Young, newly married and suddenly pregnant, Sandra Naranjo-Garcia and Gerardo Rubio-Pascual found themselves unprepared.
Feeling overwhelmed and scared, they did not know what resources were available to them.
While their baby came as a surprise, both were overjoyed at the news.
However, unlike her husband, Naranjo-Garcia didn’t have medical insurance at the time. Right now, she is waiting for her citizenship paperwork to come back approved, and until that happens, she can’t apply for insurance or get put on her husband’s plan.
So the couple was very concerned thinking of how they would pay for all the medical expenses that come with having a baby. CareNet, Naranjo-Garcia said, helped her get insurance through her baby’s first birthday.
Johanna Wolf, client services director for the Federal Way CareNet location, said they connect their clients with step-by-step maternity case managers to help get expectant mothers insurance.
The young couple found CareNet, located at 1414 S. 324th St. #b-105 Federal Way, through an online search, and were suprised at the level of care they experienced when they first walked in.
“It’s like coming home,” Rubio-Pascual said.
Not only were they able to get doctor’s referrals from CareNet, but they’re also attending classes to help them with budgeting and healthy eating for the baby.
“They are angels,” Rubio-Pascual said. “We don’t have anything but good things to say about them.”
Originally started as a crisis pregnancy center in Tacoma, CareNet now offers assistance to women for pregnancy and early childcare, all at no cost to clients.
Kaeley Triller, communications director for CareNet, said the purpose of the organization is to bring aid and comfort to women during a confusing time.
“It’s scary to find yourself pregnant when you don’t think that’s where you want to be in life,” she said.
Which is why CareNet is dedicated to helping women through the scary, uncomfortable and overwhelming time, no matter their decision.
They are able to provide their services at no cost to clients because of the generous donations they recieve.
“It’s amazing how year after year we somehow manage,” Triller said.
She said she thinks a lot of their donors are people who have lived through a crisis pregnancy situation or know someone who has and want to give back.
“It’s really beautiful to watch,” she said.
She noted CareNet won’t take state money because they do not want the state to dictate what types of services they can offer.
“Once the state funds something, they control it,” Triller said, and CareNet does not want their practice to be confined to state regulations.
Triller said she thinks CareNet sometimes gets an unfair rap in the regional community because they are a faith-based organization. However, she wanted to assure everyone that they are not there to convert clients.
“We mostly just want to be a bridge,” she said. “People think without coming in here that we’re gonna be Bible thumping and we don’t do that.”
She said they always invite people to pray if they would like to, or ask if they would like to be prayed for, but they never force religious beliefs or decisions on their clients. Because of this, CareNet does not offer abortion services or referrals for abortions. However, they do provide clients with information about abortion and let them decide if that is what they want to do.
“We think that women absolutely need to be the ones to make that choice without being shamed into whatever it is,” Triller said.
In fact, she herself was also a client of CareNet when she was scared, confused and pregnant 12 years ago. She got in touch with CareNet to help her through the uncertainties. Another plus was her mother is the executive director of the nonprofit.
Having this helping hand with her while she navigated her pregnancy gave her comfort, she said, and now she wants to help provide that same comfort and reassurance to other women.
“It is possible this could be a beautiful experience.”
Other than select medical services, CareNet also offers parenting classes and baby necessities.
CareNet has a system where clients earn “money” by attending parenting classes at the facility, which they can then redeem for baby clothes, furniture, diapers, bottles and other necessities.
Along with providing free services to pregnant women, CareNet also has something called the Smart Freedom Program that goes around to different schools in the area to talk to youth about the dangers of sex trafficking.
It’s surprising how prevalent the issue is, Triller said, and how it can be to find yourself in that situation and not even realize it. She said the goal of the program is to help prevent sex trafficking, because this issue is very much preventable.
One of the dangers is the degree of naivety surrounding it, she said.
“You can be online as a teenage girl, talking to somebody who seems close to your age, and you’re gonna go meet him one time and you’re gone,” Triller said.
While the program is specifically targeted to youth, its open to anyone of any age, particularly parents.
“We also have an option for parents or anybody who’s interested because I think a lot of the time, to parents, especially of the younger generation, they feel so disconnected from what’s actually happening.”
Triller said CareNet also partners with Adorned in Grace, a ministry that helps rescue young girls who have been caught up in trafficking. They have a bridal shop, and the profits from the shop go towards their anti-trafficking mission.
Along with six clinic locations around the Puget Sound and King County area, CareNet also has two mobile units to provide services like pregnancy testing, STD screenings and medical referrals, Triller said.
Wolf, the client services director for the Federal Way location, had a similar surprise pregnancy story.
Over 30 years ago, Wolf was stationed overseas in the military, where she found herself pregnant. She was not involved with the father, and she was unsure what to do next.
She decided to move back home with her parents to help her get through the pregnancy.
She says she wishes CareNet had existed when she found herself pregnant with her daughter, but she’s happy to work there now and help give back to women who were in a similar situation to her all those years ago.
The Federal Way location has about 778 client appointments per year, with about 306 of those being Federal Way residents and the rest from areas outside the city like Seattle and Auburn.
Triller said they require each of their volunteers and staff members to go through a pregnancy coaching certification from the American Association of Christian Counselors if they have direct contact with clients.
However, she said only the trained medical professionals are administering any of the medical procedures.
For more information about CareNet, you can visit their website care-net.org.