New Lighthouse director on board

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Fayette Faces

By Panzi Blackwell

Tamela S. Polanin is well-qualified for the position of director of the Lighthouse Pregnancy Center, a position into which she has recently stepped.

Prior to coming to the pregnancy center, she was a counselor for the Sexual Assault and Family Emergencies clinic for more fine years, and was a volunteer for SAFE for about four years prior to that, giving her a background of experience working with women and teens. She also has all of the required education and training, and more.
Meet Tamela Polanin, as she talks about her position in a line of the work she loves.
The Inspiration
“I started out as a volunteer for SAFE and I loved it. That is why I went back to school to seek my bachelor’s degree. I now have two bachelor’s degrees in human resources/training and development and a bachelor’s degree in social work, and I have a master’s degree in human resources. I’m almost finished in my master’s degree in mental health counseling,” she said.
“I found a real passion when I started working as a volunteer. and decided, ‘That’s what I want to do,’ and that is what got me into this,” she said.
“So, I got my bachelor’s degree and I wanted to see children, for which I needed a master’s degree, so I did that. Then I thought, ‘I want to be a mental health counselor, and I wanted to get my license, so I did that.“
Being an adult, and a mother, she said she wanted to find a program that would work with her schedules,” she said.  She and her husband have three boys, Tayton, age 12; Garrin, age 5, and Caden, age 4. Tayton is in basketball and baseball, she said.
She admits to being “very busy, but I enjoy being busy, That is what keeps me on my toes,” she said.
On To the Lighthouse Pregnancy Center
“Then this opportunity came up. My stepmom, Brenda, actually told me about it. She saw it in her church bulletin. I thought, ‘Wow – there’s an opportunity. I’ve always wanted a chance to lead.
I love public speaking, I like to write and I thought, ‘This is my chance and I’ll be able to slip in some counseling and I can really make a difference.”
“The board asked me what my goals in life are and I have two goals – I want to speak nationally and I want to write a book. I said, ‘This is important to me. This is a job that I feel like I would gain the expertise that I would need.
“In order to do that, such as reach the youth, I have a lot of energy.  I’m very motivated, I’m a go-getter. It’s a challenging job, but I really do enjoy it.
Goals for the Pregnancy Center
 “We have several new goals,” she said. “We are going to be out on a 24-hour hotline for the area. We are in the preliminary stages and we hope to implement that by the end of the year.
“We hope to have ultrasound by this time next year, some medical, maybe even offering STD testing at that point, to make us more of a full service, to pull in people who might be abortion-minded. It’s one more tool we can provide. So that’s really important to us.
“So, we will be having a fundraising campaign. We have put back so many funds in order to get our ultrasound, and medical. So that’s going to be the big initiative for this year,” she said.
“It’s been a long process. It was kind of held up a little bit, are we ready or are we not? The decision was made by the board, we’re doing it. “
She said there is a “lot of stuff” – financing, legal requirements, etc. – “so we’re working on that. That is probably our biggest steps right now – ultrasound, hotline and testing.
“One thing we want to get out there is that we are a faith-based center and we never want to lose sight of what our mission is,” she said. “However, we won’t turn anyone away.  When we counsel and talk to our client, we’re not trying to push that upon them.
“If that is something they are interested in, then we will meet them where they are. I think that in the past, we may have gotten a different opinion out in the public, that we preach to them, but we don’t,” she said.
“That doesn’t lose sight of our mission, what we believe in, by any means, but we want them to know that everyone is welcome, and we will give you the services that you need, provide counseling, non-judgmental advocacy for you, pregnancy testing and, hopefully, ultrasound soon, with a non-judgmental ear for you. That is really important.”
The pregnancy is offering parenting classes now, and if you already have the baby, it doesn’t matter, you are welcome. ….We want to open our doors  and help everyone and help people realize that all life is sacred. It doesn’t matter if it is a new-born baby or a two or three year old, we want to help,” Polanin said.
The center also offers practical help, such as diapers, baby formula, clothes, blankets, all kinds of things that babies need and maternity clothing.
They are also going to offer fatherhood groups, and focus on dads, such as how to be a dad, how to be a better dad.
Volunteers are needed. Training is provided and the center will work with individuals’ schedules. “You have gifts and talents that Lighthouse Pregnancy Center can use,” Polanin said.
As a not-for-profit organization, all of its income is generated from public support, such as donations from churches, clubs and individuals, and memorials.
One of the main fundraisers, its annual banquet dinner, will be held on March 27, at 6 p.m., at the Mother of Dolors Parish Center.  Comedian, Mike Williams will entertain.
Contact the Pregnancy Center if you would like to attend. There is no charge for meal, but donations will be appreciated.