In the ethnically diverse city of Paterson, New Jersey, a brand new pregnancy center opened its doors Oct. 25.
Paterson has a rich history as the nation’s first planned industrial city, but today struggles with the challenges of high unemployment, drug use, and a child poverty rate of 41 percent—three times higher than the state average.
Twelve percent of pregnancies in Paterson are to teenage mothers.
In the midst of a city where being caught on the wrong street could be dangerous, the aptly named “Lighthouse Pregnancy Resource Center” is a light breaking through the darkness.
Founded in 1984 by a grandfather whose heart was moved as he came across ads for abortion clinics, Lighthouse was first established in the nearby borough of Allendale until moving to Hawthorne in 2005. An interim director was managing the center that year, when the board of directors approached Debbie Provencher, a local pastor’s wife with a background in communications and public relations, with the prospect of becoming the new director.
“I prayed for about five months and was going to say no,” Provencher said. “Then the interim director had to move, which put them in the position of possibly closing their doors.”
Feeling the call of God, she stepped up to the plate and took the role as Lighthouse’s director. Just three miles down the road from Hawthorne, Paterson was already on Provencher’s heart because of mission work she’d done there as a college student.