Last month, the Women's Care Center celebrated 30 years of service to the Rhea County community. For 30 years, we have been offering hope to the hopeless, loved those who feel unloved, and provided much needed material assistance for women and families.

During our annual fundraising banquet, we had the joy of hearing from Kristen Gallant, Miss McMinnville 2015.  A high school senior with dreams of being in broadcast journalism, Kristen's message was incredibly in tune with the message of the Edge. Choices matter.

To understand Kristen's story, you must first know the story of the beginning of her life.  When her young, unwed mother found herself pregnant, the only solution seemed to be abortion. Yet, during that appointment for such a life changing procedure, her mother left, unable to follow through with the procedure.  Instead, she made an adoption plan, and Kristen has been thriving ever since.

This article isn't about abortion.  Instead, it is about choices, and how those choices affect others.  But, for just a minute, let's look at what we would be missing had certain women chose abortion: Celine Dion, Cher, Jack Nicholson, Andrea Bocelli, Pope John Paul II, Nick Cannon, Tim Tebow, Justin Bieber and Steve Jobs (though, we arguably could have done without Bieber's "Baby, Baby" teen anthem, Dion's inconically annoying "My Heart Will Go On" and anything Cher, I cannot discredit the value of their lives, despite their musical misfortunes.)

Instead, let's look at choices, and how those directly affect others.  Every single choice that is made has a consequence, good or bad, that affects not only that person, but others as well. A person's choice to go to college will directly influence the life of their future family.  A person's choice to get behind the wheel of a car while drunk directly influences others on the road. Even something small, and seemingly insignificant as a person's choice of higher education can have a lasting impact on generations to come. And our students don't always have that future vision.

In college, I had to learn how to live in a dorm, and share laundry facilities with nearly 100 other girls. It wasn't until my junior year that I realized specifically how my choices affected others, and how their choices affected me.  Living right next to the laundry room meant that when we heard a washer stop, we were able to run in there and use it.  Same with the dryers.  But in our rush to get our own laundry done, others was left piled on tables wet, or left to wrinkle in a jumble on the floor.  So, I started folding clean laundry.  Honestly, it was something I started simply because I felt guilt about taking other's clothes out of the dryer and was just too impatient to wait for them to come get it on their own time. But one day it changed.

I had folded a girl's laundry and was putting mine in the washer when she walked in. She looked around a bit, and when she located her neatly folded laundry, she burst into tears.  Asking her what was wrong revealed she was struggling in classes, and some serious junk was going on and she felt she was barely making it.  She explained that simple gesture not only saved her time, allowing her more study time, but also made her feel loved at a time when she felt worthless.

I never admitted that I had folded her laundry (so, if you happen to be reading this, surprise!). Instead, I went to my own room and cried.  If my good choices had such an impact on someone, how much more of a scar had my bad choices left?

Some students can recognize potential consequences, but in a culture that screams "Live for today," those speaking the truth are often lost as a whisper.  But consequences are real.  Just ask the children living without a parent because of a drug or alcohol addiction, or schools losing valuable funding because of the weight put on standardized testing, or teens living with sexually transmitted diseases because safe sex isn't.

At the Edge, and the Women's Care Center, we've seen the real life situations that many teens don't believe exist.  Some of them, we've seen personally.  We've seen the destruction of families because of the choices of one individual.  We've seen the struggles of students that feel lost and helpless in a pregnancy situation, without the support needed to finish school and provide for a child. We've seen the devastation that comes with a diagnosis of HIV or the affects of drug abuse on an unborn child. 

But, we've also seen the joy of teens completing second chance programs, of families overcoming addictions and the light that comes on when students realize their choices now matter and will affect tomorrow.

And honestly, the support of the community makes all this possible. The financial support as well as the helping hands that willingly serve our staff and our clients allow us to reach deep into the community and offer these life-changing services to students and adults alike.  Your decision to partner with us makes tomorrow a reality today.

 

So see, every choice matters. As you talk with others, or work to build a relationship with your teen, know that they need to hear the truth.  They need to know that every choice will make a difference.  And not just in their lives, but to others too.