In the business of life

Gaby Ugarte sits with her son Raymond, 14, during a May 5 speech by Pam Tebow at a Columbia Gorge Pregnancy Resource Centers’ fundraiser in The Dalles that drew nearly 400 people. Ugarte works for the organization and shared her story about choosing to be a teen mom instead of having an abortion as she was urged to do.

Photo by RaeLynn Ricarte.
Gaby Ugarte sits with her son Raymond, 14, during a May 5 speech by Pam Tebow at a Columbia Gorge Pregnancy Resource Centers’ fundraiser in The Dalles that drew nearly 400 people. Ugarte works for the organization and shared her story about choosing to be a teen mom instead of having an abortion as she was urged to do.

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Pam Tebow speaks to a large audience in The Dalles May 5. RaeLynn Ricarte photo

Pam Tebow visited The Dalles last week to speak about “Timmy,” her son who is widely known as Tim Tebow, a football quarterback who earned the Heisman trophy — college’s most prestigious award — in 2007.

Pam told nearly 400 people gathered at the Fort Dalles Readiness Center on May 5 that Tim, now 28, was her youngest of five children and a “miracle baby.”

She and her husband, Bob, were missionaries in the Philippines at the time of that pregnancy in 1986, said Tebow.

She was recovering from a case of amoebic dysentery and advised by doctors to have an abortion for her own safety. In addition, Tebow was told that her baby was likely to be born with devastating disabilities due to the strong antibiotics that had been used to treat her illness.

“I was very dehydrated, very sick,” she said.

While pregnant, Tebow said she almost lost the baby four times but still refused to consider an abortion. Instead, she and her husband promised God that if he gave them a son, they would name the boy after Apostle Timothy, an early Christian evangelist, and he would also become a preacher.

“It was a time when I had to trust the Lord,” she said. “We asked all of our family and friends to pray.”

Her message was delivered to people attending the Columbia Gorge Pregnancy Resource Centers’ fundraiser, which Tebow had come to support.

On Aug. 14, 1987, Pam said that she delivered a healthy, if somewhat malnourished, boy who grew up to play both college and professional football.

She said the Tebow family became controversial when an abbreviated version of Tim’s birth was featured in a pro-life Super Bowl Ad aired by Focus on the Family, a Christian advocacy group, on Feb. 7, 2010.

Media outlets challenged the merits of the story. Tim’s public displays of Christianity, both on and off the field, also made him a controversial figure.

Pam recounted how Tebow frequently wore references to biblical verses on his eye black during his football career. She said tens of millions of peopled searched online for Philippians 4:13 and John 3:16 because of his actions.

“At first the media thought he had a friend named ‘Phil,’” she laughed. “He wanted the world to know how he felt about his God.”

In 2010, a new rule for the NCAA football season banned messages on eye paint and was dubbed the “Tebow rule” by the media.

Pam said journalists also questioned the family’s decision to homeschool their children.

Despite drawing fire for their Christian beliefs, Pam said the family has stood strong and continued in their work to help others.

In addition to being an ESPN football broadcaster, Tim launched the Tim Tebow Foundation in 2010 and Pam said he now dedicates much of his time to helping disabled and seriously ill children.

“You are doing God’s work here by saving babies,” she told the resource centers’ volunteers, staff and board members from 14 area churches.

“These little guys that get to be born, we have no idea what will happen with their lives. We are in the business of ‘miracles.’”

CGPRC opened a new office in The Dalles at the start of the year, 3206 W. Sixth St., Suite 300 (John L. Scott building). The headquarters of the organization is in Hood River at 1936 12th St, Suite 100 (behind the Ranch Drive In).

Carol Wagar, executive director of the centers, reported May 5 that the annual operating budget of nearly $168,250 in 2015 was funded 68 percent by individual donations and 27 percent from 37 churches.

She said 73 percent of the centers’ funding went into programs that range from parenting classes to distribution of maternity and baby supplies and counseling for women struggling emotionally from an abortion.

There are currently four staffers on duty at the centers to provide services.

Clients — there were 1,337 in 2015 — are usually between 17 and 29 years of age and come from different races and religions, said Wagar.

She said the number of women and men accessing services has more than doubled in the last two years.

“We are getting our name out there by word of mouth,” she said.

The office environment is “warm and welcoming” she said, because the mission of the centers is to meet the needs of people where they are at and not judge them.

“We want to be a part of these communities, we want to see them reached well,” said Wagar.

She said, with the support of area churches and community members who shared the nonprofit organization’s vision, enough money could be raised to provide more STD testing and educational tools about healthy relationships.

Gaby Ugarte, one of the centers’ staffers, introduced her son, Raymond, 14, who she gave birth to as a single mom at the age of 16.

At that time she lived in California and said leaders of a teen organization encouraged her to have an abortion, which she almost did.

“As I look back, I thank God I was able to hear his still, small voice (and I didn’t go through with it),” she said.

Instead, she struggled through completion of high school and went to college, determined to fulfill the wishes of her parents.

“I am blessed beyond words to be his mother,” she said.

Cindy Brunk, a board member for the resource center, said she lives with the guilt of having aborted a child.

She has been healing from years of depression and anxiety through support from staff at the centers. “I feel absolutely certain that I am a beloved daughter of an almighty King,” she said.

She said 43 percent of women have reported having one or more abortions, which she believes causes behavioral changes that affect an entire family.

“It changes us,” she said.

For more information about programs and volunteer opportunities call Columbia Gorge Pregnancy Resource Centers at 541-386-1050 in Hood River or 541-296-0650 in The Dalles. The organization’s website can be accessed at columbiagorgeprc.org.

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