By Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
Mary Reuter of Sauk Centre has been married to Ken Reuter for 45 years, gave birth to six children and is now delighting in 16 grandchidren. Although there are many meaningful moments in all those family events, Reuter looks back at another landmark moment that influenced the direction of her life.
In 1973, when she was pregnant with her third child and almost miscarried, the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision legalized abortion in the United States.
“I almost lost my daughter,” Reuter said, “and I remember that it bothered me a lot that someone could purposely destroy their baby.”
Shortly after that, Reuter began her lifelong involvement in the Sauk Centre chapter of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL).
She assumed several different roles within the chapter over the years, coordinating fundraisers, developing community awareness and educating herself.
“I learned as I went,” she said.
The very active chapter now has about 300 members.
The first MCCL March for Life took place Jan. 22, 1974, at the state capitol in St. Paul. The march has been held every year since, and Reuter participated in all but the past two of those marches. She organized the bus taking participants from Sauk Centre for about 10 of those years.
Reuter, who with her husband, actively farms 520 acres in several different locations south of Sauk Centre, found that her biggest personal challenge was balancing time between her family, the farm and volunteering.
In 2003, when her youngest daughter graduated from college, Reuter had prayed for a “challenge” now that she had an empty nest.
“Then I was called on to be president of the pregnancy center, just cold turkey,” she said.
Reuter was appointed in December 2003, and the center opened for business in April 2004.
Options for Women is now the name of the pregnancy center in Sauk Centre, formerly called Central Minnesota Life-care Center.
Reuter received training at several weekend seminars in St. Paul, and “lots of on-the-job training,” she said. “We stayed at an established Minneapolis pregnancy center during training. The need was very eye-opening.”
The center maintains strict confidentiality. Services there include providing information and building self-esteem.
Thanks to the efforts of dedicated volunteers, the center is also able to perform ultrasounds.
During her five years as president of the center, Reuter developed a program called “Earn While You Learn.”
“Expectant moms earn points to purchase baby items while learning about child development, child care and other parenting skills,” Reuter said. “They turn the points in to buy products in our baby store. They’re not getting something for nothing — they earn it.”
The items include clothing (both new and donated) in addition to diapers, baby equipment and nursery furniture.
Dads are very welcome to attend the classes too.
“Local churches often host ‘Baby Jesus’ showers, and we receive a lot of clothes through that,” she said.
“The pregnancy center is not religious-based,” Reuter said, although the volunteers are active in their faith. She pointed out that morality isn’t even about religion, “it’s about controlling your body.”
After her term as president was completed in 2009, and she took on other volunteer duties, Reuter was called back for three months in 2012, to be interim director.
“Now I’m a volunteer lay counselor once a week,” she said. “The girls are not judged. It’s so important to help them grow in their self-esteem.”
Options for Women’s ninth annual Evening for Life will be Friday, Sept. 27 at the American Legion in Melrose. There will be a speaker, dinner, live and silent auctions, and a DJ. Social hour begins at 6 p.m. with dinner at 7 p.m.
All funds raised at the event go to support Options for Women.
Reuter emphasized that she has not worked alone.
“Looking back, there is great satisfaction in knowing I’ve helped,” said Reuter. “It’s very deeply satisfying for an abortion-minded woman to change her mind.”
Options for Women is located at 1225 Timberlane Drive, in the same building as the former Gerard’s.
For more information, call Options for Women at (320) 351-4025 or MCCL at (320) 352-2671.