Kicking off a newly formed partnership between Catholic Charities and Life Centers of Ventura County to assist needy moms, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held recently at Catholic Charities’ Community Services Center in Oxnard to celebrate with clients the expanded services that are being offered.

Those services include assistance with clothing, supplies and some food items for struggling mothers and their babies.

“This is a huge benefit,” said Emily Raab, executive director of Life Centers, located a few blocks from Catholic Charities on A Street near downtown Oxnard. “We used to handle some food and supplies for our clients, but the focus was getting away from our mission of counseling these young women. We are grateful to Catholic Charities for helping.”

Founded in 1972, Life Centers is a non-profit crisis pregnancy center with a primary focus on counseling young women, some of which might be tempted to end their pregnancies. In addition to a 24-hour hotline for questions and assistance, a licensed marriage and family counselor, and peer counselors, are available by appointment. Services offered include referrals for maternity homes, doctors and social services in addition to free pregnancy testing.

“Many young women come to us nervous or scared, and they need direction,” Raab explains. “As a pro-life organization, we provide that support for them, encouraging them to bring their babies into the world. And yet we were finding that their needs go beyond what we were able to give them.”

Prior to the new partnership with Catholic Charities, Life Centers did provide some maternity clothes and a layette for newborns.

“We support these young women through their pregnancies, but someone needs to pay attention once the babies come into the world,” asserts Pat Esseff, program director for Catholic Charities, Ventura, adding that many clients need the basics for their newborns.

“We have seen a growing need for this kind of support from our clients,” says Janet De Prima, client resource coordinator of the Oxnard Catholic Charities office. “Baby Day” will be held every Monday in Oxnard to make it easy for clients to pick up what they may need most for their babies up to three years old.

Everything available — clothing, supplies and food — comes from donations from local parishes, community members and local businesses. DePrima says they are always in need of gently used baby clothes and donations of diapers of all sizes.

Life Centers will continue to offer emotional and psychological support and counseling to expectant and new mothers in addition to referrals. It is hoped that soon the agency will have someone to do ultrasounds for expectant moms right at the Center.

With obvious enthusiasm, Raab --- citing Life Centers’ and Catholic Charities’ close proximity to one another --- declares, “Women can come to Life Centers and to Catholic Charities for a continuum of care.”

For information on Life Centers of Ventura County, call (805) 486-2171, or visit To contact Catholic Charities’ Oxnard Community Center, call (805) 486-2900.