Laurie Coffee, left, and Kathy Draxler, parishioners of Holy Child Parish, organize baby items inside the baby boutique at the Heart of Tioga Pregnancy & Parenting Support center in Mansfield.

MANSFIELD – Since opening its doors in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, Heart of Tioga has already served more than 100 women seeking help with ultrasounds.

“We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the community,” Sharon Quimby, Executive Director, Heart of Tioga, said. “All of our donations, everything, all of our support is from the community so we couldn’t exist.”

Parishioners of Holy Child Parish in Mansfield quickly embraced the mission of Heart of Tioga. The Pregnancy and Parenting support center specializes in helping women deal with pregnancy-related issues by providing alternatives to abortion.

Several people involved in the parish’s Health Ministry Committee volunteer at Heart of Tioga. They organize the facility’s “baby boutique” which provides clothing, diapers and other essentials to mothers in need.

“It’s just a beautiful way for women to be supported,” Laurie Coffee, a Holy Child parishioner, explained.

Holy Child Parish uses funding from the Diocesan Annual Appeal to support its parish Health Ministry Committee – which includes many of its pro-life activities.

“To help a mom get through this piece is a gift to us, and a gift to them and a gift to these children because we want these children. We want them to have the babies,” Coffee added. “We want them to have the support they need to not feel like they’re alone once they have the babies.”

Heart of Tioga offers free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds to expectant mothers along with a variety of classes on pregnancy, labor and delivery and parenting skills.

Quimby says the impact of the funding from the Diocesan Annual Appeal and the assistance of volunteers from Holy Child Parish has been invaluable.

“It’s a huge blessing. There is so much that needs to be kept up,” Quimby explained.

Holy Child Parish recently held a baby bottle drive to support Heart of Tioga that raised more than $750. The parish also held a virtual baby shower for the facility in which parishioners were able to donate baby clothes.

“It’s nice to contribute something of yourself. I like to do things behind the scenes so I don’t mind taking baby items, sorting and washing,” parishioner Kathy Draxler of Sullivan Township said.

In addition to supporting Heart of Tioga, Holy Child Parish uses its funding from the Diocesan Annual Appeal to support several other programs that support its parish community, including the local food pantry and a medical equipment loan program.

“The monies that we received from the Social Justice Grant have allowed us to purchase, in this past year, two oversized wheelchairs. In the past, we’ve made purchases of a knee-scooter, attachments of feet for wheelchairs and a lot more,” Dotty Welsh, Holy Child parishioner and medical equipment coordinator said.

In a small shed located in the back of the parish parking lot, the parish’s health ministry committee stores numerous wheelchairs, walkers, canes and crutches that can be loaned out to people in the community when the need arises.

“This ministry would not be functioning as it does if it weren’t for the Social Justice Grant. We don’t have any fundraisers,” Welsh explained.

People in the community have benefited greatly from the medical equipment loan program.

“It is a wonderful program,” Linda Brown of Mansfield said. “In 2006, I had a hip replaced so I borrowed a cane, walker and raised toilet seat. In 2011, I had a knee replaced so I borrowed the same thing. In 2019, I had another knee done so I have used this many times!”

Anyone needing the medical equipment simply needs to sign the items out and can keep whatever they borrow as long as they need it.

“We had a call from a young woman in Wellsboro whose husband had terminal cancer and she wanted him to be able to come home but she needed a hospital bed, so we took and transported one and set it up in their house for them,” Welsh said.