Guest Insights | 50 years – A Look Back: The Life Support Center

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By Rochelle Schlortt/SPECIAL TO THE HERALD

This article is reprinted from the Colorado Catholic Herald – July 6, 2018 edition.

The Life Support Center started as a standalone agency in 1976 as a pro-life, parish-level crisis pregnancy hotline for low-income women in response to Roe v. Wade.  Originally operated entirely by volunteers, it provided emergency services to pregnant women and families with young children, particularly low-income families.  Appropriate services were offered to encourage these families to continue with an unexpected pregnancy by providing supplemental support for high-cost items that might lead a cash-strapped family to consider abortion.

In 1999, after operating independently for 23 years, the Life Support Center (LSC) merged to become part of Catholic Community Services (CCS) – now Catholic Charities of Central Colorado.  Jerilynn Ciletti, the director of LSC at the time of the merger, said, “By merging with Catholic Community Services, I thought to strengthen their visibility in the community for Pro-Life activities and to preserve the Catholic identity of the Life Support Center…    Having a Catholic Identity visible in the larger community was important to me and to our donors.”

CCS had a Department of Children’s Services that included two main program areas:  Foster/Adoption and Pregnancy Counseling but was looking for ways to restructure to differentiate the two programs.  The LSC programs, combined with Pregnancy Counseling, gave CCS a clearly defined identity that could offer a comprehensive menu of services ranging from emergency provisions (diapers and formula) and prenatal support (pregnancy tests and counseling) to nutrition education (healthy eating, growth & development, breast & bottle feeding) and school supplies.  Together, LSC and CCS Pregnancy Counseling strengthened program areas and offered the community a full continuum of care from pregnancy through early parenting.

It was during this time that Carole McConnellogue joined the agency and began working with the LSC programs.  She was with the program for about 18 years, eventually becoming the director.  Under her leadership, the LSC and Pregnancy Counseling programs continued to grow and evolve.  They were originally housed in the old St. Francis Hospital, then moved to the Catholic Pastoral Center in March 2003.  When the Hanifen Center at Marian House was completed in June 2009, the Life Support Center moved onto the first floor and changed its name to Life Support Services.

New services such as Jungle Storytime, the early literacy book distribution, and Bright by Three were added, and it became the entry point for the Family Day Center pilot program.  Annual events which provided emotional support for families were developed, including an annual Mother’s Day recognition, a Summer Fling for children, and various health services such as KIND (Kids in Need of Dentistry).

In December 2017 it moved once again with most of Catholic Charities Family Services to the Helen Hunt Campus and became part of Catholic Charities Family Connections programming.  While families can access many of the original services, now as part of the larger Family Connections department, they can also access expanded services such as case management, life coaching, help to transition out of homelessness, a variety of educational programs for parents and children, and access to shower/bath and laundry facilities for families in case management services.

Note to reader:  Family Connections combined Life Support Services, The Family Day Center, and Family Mentor Alliance, and expanded services under one name, in one location, to better serve the community.  Family Connections Life Coaches refer clients to internal and external supports to more effectively and efficiently serve families who come to Catholic Charities in need.  

Rochelle Schlort is the Chief Communications Officer at Catholic Charities of Central Colorado.

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