Bill and Maribeth Hartung of Menomonie waited 11 years for God to bless them with a child. In 1985, their family expanded.
“We adopted a little girl,” says Bill. “She is now a doctor of physical therapy and we have three beautiful grandkids.”
Bill and Maribeth are very thankful their daughter’s birth mother chose life. Without her brave choice, they would not be blessed with the family they have today.
“I said when I retired, I was going to be very active with the pro-life movement,” Bill says.
He kept that promise nine years ago when he retired and got involved with Wisconsin Right to Life. Then in 2017, he and Maribeth were inspired to help in a newly created pregnancy resource center in Menomonie.
It’s important to be out there and visible. The Holy Spirit will give us the strength. -Bill
Fellow parishioners of St. Joseph Catholic Church, Georgia Stockman and Joyce Uhlir, did research and began an affiliation with Elevate Life out of Minnesota. “They did the difficult job of getting it off the ground,” says Maribeth. “I retired in 2016. These two women came to Bill’s Knights of Columbus meeting. I felt I was called to get involved and see what I could do to help. I started doing their bookkeeping. Bill got on the Board of Directors soon after. We’ve been kind of going from there.”
Options for Women-Menomonie is not a medical facility. They don’t do STD testing or offer ultrasounds. “We are there for education and support for the women who find themselves unexpectedly pregnant,” Maribeth says.
As a non-voting member of the board, Maribeth is the secretary and provides bookkeeping and communications for the organization. Bill is chairman of the board.
The facility runs primarily with volunteer support. The only paid position is for the executive director.
Maribeth knew Ronda Luna would be a perfect fit for Options for Women-Menomonie. “She started a pregnancy resource center in Red Wing, Minn.,” says Maribeth. “I finally convinced her to step up into the executive director position. She has been fantastic.”
Finding a location with only a small budget was a challenge, but God guided the group to a local Holiness Heritage Church of the Nazarene. They were able to utilize the space with rent of only $10 a month.
The nonprofit Options for Women-Menomonie is ecumenical and not affiliated with any particular religion. As the organization grew, it began running out of room and didn’t have the privacy the clientele needed.
One long-term goal was to save up money and move to a bigger building. Then an office building opened up in a perfect location–easy for clients to find with a discreet entrance to protect the privacy of women.
The Holy Spirit answered the organization’s prayers early, and the board trusted in God’s grace and made the move. Options for Women-Menomonie now has six rooms to work in. There are client counseling rooms and Earn While You Learn classrooms/boutiques.
For the past three years, Bill and Maribeth’s parish, St. Joseph, has supported Options for Women-Menomonie in many different ways. “The Knights of Columbus have been great to us,” Bill says. “The people of St. Joseph Parish are very generous. There has also been great support from other community churches.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic, the ministry to women hasn’t stopped, but the ways to fund the organization required adaptation. “The baby bottle campaign was our mainstay,” says Maribeth.
With churches shut down, that fundraising has been put on hold until the churches are able to welcome more worshipers.
Options for Women-Menomonie was planning its first fundraising banquet for April 2020, but had to move it to October because of the pandemic. In October, with dangers from the pandemic still affecting larger gatherings, the banquet was postponed again and is now scheduled for spring 2021.
Last year, the organization hosted a bake sale and Christmas sing-a-long to raise money. This year, that changed to a bake sale and an in-person or online silent auction.
Inspired by the movie “Unplanned,” Options for Women-Menomonie sponsored its second annual Pregnancy Loss Remembrance Walk this past fall. “We have access to an old mansion a friend of ours owns in town that has a big hedge,” Maribeth says. “We place flowers in the hedge and have a small prayer service there in memory of babies lost to abortion and miscarriage.”
“This year, we had beautiful weather,” Bill says.
The fundraising efforts are worth it when clients are able to get the support they need and can choose life for their unborn babies. Options for Women-Menomonie averages about 25 client visits every month.
“We have six babies now to God’s credit,” says Bill.
Young mothers and fathers learn what to expect with their babies through classes based on educational materials provided by Heritage House 76, Inc. Attending classes also earns parents the opportunity to shop in the baby boutique with the Earn While You Learn program.
Partnerships in the community provide volunteers to work 250-300 hours every month. Volunteers help with donations, client services, creating newsletters, cleaning and maintenance, and other work that keeps Options for Women-Menomonie up and running.
“We always have two people in the office,” Bill says. “Our executive director is our only paid salary right now. We are blessed with really good volunteers. We can’t thank them enough.”
The board is an important part of the operations of the organization. “We have seven members on our working board,” says Bill.
“We are always looking for qualified board members.”
“The one thing we really need right now is an accountant to serve as treasurer,” Maribeth says. “As we get larger and write for more grants, we need somebody to insure we are collecting the financial information correctly.”
“We hope to continue to grow,” says Bill. “We do have plans to become a limited medical facility in the next four years. We just have to get enough money to hire a technician.”
Funding for ultrasound machines is available through the Knights of Columbus and other organizations, however, technicians need a certain number of hours in the facility to keep their certification. The hope is to share the time and salary of an ultrasound technician with another facility.
The goal always is to live the mission statement for Options for Women-Menomonie in everything they do – “Empower Women and Families to Cultivate Life Affirming Choices and Healthy Relationships.”
“It’s important to be out there and visible,” Bill says. “The Holy Spirit will give us the strength.”
Options for Women is located at 544 Broadway St. S, #404, Menomonie, WI 54751. For more information on volunteering or making a donation, visit Options for Women online at optionsmenomonie.com, or call 715.222.0777.
Story by MARY KAY MCPARTLIN
Published January/February 2021 Catholic Life Issue