The Forestville Pregnancy Center was founded in late 1983 by
Mrs. Marilyn Szewczyk of Baltimore, Rev. William Ryan, and Deacon John Sommerville. Mrs. Florence D. Smith was our first Executive Director from 1984 to 1998 and was instrumental in establishing many foundational policies for the Center. She was followed by Mrs. Chyllene McLaughlin, from 1999 to 2009, who had been associated with the Center since it's inception. Chyllene was followed by Mrs. Gloria Bouknight who was the Executive Director from April 2009 to December 2009 and then April Umstead from April 2011 to September 2011. During the interim of 2009 to 2012, the pregnancy center was run by three people: Jeanette Zak (Liaison to the Board), Gloria O'Neill (Director of Sonography) and Kenisha Binns (Case Management Director). Currently, Gwen Uyenco is the Executive Director.
The goal and purpose of the Center are to enable women to make educated and healthy decisions about their pregnancies and their sexuality, while preserving and nurturing the lives of their unborn babies. We promote abstinence and traditional family values. Since our doors opened in January 1984, over 23,000 persons have received help from the FPC. Most were women who were pregnant or who thought they might be. More than 20,000 have received direct services by coming into the Center and others were helped by phone through information and education. ALL FPC SERVICES ARE FREE.
The Forestville Pregnancy Center is non-profit (501(c)(3)), non-political and non-sectarian. The Center is an independent entity governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. There is no parent organization that underwrites our funding or our staffing. We solicit all of our income and monetary donations to the Center which are tax deductible. Our Center also has had several unique programs. We have conducted a practicum course for college students who are studying for degrees in psychology; and we have trained women who are studying to become pastoral ministers at their respective churches. For many years we have trained third year Archdiocese of Washington deaconate candidates and their wives in pregnancy center counseling and they, in turn, have donated 20 hours or more of volunteer service to the Forestville Pregnancy Center.
Since 2004, our services have been augmented by limited sonogram capability. This move to become a medical facility has enabled us to offer these sonograms, giving us a wider scope of women to serve. From 2003 to 2008, we also instituted free testing for sexually transmitted diseases, with a total focus on abstinence and chastity. In 2008, through an interesting set of circumstances, Chyllene McLaughlin, the former director of the Center, was contacted by a Christian businessman/philanthropist who offered her an office suite in a medical suites building located in Marlow Heights, Maryland. Being leased for a tenth of what the rent was at Penn Mar, the offer was too good to turn down! This became the satellite center for the Forestville Pregnancy Center. Little did Chyllene or the 25 volunteers and three staff members at the Center realize was that this was going to be the beginning of a new chapter in the pregnancy center's history. Due to volunteer staffing and operation times of daytime hours only, this site had been open to clients only two days a week. But that would soon change...
On May 7, 2009, life took a different turn for the Forestville Pregnancy Center. At 1:20 pm, 15 minutes after a 911 call was placed to the Fire Department by one of the pregnancy center's volunteers who smelled a gas leak, the Forestville Pregnancy Center was destroyed. Five other stores were also demolished in this horrific explosion. Six firemen and two Pepco workers sustained minor injuries but there were absolutely no fatalities. With an ongoing investigation of what caused the gas leak, several more gas leaks in stores near the explosion site, and continued efforts to rebuild, it would be 18 months to two years before the Forestville Pregnancy Center could set down roots again in the Penn Mar location. This was not an option.
Since 2009, the Forestville Pregnancy Center at Marlow Heights (the former satellite center) continues to help approximately 40 women a month with its free services. The pregnancy center at 3611 Branch Avenue, Suite 102, is open Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm. All are happy, thankful for life, and thriving in a new but cherished environment.
We have since added additional personnel to our staff--- an Office Manager, two more RDMSs (Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographers), who use our 3D/4D ultrasound machine purchased after the gas explosion (to replace the one which was rendered inoperable only six months after the explosion), enabling our Center to view first trimester pregnancies with greater precision and resolution.
Each year we serve approximately 400 clients who mostly come from Prince George's County but our doors are open to all women regardless of where they live. We see clients from Montgomery, Charles, Calvert, and Anne Arundel Counties as well as Northern Virginia and the District of Columbia. In keeping with our belief in abstinence, we have conducted programs promoting an abstinent lifestyle before marriage at several churches in the area as well as the community at large. Each year we serve approximately 500 clients who mostly come from Prince George's County but our doors are open to all women regardless of where they live. We see clients from Montgomery, Charles, Calvert, and Anne Arundel Counties as well as Northern Virginia and the District of Columbia. In keeping with our belief in abstinence, we have conducted programs promoting an abstinent lifestyle before marriage at several churches in the area as well as the community at large.
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