Pregnancy Center in Arizona Severely Burned in Apparent Arson Attack
by Steven Ertelt
December 31, 2009
Whiteriver, AZ (LifeNews.com) — A pregnancy center in rural eastern Arizona that serves a predominantly native American population was severely burned in what appears to be an arson attack. The Living Hope Women’s Center clinic has closed indefinitely as a result of a fire that gutted a portion of the building on December 20.
Dinah Monahan, the former executive director and current board president of the group of pregnancy centers that operate as Living Hope, says it appears to her the fire was deliberate.
The center maintains a Fatherhood Store and Mommy Store to help low-income residents earn the ability to purchase critically needed pregnancy and other items and Monahan says they were raided.
She told the White Mountain Independent newspaper that whoever started the fire vandalized televisions, VCRs and other equipment before setting the blaze in the back of the building.
The board president indicated that a local resident who lives next door to the clinic heard and saw people at the scene and chased them away from the clinic after the fire began. The neighbor was able to wrestle one person to the ground and the newspaper indicates the individual is now in police custody.
Monahan indicated the fire did not burn the clinic to the ground but caused enough fire and smoke damage that the clinic facility is useless until it undergoes major repairs.
Monahan told the WMI the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) is investigating the fire and that a representative from the Phoenix Bureau of Indian Affairs has investigated as well because the fire would be a federal crime since it occurred on an Indian reservation.
The center president told the newspaper that ATF officials asked her if the pregnancy center was involved in anything controversial that might have sparked a hate crime.
"The agent very gingerly asked if we were involved in ‘anything controversial’ in our ministry," she said. "You can imagine what they hear about Crisis Pregnancy Centers, abortion clinic bombings and the like. I assured him that even though we are a CPC, our work was mostly pre-natal and parenting and that the culture in Whiteriver is very pro-life."
She told the newspaper the apparent arson will set the pregnancy center back quite a bit financially and logistically.
"When we think of everything we had in there it is a bit overwhelming. We had just gotten two new computers, a new ultrasound machine, a very large screen TV and of course our beautiful, huge Mommy Store. But these are things that can be replaced. One greater challenge will be where do we go from here?" Monahan asked.
She is concerned because the availability of buildings in Whiteriver is very scarce.
Monahan indicated the Whiteriver pregnancy center had 400-600 visits every month from the low-income people who live in the community.
"As our staff stood outside the building, clients would come and cry as they looked at the devastation," she said. "This ministry is so loved by so many there. We are looking at our options, one which is to lease a large lot and build or place a modular on it. Whatever we do, build, remodel or use a modular, we feel strongly that the people of Whiteriver are the ones who should do it."
She told the WMI that funds are critically needed to rebuild.
"As I stood there a man and wife came by and he said, ‘I’m a carpenter, what can I do to help?’ The one thing they can’t do is raise funds, so the ministry will be doing this, but the work will be done by the Apache people."
ACTION: You can help the center rebuild with a donation to Living Hope Women’s Centers, 1000 E. Huning St., Show Low, AZ 85901
Related web sites:
Living Hope Women’s Centers – https://www.womenscpc.org
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