive use as moral issue, but as a medical issue. A certain number of people will always want to have sex. Therefore we must give those people knowledge about how to do it as safely as possible. Is teaching kids safer sex practices 100% effective? Of course not. But it’s better than the “just don’t have sex until marriage” educational model used by “Abstinence Only”

    • Joyce Kuzmanic April 11, 2016 at 6:30 am

      Rainbow, this report is about the center’s banquet; it is not a thorough review of what Hope Pregnancy Care Center offers or comparisons to other organizations that may overlap or offer different services.
      Please feel free to follow the links to the organization’s website for more information on its particular offerings. While we have done reports on this and other organizations in the past, that was not the purpose of this one.
      I hope that helps,

      • Rainbow Dash April 11, 2016 at 10:14 am


        Thanks for your reply. I realize that my response was slightly off the topic of the article but it was necessary. Hope Pregnancy Care Center “…is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to helping women and men in Southern Utah who are facing crisis or unplanned pregnancies”.

        Frankly, I love that. Abortion is not the only option and I like that they educate people about other options such as adoption.

        “Hope Pregnancy Care Center does not provide or refer for abortion or contraceptives”.

        Why not? In my opinion they should, at the very least, educate people about contraceptives other than Abstinence. In my opinion educating people about safer sex practices is fundamental to reducing unplanned pregnancies in the first place. People who are sexually active are less likely to have an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy or contract an STD if they are educated about contraceptives. Lets be real, Adoption is a great thing but there are too many kids in the Foster Care system.

  • Common Sense April 11, 2016 at 6:53 am

    Good job Hope pregnancy center! What a relief knowing there is a safe understanding caring place to turn to instead of just blindly aborting.

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