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CITY OF ISHPEMING: New Care Clinic seeks new clients

The Care Clinic of Ishpeming, located at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, is pictured. The new location offers free pregnancy tests, educational classes and is seeking new clients for in-person mentoring. (Journal photo by Lisa Bowers)

By JACKIE JAHFETSON

Journal Staff Writer

ISHPEMING — The new Care Clinic in Ishpeming is now accepting new clients and offers a variety of services — from pregnancy, postpartum care to educational classes on parenting — that helps prepare parents become better parents.

The new branch, located at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, began offering in-person individual mentoring last week after services were restricted since mid-March due to the pandemic. Before the COVID-19 shutdown, the Care Clinic was just beginning to make progress with its new office located in the West End but then, services were halted for a few months, Care Clinic Client Services Director and volunteer Wendy Pelto said.

In the fall, Pelto was conducting group classes in Ishpeming but the need to establish something more was crucial for those soon-to-parents experiencing unplanned pregnancy, Pelto said. So with a new location, Pelto hopes clientele will take off.

“A lot of our clients have difficulty with transportation and that’s community-wide for all sorts of appointments. For them to make the trip here or to Sawyer, it’s gas money and cars aren’t working so by being out in Ishpeming, we feel that we can serve more people that can maybe walk and take public transportation out there to get to their appointments,” Pelto said, adding, “And by offering our online classes or over-the-phone classes, a whole new group of people can be served that can’t make it in for whatever reason.”

The Care Clinic of Ishpeming offers free pregnancy tests and Earn While You Learn Program, which are lessons that prepare and educate parents on a wide range of topics such as pregnancy, childbirth, infancy, milestones and discipline. The program includes pregnancy and parenting videos that clients watch online — at home or wherever on the phone — or meet with a mentor virtually or in-person to watch the videos and discuss what’s going on, Pelto said. This allows for parents to connect with their mentor and after each lesson, they fill out a worksheet and go over topics they didn’t understand. After parents complete the lessons, they earn “baby bucks” that can be used to purchase diapers, wipes, baby clothes and other essential baby items, she said.

At each Care Clinic location, clients have the ability to utilize the Family Resource Closet and all of the baby items are donated, Pelto continued. The Care Clinic also offers postpartum healing, pregnancy loss/miscarriage care and ultrasound testing at its Marquette office.

The Care Clinic anticipates to begin STD/STI testing in a couple of weeks at the Marquette office, and that testing will be free, Pelto noted. Once that takes off the ground, the clinic hopes to expand that service to its Ishpeming and Sawyer offices.

The Care Clinic started back in the 1970s by a group of women who wanted to help out other women with unplanned pregnancies because most didn’t know who to turn to in that time and age, she said, adding that the services expanded over time to not only serve the needs of mothers, but fathers and the entire family as well.

“Our goal is to really educate the families, not just moms, dads can be clients (too),” Pelto said. “… A lot of people aren’t aware of what the Care Clinic does and they think we do different things. And we’re here to help other places in the community and it’s just to form that relationship to help them be a better parent and we think by educating and helping make better parents, we’re going to have better kids in the future and a better community.”

The Ishpeming location has 10 clients so far but Pelto expects that to grow with the reopening of businesses and services.

All of the services the Care Clinic provides are free and confidential. Pelto added that it’s a way for parents to feel more comfortable and have more support with the life change they are about to go through.

“First of all, it’s good emotional support. It’s good support in terms of things you might need for your baby. We have the diapers and wipes, of course, and clothing but we have special gifts when they have a baby. … And those things are nice but I think the relationships that they form with the mentor is priceless and that, in this busy world, we don’t have people that want to listen to us because everyone is so busy,” she said. “And you have a solid hour to talk to your mentor; if you feel like you just can’t learn anything that day and you need to download, you have that time with her/him and it’s just a slowdown from the day from everything going on and someone who truly cares and wants to help you.”

To schedule an appointment at the Ishpeming office or for more information, call 906-228-2273. The 24/7 hotline is 800-712-HELP.

Jackie Jahfetson can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is jjahfetson@miningjournal.net.

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