PDT Staff Writer
Jill Mullins doesn’t believe for one minute that she accidentally stepped into the job as the new executive director of CRADLE (Christ Centered Resources to Assist in Difficult Life Experiences) located in the Carousel Center in Portsmouth.
If you enter the building in the early morning hours you will find the staff having prayer together. It is only after prayer that she will tell you why her job is not a job, and CRADLE is not a program, it is a ministry.
“I do believe that God wants me to move forward in different ways, I’m not sure what,” Mullins said. “I look at what they are doing, and its all so good. But I know that our community has changed, our culture has changed. We have a lot of mothers that are pregnant, and we have to deal with the drug addiction that we see, and how that impacts the community.”
Mullins said she saw the same issues as a school counselor.
“I never could fully share the hope that I have in Christ,” Mullins said. “And now I’m in a situation where I can do that. I can fully give the fulfillment of the ultimate need.”
This past year was Mullins’ last full year of retirement. She was a school counselor, the last 12 years at Valley Local Schools in Lucasville, and prior to that was a counselor and teacher at Wheelersburg. She has been involved with CRADLE, which was incorporated in 1996, and its programs for the last several years, so she understands the operation, but she was not planning on stepping right back into the workday grind.
“This past year has just been a time of rest and renewal and of getting my feet back under me and enjoying my grandchildren and connecting with my friends and neighbors,” Mullins said. “I also had time to do things I had not normally had the time to do - I got in bible studies again, and I have been able to join a morning prayer group, and I was very content with that. I wanted to do things. I wanted not to just be busy in retirement, but I wanted to be fruitful and I wanted God to be a part of that.”
She said through her study in the book of John in the bible over the last several months, she has learned something new.
“It’s not about me asking him to be a part of what I’m doing. It’s me being a part of what he’s doing,” Mullins said. “That was just a real shift in my thinking. When this position became open, several people on the board asked if I’d be interested, and I was reluctant because I didn’t want to get back in this frenzied work world again. But God really changed my heart, so I had a real desire to be here.”
Denise Haney-Hurley had been involved as executive director, but now will move over to be chairperson of the board of directors of CRADLE. She says the ministry is the brainchild of founder Maura Pilet.
“As a nurse-midwife, she saw this huge need in the community to reach these new moms with spiritual and physical help,” Haney-Hurley said. “And as she would see these babies being born to these children, she saw, initially, a need for not only the gospel, but maternity health — pregnancy-related health, and she put together our original mission and vision and values. And we have stuck to that, and continue to grow under the scriptures and using the bible as the sole authority for our counseling, our discipleship, our evangelism, our outreach.”
The ministry, which gets no public funding of any kind, including no grants, started with the sponsorship by four churches, which grew to six. Now, 14 churches of all denominations, support the program monthly, and several others with annual or semi-annual financial gifts. They also receive referrals from groups such as The Counseling Center, Stepping Stones, the Community Action Organization Clinic, WIC, the Department of Job and Family Services, all the obstetrician/gynecologists and the hospitals. Dr. Geroge Pettit and Dr. Carolyn Arnett also help by providing pregnancy tests.
Donna Clark, the office manager at CRADLE said pregnancies are not the only thing they deal with. There is a huge area on the third floor at Temple Baptist Church next door, where supplies are kept for mothers and children.
“We see clients that already have kids, so they come in for what we call a physical emergency, like diapers, formula, clothing for their kids, cribs, strollers, high chairs,” Clark said.
Cribs are at a premium at CRADLE. That’s because, by law, they cannot give out used cribs for safety reasons. So they need individual people or faith-based groups or businesses to donate the price of a crib.
CRADLE will have a walk on Aug. 24 with registration at 8 a.m., at the Carousel Center, and the walk actually beginning at 9 a.m. Haney-Hurley said everyone is invited to take part in the walk whether they have sponsors or not.
According to their literature, the purpose of CRADLE is to share the good news of Jesus Christ with men, women and children through the Christ-centered provision of crisis pregnancy intervention, childbirth education and abstinence instruction.
Anyone needing their services can just walk in, Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., at their offices at 1112 Gallia St. in Portsmouth, or they can call 740-354-CARE.
“One thing that impressed me about this ministry as I was looking over their policies and procedures manual. The day begins with prayer, and throughout the procedures, and when you are meeting with a client, you begin with prayer,” Mullins said. “We think prayer is essential. That is going to be the strength that we get from God to do the work because there is a spiritual warfare here, and we have to have God’s strength to do that.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.