"Seasons of Change," was the theme of last week's 11th Annual Fundraising Banquet for Care Net of Carbon County held at Blue Mountain Community Church, Palmerton.
If one did not know they were inside a country church, they might think they were seated inside an elaborate banquet hall as the church was resplendent with the colors and textures of fall. The church's Praise Team members, including Donnie Allen, Kristi Birchak, Jennifer Eckhart, Ron Gould, Stephen Hinkle, Cassandra McSparin, Jeff Russ and Yvonne Stout, provided the music. Little Adriana Hinkle also sang a selection and members of the church prepared and served the food.
Debbie Balch, administrative assistant at Care Net and the banquet coordinator, was assisted by committee members Susan DeMara, Jennifer Eckhart, Pat Eckhart, Lois Hollopeter, Liz Kauffman, Cathy Plocinik, Patricia Sterner and Yvonne Stout.
Lois Hollopeter, board president, served as master of ceremonies and the Rev. Robert Johnson offered the invocation and benediction.
Before she became a Care Net volunteer, DeMara, center director, said she really didn't understand the impact of abortion, but now knows the damage it causes to women and babies. She also learned that 200 couples are waiting for each baby put up for adoption.
Since becoming involved in Care Net, she has learned that "Children are our heritage from the Lord and the fruit of a woman's womb is His reward. Children are a central part of God's plan for his creation."
"God tells us that we are blessed by children," she said.
DeMara added that in today's culture, the world has lied to us, saying that children aren't a blessing but a burden – too much work, too expensive, too much worry, selfish and demanding – not an asset but a liability, and "a hindrance to our career."
She added, that some believe that "If you have children, don't discipline them or take them to church. Let them decide for themselves when they get older."
DeMara noted that these beliefs are just not true. She said God wants us to discipline our children because we love them and that we should teach our children about Him throughout the day, when we're eating, walking, sitting and lying down.
"Satan mixes truth with error," she said. "God wouldn't tell us they are a blessing without fitting us for the task."
As part of the evening's program, DeMara showed the trailer of "October Baby," a story about a college freshman whose world is rocked when she learns she is the adopted survivor of an attempted abortion.
DeMara asked everyone to view the movie sometime in the future as it explains the center's mission.
Following the presentation of "October Baby," DeMara invited two couples to share their story of how Care Net of Carbon County helped them make positive changes in their lives.
Angie and Travis Zimmerman of Lehighton shared how the love and support shown at Care Net has helped them deepen their relationship with each other and taught them to become good parents to their 7-month old child, Jacob.
Angie Zimmerman said she had no idea what it meant to be pregnant or have a baby. She also noted that both she and Travis didn't know much about having a good relationship and the importance of being married when raising a child.
"Marriage was right for us. We wanted to make this right for our kids," she said. "This is the right thing for our lives. Care Net has changed everything for us."
DeMara reminded that when assistance is needed with parenting, they are welcome to come to Care Net for that information.
Also speaking were Laura and Tim Snyder of New Ringgold. Laura said she met and dated many men, but none were right for her until she changed her mindset through Bible Study at Care Net. She said that she prayed for a godly man who would respect her and love her.
"It took a long time to meet Tim," she said. "As I waited, I drew closer to God."
She said that when she met Tim, their relationship grew stronger as friends and they fell in love. They got married on Sept. 17, 2011, and then she prayed for a baby. The result was twin sons, Jacob and Nathan, who are now 4 months old.
Laura said that she has been blessed after turning her life over to God.
DeMara introduced Joel and Marie Courtney of New Ringgold, who are counselors at Care Net and who counseled the Snyders in their relationship.
DeMara noted that she and Balch are seeing changes in the need for services provided in Carbon County.
"There are fewer people seeking abortions in Carbon County and more people seeking help with their relationships and parenting skills," she said.
Last year Care Net had 84 new clients and saw 18 babies born. They do it all on material resources of $23,501, 42 volunteers and only two employees working 4,000 hours. Forty-five clients accepted the Lord into their life and they gave out 25 Bibles. They receive no government funding.
Care Net of Carbon County offers many different educational programs, providing accurate information on pregnancy, fetal development, the options associated with pregnancy, single parenting, the effects of adoption or abortion, life skills and relationship issues.
The organization also offers some tangible assistance, such as free pregnancy tests, maternity and baby clothing, baby furniture, diapers and formula.