Monica Mendez and Jessica Chow both faced unplanned pregnancies at a young age. Each made a different choice.
“When I saw the pregnancy stick, I thought my life was over,” said Chow, who decided to have an abortion.
“I don't want to do this, I want to keep my child,” Mendez, who had her child, said.
Mendez and Chow are now connected by the organization that helped them both, Claris Health, a non-profit that is literally on the move.
Claris Health is an organization dedicated to helping women and families through unplanned pregnancies. Now, Claris Health has expanded its reach with a new mobile medical unit. At its heart are women who were once helped by the non-profit and are now paying it forward by helping others.
After more than four decades of patients going to their clinics, Claris Health built a mobile unit to go to them, to travel to areas of Southern California that are medically under served.
The mobile unit, nicknamed "Mama Clara," makes roughly 27 stops per month and offers free medical services, including pregnancy and STD testing, which remains at the heart of the Claris mission. That mission is to help women make informed choices about their pregnancies and their sexual health. Other services include health screenings, ultrasound imaging and medical and social service referrals.
“I realized I wanted to go through post-abortion healing,” Chow said.
Chow realized that she needed counseling and to talk to women who had been through the same experience. She connected with Talitha Phillips, now the CEO of Claris, who said that her goal is to offer people the same thing Phillips got when she was a client--people who cared.
“I knew for the first time I wasn't alone,” said Phillips. “What I had experienced didn't define who I was or what I would become.”
Mendez expressed the same feeling when she went to Claris for the first time, looking for parenting help with her new baby girl.
“To be able to sit with other women who find themselves in similar situations as I did,” Mendez said. “Until then, nobody had asked me, ‘How are you doing?’”
“There's no agenda,” Phillips said.
The three women want to support women in similar situations, just like Claris Health supported them.
“Maybe there are things that you don't realize from that has shaped you as an adult that needs healing,” Chow said.
“I want them to know that they've been heard--most importantly, that they're loved and that they matter,” Mendez voiced.
“The way Claris loved and treated me is how I wanted to love and treat others,” Phillips said.