#GiveLife: Join Choices Clinic and Give the Ultimate Gift on November 28th by Katie Gustafson

Giving Tuesday

We all know about Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, but have you heard of Giving Tuesday?  #GivingTuesday is a global movement that takes place on the Tuesday immediately following Thanksgiving. But instead of focusing on shopping, #GivingTuesday is all about on giving back. All over the world, charities and businesses who do good in their local communities are becoming partners with #GivingTuesday, inviting others to support their cause by donating time, money, goods or acts of kindness. In the holiday season of giving, #GivingTuesday puts the focus on giving back to causes that are making a difference. To see this movement in action, simply search the hashtag, “#GivingTuesday,” on any social media platform.  This year, Choices Clinic of Laurel, MS, has partnered with the #GivingTuesday movement and invites you to join them in their local mission to bring better lives to the women, children and families to south Mississippi.

Give Life

Life is a mosaic of our choices. Sure, our families, genes, and circumstances outside of our control all play a major role in determining the people we become. However, even those events can have completely different outcomes based on our responses. This is a direct result of our ability to choose. There is an immense freedom in the human right of choice. Universally, choice makes us human. Individually, our particular choices make us who are. But what about those times when our choices look impossible?  Even worse, what about when it seems like we have no choices, at all?

Illness, poverty, loss of a loved one, responsibilities forced upon us that seem insurmountable: these are the sorts of events which can strip us of the feeling of choice. These situations are often already the lowest of low points. However, they can be made even worse by the fact that feeling choice-less means also feeling helpless and, in turn, hopeless.

A famous psychological study in classical conditioning shows what can happen in this situation. In the study, a dog experienced negative feedback (a mild shock) immediately after a bell was rung. It didn’t matter what the dog did, the result was the same each time. After a very short while, the shock was removed, but the dog continued to respond as if he had been shocked whenever he heard the bell ring. Later, the accompanying shock was brought back into the experiment, but this time the dog was given the option to remove himself from the situation.  Astounding the researchers, the dog actually chose to lie down and accept the pain instead of trying to get away from it. Since the dog in this study had initially been taught that nothing he could do would alter his circumstances, he gave up. When there actually was a way out, he could not find it because he had already learned to accept that he had no power. This concept is well-known today as Seligman’s Learned Helplessness.

The same concept applies to people.

It can be counter-intuitive for us to look for a way out of a situation that seems hopeless, especially when we have been repeatedly hit by hard circumstances. We often can’t see our choices, even if we do have them. In these situations, we need someone from the outside to come in and offer support, learning, and empowerment.

This is what Choices Clinic offers to its clients. Working with overwhelmed women who are facing the difficult situation of an unexpected pregnancy, the staff at Choices Clinic show their clients that they are not alone, and that they do have choices in how they will respond.

The specific choices that women face in the midst of an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy are often oversimplified or misunderstood.  This may result in the huge amount of external pressure that women feel when facing this situation. They may be pressured to “just take care of it” (abortion) or to “suck it up and grow up” (unprepared, often single, parenthood).  One way or another, these women are often treated as if their pregnancy is an inconvenience to society, one that they must deal with alone.  Since both abortion and parenthood may be frightening unknowns to these women, many of them find themselves stuck in the helpless/hopeless spiral, in which they may respond to the shock of their circumstances by lying down and succumbing to external pressures.

Fortunately for the community of Laurel, Choices Clinic is not the kind of establishment that views unplanned pregnancy as an inconvenience. Instead, this organization functions as a haven from judgement and external pressure: a place to pause, learn, and grow. The compassionate staff at Choices approach their work as an opportunity to serve women, couples, and families by offering education as well as emotional and practical support. They offer free pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, and STI/STD testing, as well as life-skill/parenthood classes and male mentoring for prospective fathers. The staff at Choices wants their clients to feel comfortable as they have their questions answered about the reality of their choices, so that these women can make an informed decision. Choices Clinic is a resource that gives women the power that they may have felt like they didn’t have before—the power to take control of the situation.

If you live in Laurel and are familiar with Choices Clinic, you may already know that this organization has a pro-life orientation. The truth is that Choices is “pro-life” in many more ways than one.  You won’t find judgement behind the doors at Choices, but what you will find is practical and emotional support, education, and empowerment. This is an organization that wants to build healthy lives, not only for unborn children, but also for expectant mothers, for soon-to-be-fathers, and for the family unit as a whole. Through this endeavor, and through helping women find the choices they didn’t think they had, Choices Clinic creates a powerful ripple effect that helps give life to our community as a whole.

How to Participate

As a non-profit, Choices Clinic could not do the work that it does without support from the local community. It requires donations of time, money and labor for Choices to keep empowering and serving lives in and around Laurel. If you would like to partner with Choices Clinic and be a participant in #GivingTuesday this year, please go to the fundraising page on www.friendsofccl.ms and click the “Support Us For #GivingTuesday” button to make a financial contribution before or on November 28th.  If you are a business owner, another way to give on #GivingTuesday is to set aside a partial amount of your proceeds on Tuesday, November 28th and donate them afterwards! If you partner with Choices Clinic this way, be sure to let others know about Giving Tuesday, about the work that is done at Choices, and why you believe in it.  You can promote the participation of your business via social media and include #GiveLife, which is the specific hashtag that Choices Clinic is using in preparation for #GivingTuesday!

Thank you to all of you who have already chosen to partner with #GivingTuesday and Choices Clinic this holiday season. Through your support, this organization can continue to be the place that it is: a place that provides choices in the midst of helplessness and growth in the midst of hardship.  In their services towards women, children and men, Choices Clinic is helping local families find the strength to blossom throughout our community.  What better way to #GiveLife this holiday season than by giving the gift of choices?


List of businesses participating in #GivingTuesday:

  • Adam Trest (324 N Magnolia St, Laurel, MS 39440)
  • Bumpers (1717 W 10th St, Laurel, MS 39440)
  • Guild and Gentry (321 N Magnolia St, Laurel, MS 39440)
  • Lee’s Coffee + Tea (409 W Oak St, Laurel, MS 39440)
  • Lazy Oak (located in Southern Antiques: 17 Central Ave, Laurel, MS 39440)
  • Baby Booth (located in Southern Antiques)
  • Lavori (located in Southern Antiques)
  • Cottage Books (located in Southern Antiques)
  • Kay Staple’s Booth (located in Southern Antiques)
  • Katie Gustafson’s Zumba Class (located at Curves in Ellisville)
  • Curves of Ellisville (103 E Jessamine St, Ellisville, MS 39437)
  • LoblolliPops (located at Eliza Nicole Boutique and Peddlers Junktion Location)
  • The Craft Room (located in Sawmill Square Mall)
  • PDIs (330 S Magnolia St, Laurel, MS 39440)
  • Deli Diner (801 US-11, Ellisville, MS 39437)
  • Smokehouse BBQ (737 Sawmill Rd, Laurel, MS 39440)