Catholics Matter: 1st Way director Kay Allen headed for Belize

Just three weeks shy of leaving the country and taking on a new mission in Belize, Kay Allen, director of 1st Way Pregnancy Center, was all fired-up about the clinic’s focus on reaching out to pregnant women. A client she’d hoped would choose life ended her pregnancy instead, giving into fears that she would lose her athletic scholarship.

“They are the most vulnerable,” Allen said of college-aged women. “Their parents are paying so much money…they cannot see hope and they cannot live with the shame. The women at the universities are frightfully at risk.”

Abortion, Allen tells them, will ruin their lives, as it has countless others. She’s already working on ways the clinic can reach out to more college students.

Last year, 1st Way performed 620 ultrasound exams on abortion-minded women. Ninety percent of them, Allen said, chose life. “Those girls are out in the heat getting on buses and almost passing out when they come in the door,” Allen said. “People here give them cold compresses and help them.” If their baby is screaming, volunteers recognize the cries of hunger and take clients in the back to give them formula, which some of the women are embarrassed to admit they’ve run out of.

The best thing about working at 1st Way, Allen said, is seeing the hand of God touching lives every day in tangible ways.

She recalled her early days at the clinic, when they ran out of size 4 and 5 diapers. Allen grabbed her purse and told staff she was headed to nearby Safeway to buy diapers with her own money. As she walked through the parking lot, a car pulled up. The driver stepped out and popped the trunk, revealing a cargo space completely filled with diapers — size 4 and 5.

“You don’t need faith,” Allen said. “God shows up every day.”

Allen, the mother of two grown sons, became a Catholic in her 20s and has always worked for the Church. She spent two and a half years working for Relevant Radio in Chicago and then for Miles Jesu in their national development office.

She became the executive director of 1st Way six years ago and recently decided, after much prayer, to give up everything — a job she loves, her home, most of her belongings and even her cat — to move to Belize. There, she will be the director of administration for a lay mission of a religious community, the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, known simply as SOLT.

Video: Kay Allen of 1st Way on “Catholics Matter”

Faith in a nutshell:

The miracle of 1st Way is that every day you come here, and no matter what you need, God provides. All we have to do is pray and sometimes within hours or even minutes, something happens.

What she loves about being Catholic:

I was raised Lutheran… but went into a Catholic church when I was pregnant with my first son. And I started going to daily Mass and I don’t even know why. It was close to my house. And I couldn’t take Communion, but I hungered for It. There was something so different happening during Communion and I couldn’t figure out what it was, but I wanted It.

Today, the thing I love the most about being Catholic, is Christ, the King of the Universe, being present to us at every single Mass. And if everyone could only see that, there’d be masses and droves of people fighting to get into the Church.

Take away:

If it weren’t for the mercy that I have been shown by God for my mistakes, I wouldn’t have given my whole life to His will. It’s because of His mercy and the transforming power of mercy in my life that I submit my life to wherever He takes me.

Parish:

St. Thomas the Apostle

Apostolates:

1st Way Pregnancy Center

Quotable:

Christ shines though every volunteer, through every member of the board, everywhere you look; Christ is so personal and so tangible here.  I tell everyone, when you have an experience of Christ like that and it doesn’t even take faith…you’re not meant to keep that to yourself. You have to heal the world.

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