Clients of Options for Women may shop for maternity wear and baby supplies in the center’s boutique. Courtesy photos
Clients of Options for Women may shop for maternity wear and baby supplies in the center’s boutique. Courtesy photos

Thanks to generous donations from local faith-based entities, a pregnancy resource center in Cherry Hill with a more than 35-year presence for women experiencing unplanned pregnancies now has an office in the Trenton Diocese.

Options for Women opened its Trenton location in February, 11 months into the COVID-19 pandemic, which may explain why the numbers of clients has been low. That’s something that Options director Kim Sanford hopes to change.

“We are new – we’re trying to get the word out,” she said. “All appointments are free and confidential. This is a no-judgment zone – we are just here to listen and help in any way possible.”


That help includes no-cost pregnancy testing, ultrasound, counselling and referrals to additional services – financial, medical, employment, housing and adoption. The center also offers classes on breastfeeding, labor and delivery, parenting skills and fatherhood mentoring, as well as a young mom’s support group and much more.

“The COVID shutdown really made it difficult to serve women in need,” said Rachel Hendricks, diocesan Respect Life coordinator. “Options for Women has been vetted as a wonderful resource based on Christian values.

“All too often these women have nowhere to turn for help,” she continued. “By approaching each woman in need with compassion, dignity and respect, pregnancy help centers act as real life examples of Christ’s mercy. [They] literally feed the hungry, clothe the naked and to give hope to those in despair.”

Safety protocols like face masks, temperature-taking and COVID vaccines for all Options employees and volunteers are mandatory. Sandford said that unfortunately finding help has been challenging. “We have just two volunteers, one of whom oversees our boutique,” she said. “We are looking for help stuffing envelopes and for a Spanish-speaking volunteer to help answer telephones a couple days a week.”

In Options for Women Trenton’s on-site boutique, women can pick up baby supplies like diapers and wipes, and maternity clothing in various sizes.

Pregnancy tests are administered by registered nurse Diane DiMola. “I cannot do what I do without her,” Sanford attested. DiMola is assisted by sonographer Kate Deiling, who also teaches at Rowan University, Glassboro.

Counselors have gone through the CareNet counseling services program. Sanford, who began working with Options for Women in November 2020, is currently the sole counselor at the Trenton location, and is studying for her doctorate in marriage and family therapy.

“After they have their ultrasound, I go into the counselling room with them, just let them let it out,” she said of the emotions expressed by expectant mothers. “They might not be expecting a pregnancy, or the father doesn’t want the child, or their mom says they can’t have the baby – all of those things come out in the counselling room.”

The Christian faith-based ministry of Options has been sustained by many Catholic and Christian groups in the area.

“We’ve got some generous donors!” Sanford said of Brennan Coughlin, pastor of Fellowship CrossPoint, a congregation that moved to Chesterfield; after raising money for a new building, the group was given a church – so they transferred their fundraising proceeds to Options for Women.

Sanford pointed out that the Knights of Columbus Council 7677 of St. Gregory the Great Parish, Hamilton Square, and St. Vincent DePaul recently awarded the center with $1,500.

Barbara McGeachen, member of the Respect Life ministry in St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Hightstown, said that one of its ministry members heard about St. Gregory the Great Parish’s donations and prompted St. Anthony’s to follow suit. Having held baby showers for Birthright of Freehold several times, they were able to organize quickly.

“Our parishioners are always willing to donate baby items for these women in need,” McGeachen explained. Respect Life and Youth Group members helped collect donations during Masses May 29 and 30, and Knights of Columbus Council 6284 helped deliver the more than 1,600 diapers, 3,000 wipes, seven blankets handmade by the parish’s Prayer Shawl ministry, 34 clothing items and more.

“Monetary donations totalled $575,” McGeachen confirmed. “We thank our pastor, Father Oscar Sumanga, for his continued support of our pro-life ministry.”

Donations also helped fund a new ultrasound van, called the Hope Mobile Unit, which offers pregnancy testing and ultrasounds in Mercer and Camden counties by a registered nurse, and counselling.

Options for Women does not make abortion referrals or birth control, but instead strives to connect women with alternatives and extended support. Some of the women, Sanford said, who come with abortion in mind decide to carry to term, “especially after the ultrasound. It makes it real.

“They come in a little solemn,” she continued, “but after the ultrasound they have a different mindset. When they decide to carry, they seem to have a different type of glow.”

“We are so grateful to the entire staff at Options for Women in Trenton for offering the invaluable services that so many women need in order to provide for their babies,” Hendricks said. “By offering free physical, emotional and material support, this center acts as an oasis of hope amidst the very difficult challenges in which women sometimes find themselves.”

PLEASE NOTE: Options for Women in Trenton and Cherry Hill are not affiliated with Options for Women in Howell and Plainfield, an abortion service provider. Please visit optionsnj.org to reach the center featured in this article.