Teen mom happy with motherhood, thanks to pregnancy center

She could be mistaken for a model, a young career woman or a college student.

But Diana Arroyo is none of those things.

Although still a teen, she is the mother of a 7-month-old daughter – and said she couldn't be happier.

But when Arroyo first became pregnant she was 16, unmarried and scared.

She didn't know where to turn or what to do.

"From the very beginning I knew I wanted a baby, but as a teen-ager you don't know much about being pregnant and don't have much money to buy things for the baby," she said.

When a cousin told Arroyo about Advice and Aid Pregnancy Problem Center she thought she had found her "guardian angel."

"Without them I wouldn't have made it through my pregnancy," she said as she held Adriana May in her arms Friday.

"Not only did they help me understand what I was going through, they taught me to take care of myself, and to talk to my baby and sing to her."

Arroyo said everything she learned at the center was passed on to her mother, who was going through a pregnancy at the same time she was.

She was also able to "shop" at the center for needed items before, and after, her pregnancy.

"I wouldn't have had anything for my baby.

Now I have diapers, shoes, dresses and T-shirts," she said.

"They have saved my life."

Arroyo and the baby's father have married, and she said the baby has brought them closer.

"She is our bundle of love," she added.

The Advice and Aid Pregnancy Center has been in existence since 1998.

Its motto is, "You don't have to face it alone."

"We don't judge," said Teresa Reaume, the founder and executive director of the center.

"There are times when a pregnancy is viewed as a problem because of physical, emotional, social or untimely factors," Reaume, a former pre-school teacher, said.

"The center exists to aid women who may not be aware of all their options by providing information and support as they sort through their questions and fears."

The center is, however, a pro-life organization and as such counsels against legal abortion.

The free program offers guidance and support to women experiencing a problem pregnancy.

Services such as free pregnancy tests; advice and aid in dealing with crises situations; and referrals for medical care, housing and other community resources are provided at the center.

"The women learn about prenatal and postnatal issues, discipline and nutrition during pregnancy, as well as information about the development of the baby during pregnancy and after," Reaume said.

Clothing and furnishings for mother and baby can be "purchased" with credits earned at the center through the "Earn While You Learn Program," and childbirth and pre-natal classes, referrals for adoption and a 24-hour hotline are available.

Arroyo was able to earn "credits" to buy needed items throughout her pregnancy at the center's "baby store," which is stocked with baby clothing and furniture.

Arroyo earned credits by doing homework — reading pamphlets and books or keeping a doctor appointment or attending parenting or Lamaze classes — and then writing a one-page report on what she had learned.

She was able to use the credits — two credits for 12 diapers or one credit for a package of baby wipes — to "buy" maternity clothes, baby clothes and even baby furniture for five to ten credits.

Reaume is no stranger to helping pregnant women.

When she lived in Flagstaff she became involved in the pro-life movement and started a right-to-life group that she chaired for five years.

"When I moved to Kingman I wanted to do something," she said.

"I wanted to help the community in some way.

I'd seen the need for a pregnancy problem center here."

A non-profit organization run by a seven-member board of directors and a staff of volunteers, the center has helped more than 300 clients from 16 to 25 years old.

Always in need of donations of baby items and more volunteers, the center also needs donations to survive.

Once a year the center holds a fund-raiser – the Walk for Life – in April.

This year the Walk for Life will be from 10 a.m.

to noon April 13 at Centennial Park.

Sponsors are needed to solicit pledges for the walk.

There will also be drawings for prizes such as meals at local restaurants and stays at Laughlin casinos, Reaume said.

For more information call 692-1301 or stop by the center at 2170 Northern Ave.