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Life Options eyes expansion of men's ministry

Life Options' men's ministry is about to take on a whole new shape, thanks to an unprecedented two grants from Carenet and the National Fatherhood Initiative.

According to Life Options Executive Director Jan McDonald, the two entities teamed up to award grants. Carenet is the parent group of Life Options.

When it came time to submit grant requests, the Lower Yakima Valley group understood that they couldn't apply for both grants at the same time. Then the unthinkable, or, as McDonald would put it, the God-doable, happened.

The Grandview entity received two grants: the first grant establishes a fatherhood outreach ministry and is good for $20,000 per year in 2010 and 2011 to staff a fatherhood coordinator, as well as training and materials.

The second grant, which Life Options didn't apply for, is for $20,000 per year for 2010 and 2011 and is good for a part-time nurse manager or ultrasound personnel, and fatherhood support funding, as well as necessary training.

The key to the second grant is in order to use it, Life Options must be located in a brand new building, which is what Life Options has been working toward: finding a satellite office in Sunnyside.

The reason why Life Options was selected for the second grant is because out of all the similar centers across the United States, the Lower Valley center is one of a small few that offer men's ministry. And, adds McDonald, "We're right on the cusp of major expansion."

In order to implement the first grant, a man will have to be hired to operate the fatherhood outreach ministry. For the second grant, McDonald said Life Options will have to have its satellite office opened by January 2010, and providing ultrasounds by the following March.

"If it looks impossible, it's from God and we need to do it," said McDonald.

"At this point, it looks like we will be established in Sunnyside," she said, adding that nothing, though, is finalized yet.

Because the men's ministry of Life Options is expanding, McDonald has found there is a strong need for men's items in the incentive store.

How it works is men who attend parenting classes and other programs at Life Options are given "bucks" to spend in the incentive store. Right now, the incentive store has all kinds of fun stuff for women, like perfume and jewelry pins. What is desperately needed is items for men.

And when the satellite office in Sunnyside does open up, men will be needed to serve as mentors to those who seek help from the Life Options men's ministry.

The goal, said McDonald, "Is to keep fatherhood intact and plugged into their kids. If we do that, it makes for a better community."

She said that in today's society, the father's role is downplayed. Men in families come across as unimportant and that couldn't be further from the truth, she said.

"We know fathers are important when it comes to keeping families together and raising children."

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