29-year-old nonprofit adopts new name, image to reach more clients

Tri-Cities Pregnancy Network is now called You Medical

The Tri-Cities Pregnancy Network decided to shed its name of 29 years and embrace a new one as it plans to expand its program offerings.

The pro-life, Christian-based agency known around the region for offering women free pregnancy testing and support became You Medical on July 1.

But the name change doesn’t mean the nonprofit’s mission has changed.

“Knowing we are expanding beyond pregnancy, we didn’t want a name that limited us. We wanted a name that reflected us in the community. We want to be a brand, especially for young people who are sexually active, so that they can come to us without being judged and to provide support and encouragement,” said Andrea Riggs, who has served as executive director for the Kennewick-based agency at 5040 W. Clearwater Ave. for three years.

The clinic also plans to expand its services beyond the Tri-Cities so it needed a more inclusive name, Riggs said.

You Medical plans to begin a capital campaign in the fall to raise up to $200,000 for a mobile medical unit. Riggs said the agency wants to use this traveling bus to offer ultrasounds to women in Connell and Walla Walla.

The clinic also wants to begin offering sexually-transmitted disease, or STD, testing to sexually active teens.

“Because we’re going to do STD testing, we know people from the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community may come in and as an organization that serves all faiths and lifestyles, we will serve them, but we believe sex is designed to be between a man and a woman in marriage,” Riggs said

The new name also is meant to focus on the clients.

“We feel this speaks to our clientele. After almost 30 years with same name, some are resistant to that change but they’re not the ones we’re trying to reach who are considering an abortion,” Riggs said.

The process to change the name was two years in the making.

Pregnancy centers across the nation used to showcase photos of distraught teens in their promotional materials, Riggs said, but now the information online and on social media is “fresh and hip. You can see they’re relatable pictures. (Our website) is now mobile friendly, too.”

The fundraising arm of the agency used to have its own separate website but it’s been folded into the main You Medical website and shares the same domain name, YouMedical.org.

“Our name appealed to pro-life Christians but didn’t appeal to the abortion-minded woman,” Riggs said.

More than half of the agency’s clients are women ages 15 to 24 and about 60 percent come from low-income households. There’s no financial requirement to seek help from You Medical.

On average, 95 clients a week are served at two centers. A second clinic is near Pasco High School at 817 N. 14th St.

It’s a service that’s needed as Benton and Franklin counties have higher teen birth rates than the state average, Riggs said.

The combined total number of births in Benton and Franklin counties among girls ages 15 to 19 was 271 in 2015.

Benton and Franklin counties’ birth rate was 28.9 per 1,000 girls ages 15 to 19 in 2015 compared to the state’s birth rate of 17.3 the same year.

“We are here to help those who are in truly in crisis and unsure of their choice. Our mission is not to be a social service or diaper service but a service to those considering abortion in a crisis moment. We help those in crisis,” Riggs said.

The educational component of You Medical seeks to address other issues young adults face, including homelessness, addiction and unhealthy relationships.

“Our clients are coming in for pregnancy tests but so many things are going on with them. When they realize they aren’t going to be judged, they’re willing to just share,” Riggs said.

You Medical recently began offering services for dads. The father program, which began in 2014, is growing and has evolved to include monthly dads’ night out.

“Most of the dads coming in have not had role models themselves. They don’t know what that looks like,” Riggs said.

You Medical staff and volunteers visit the Benton-Franklin Counties Juvenile Justice Center two to three times a month and Kennewick and Southridge high schools every semester to talk to young men and women about healthy views of self. These outreach programs started up about two years ago.

Riggs, 40, said the agency’s mission is important to her personally. She had her 23-year-old son when she was a senior in high school. Years later she had an abortion after another pregnancy.

She said she carried the guilt and shame around with her for years.

She signed up to take one of You Medical’s Bible study courses to come to terms with her guilt.

“After going through two of our studies and finding healing and freedom, I could forgive myself for making that choice,” she said.

It also helps her to better understand her clients, she said.

“I promise you someone here has gone through and was feeling exactly what you’re going through. … We don’t have to act like we have it all together. It’s very empowering,” Riggs said.

The clinic has 10 employees, ranging from part-timers working two days a week to four full-time staffers. Two nurses work part time, three nurses volunteer and two credentialed sonographers provide the ultrasounds.

About 70 volunteers help at the clinic. Pam Wise, 70, of Pasco, is one of them. She’s been volunteering with You Medical for more than a decade.

Pam Wise

Pam Wise

When she first heard about the pregnancy network, she said it “was like the clouds parted and the sun came out and God said, ‘This is what I have for you.’ And I said, ‘I’m on it.’”

Wise said she views her role as walking alongside clients through their mess, not fixing it.

“We do a pregnancy test, and it’s either positive or negative, so regardless of which it is, it’s my opportunity to speak with her about everything. I have that window. She has come to me. That gives me the freedom to say whatever is on my heart. I try very hard never to finish a counseling session without asking if I could pray for her,” Wise said.

Wise said all the volunteers “share a common way to relate to the clients on one level or another because of our own history” and this helps clients feel comfortable to talk freely.

“It’s one girl at a time. It’s one story at a time. Then it’s one prayer at a time,” she said.

Wise said she also tells clients who do choose abortion that they’ll be welcome back if they have “trouble getting past it.”

“I am so invested in this. It is my heart,” she said.

You Medical is considered a parachurch ministry, or an extension of the church, but it isn’t associated with any one church, Riggs said.

The agency is under the medical direction of Dr. Kelsey Shay, a surgeon at Lourdes Health. Dr. Adam Smith of Trios reads You Medical’s ultrasound scans.

Riggs oversees a $360,000 annual budget that comes from fundraisers, churches and donations.

You Medical is in the middle of its baby bottle campaign. Two thousand baby bottles were shared among 25 congregations around the Tri-Cities so church members could fill them with coins and cash. The goal is to raise $30,000.

The spring banquet, where the clinic’s new name was unveiled, raised $80,000, which exceeded what You Medical had planned, Riggs said. A fall Walk for Life fundraiser is planned the first weekend in October.

A six-member board oversees the agency and Karen Sinclair, who’s served on the board since 2010, said she’d like to double its size. The board is seeking new members who have a passion for the agency’s ministry.

“We are a governing board and are very engaged in supporting activities and fundraising for the center,” she said.

She said the board supports the rebranding efforts.

“We believe it’s going to broaden the amount of people we serve and services we give in an immense way,” Sinclair said. “I’m completely confident in the path we’re moving in and the direction God is directing us to go.”

You Medical will have a ribbon cutting to celebrate its name and brand change at 11:30 a.m. July 21 at the Kennewick clinic, 5040 W. Clearwater Ave.

Information: 509-491-1101 in Kennewick; 509-544-9329 in Pasco; youmedical.org.

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