This is Alycia and I am interviewing myself about the agency I work for, Evangelical Child and Family Agency of Wisconsin. You’ll learn all the extra details throughout the interview:)
Who are you? My name is Alycia Marie. I’m actually the founder of this magazine:)
Where are you from? I am from the United States. I’ve lived in Missouri, Kentucky, Louisiana, Washington, Missouri, Wisconsin, and back in Wisconsin again. I plan on sticking with Wisconsin for a very long time though. Some people believe that missions is going to another country. I love doing short-term missions and recommend everyone do it. I believe that everyone should recognize that they may have a calling to ministry in the area where they are as well. The things I have seen in the U.S. – the way I’ve seen humans treat humans – have shown me a great need right here in my own backyard. Remember, you can minister right where you are at right now – no matter how old you are, where you live, or who you are around.
What do you do? I work with pregnant women – any pregnant woman in Southeast Wisconsin that needs support from Evangelical Child and Family Agency. Over the last 5 years, I’ve worked with pregnant women between the ages of 11 and 40 years old. I help set them on a successful life path for their family. Women come to me during all stages of pregnancy. Typically, I visit them at their home and help them create goals to better their lives. That can range from finding a place to live to starting college. Each woman is different and I meet them where they are at in life.
I’ve taken women to their first doctor’s appointments. Had the privilege of being the first person to hear a baby’s name. Sat with women during ultrasounds. Moved furniture into a new home. Held women’s hands while they pushed to deliver a new baby. Drove through all kinds of areas of Wisconsin to take women to Health Department or WIC appointments. Taught a new mother how to swaddle a baby. Enrolled a teenage mother back in school. Explained to other people how to help young mothers. Spoke to agencies about the needs of mothers. Encouraged young fathers that they can take care of kids. Held hands with a mother while she sits in court waiting to place her own child for adoption because that is the best decision for her and her baby (check out the video at the end of the article to learn more about moms that place for adoption). Every day brings a new opportunity and a new challenge. No day will ever be the same in my job.
What inspires you to work with mothers? So many things. Last week I interviewed Pam Smith from All God’s Children. In it, she said that motherhood is one of the highest callings in life. I strongly believe in that and want to support any woman to be the best mother they can be. My family also inspires me to work with mothers.
My parents were teen parents and I am always grateful to them for raising me. They were young and had to learn a lot, but they have always said they never regretted it. Right when I discovered my calling to work with mothers, my grandmother came forward with her own story. She actually publicized her story all over Kentucky (which I am super proud of her for). My grandmother had an abortion before it was legal and she had to walk a long journey to get over the sadness she felt for that decision. This inspired me even more to work with mothers. Growing up I saw so many amazing women come into my mom’s life and teach her all kinds of things. I want to be someone who can support any woman or man trying to make the best decision for their child.
How did you get connected to the agency? Evangelical Child and Family Agency (ECFA) was actually the first contact I had with places helping mothers. I had switched out of nursing into a psychology and human social services double major. All I knew was that I loved Psychology, but did not know what I wanted to do with it. My mother found the agency and encouraged me to look into them because she thought I might be interested in working with their adoption program. I ended up going to their Fall banquet in 2011. Their director and I connected almost instantly. We ended up keeping in touch over the next few years and during that time I ended up learning about working with pregnant women.
My love for working with pregnant women grew as I interned in a different pregnancy center during college. I then went off to graduate school for social work and worked at All God’s Children the entire time. During my last semester of graduate school, I received three different amazing job opportunities. None of them felt right. One night I decided to go check out that place that I had almost interned at. In the middle of the night, I saw they were looking for someone to work with mothers. I immediately applied and heard back the next day. Ironically, I had expressed my dislike of Wisconsin many times. When I graduated, I drove that weekend back to Wisconsin and started working for ECFA less than a month later.
Where do you see the agency going from here? Recently we had our director retire, staff leave, and new staff come onboard. There has been a lot of change, but I see a lot of cool things happen. I’m super excited to say we have a parenting curriculum called Nurturing Parent that we recently started using to teach people how to parent. The company is helping me to get my bilingual certification so we can serve Spanish speaking families.
We have an Illinois office that we are an extension of and we’ve started to partner with them even more on growing our services. One of the things I’m most excited about is working towards creating a coalition of places that help pregnant women to come and gather ideas from each other to better serve the community. I am looking forward to the continued journey of helping women and men navigate life through and after pregnancy.
What advice would you give to young people who want to help others? Do it. Sometimes you get the belief that you are too young to do something. There are definitely times where I wonder what on earth I am doing. How can I help a 30 something-year-old mother when I’m single, in my 20s, and without children? These are all doubts that have to be defeated. If God calls you to do something, you can do it. God enables you to do what you were created for. When you are on the path He has called you to, He gives you the answers when you need them. You also work extra hard to learn what you need to. I went to school for 6 years and continue to learn things from all of the people around me who do similar things. Don’t ever doubt what you know you are called to or let someone tell you that you can’t do something God has called you to.
What is your favorite Scripture? My favorite Scripture is 2 Timothy 1:7. I love this verse because it explains that when you have God, you can overcome any fears. Many people would be surprised to know that I was a pretty shy child and am very introverted. Now I walk into strangers homes and speak in front of large groups of people. I probably wouldn’t have believed you if you told my younger self that I would be here today. However, God gives you power, love, and release all anxiety from you.
For God has not given us the spirit of Fear; but of power, love, and of a sound mind.
How can others minister to women facing unplanned pregnancies around them? Love them. It really is as simple as that. Show your support. Be present. Check out this article I wrote awhile back about ministering to women facing unplanned pregnancies: http://tirzahmag.com/talk-someone-facing-unplanned-pregnancy/
*This is a video about the journey of adoption for women who choose to place for adoption. Most people don’t know this but the state of Wisconsin requires women to go through a strenuous court process, even going up on a stand, to place their child for adoption. Placing a child for adoption is extremely hard and emotionally tiring for a birth mother and an adoptive couple.