The Campbell River chapter of Birthright will be shutting its door after 38 years of serving the community.
Since 1977, the organization has provided free, confidential pregnancy support services for women, girls and their families on the North Island.
The service was offered solely through the efforts of caring volunteers with the support of generous donations from members of more than 10 local churches.
The local chapter was granted status by Birthright International granted in November 1977 to then-director Reine Berns.
Berns, along with former director Barrie Calverly, was the heart and soul of the local organization.
Since Calverly’s passing in 2013 and Berns’ recent resignation from the board, as well as a lack of volunteers and a decrease in clients utilizing the services, the remaining members of the board and volunteers made the difficult decision to close the local office.
Birthright’s 24-hour emergency Helpline (1-800-550-4900) continues to be accessible to anyone dealing with an unplanned pregnancy.
Information is also always available on Birthright’s website and can be found at birthright.org.
The Victoria office (250-380-0322) is still available on Vancouver Island and there are also offices in Vancouver, Surrey and Penticton.
The Comox Pregnancy Care Centre offers similar services to Birthright and will continue on with Birthright’s Operation Baby Bottle Fundraiser.
Anyone who would like to donate to the Comox Pregnancy Care Centre can call 1-250-380-0322.
Local Birthright funds will be forwarded to Birthright International head office and be held in trust for two years in the event that a new chapter reopens locally. After such time, the funds will be dispersed to other B.C. chapters, as well as the Helpline.
Many women and their babies were able to access support locally throughout the years.
The remaining volunteers and board members wish to express their heartfelt thanks to those that have generously supported Birthright of Campbell River.
Birthright began in 1968 in Toronto. It started when Louise Summerhill, a busy housewife and mother of seven children, felt something should be done to help women facing unplanned pregnancies. The Toronto chapter quickly grew into Birthright International, the world’s first international crisis pregnancy service, according to Birthright’s website.
There are now chapters across Canada, the United States and Africa.
The organization’s services are always free, and confidential and are available to any woman, regardless of age, race, religion, marital status or financial situation.