“It’s not just a passion because there is a sacrifice involved, but it’s not just a service because there is so much joy that comes from it,” said Kristyn Rygh, a senior nursing student who volunteered four semesters at Piedmont Women’s Center, a local non-profit that offers pregnancy services, health services and child loss support.
Growing up, Rygh knew of women from her church who got involved at a local pregnancy resource center. “I would see a table at church with all the baby bottles and cute baby clothes. I remember asking my mom if there was some way I could help, too. She said that I was too young, but maybe one day when I was older.”
Her sophomore year at BJU, Rygh got her chance. “One day in anatomy and physiology, Dr. (Marc) Chetta talked about Piedmont Women’s Center,” she said. “I felt like my heart was on fire, and I emailed them right after class.”
From the spring semester of her sophomore year until the start of her practicum this semester, she volunteered at the PWC call center in Greer every Tuesday.
Answering Calls for Help
At the call center, Rygh addressed a variety of needs, including scheduling ultrasound appointments and giving homeless women referrals. “The call center is the center of the bicycle wheel, so I had to learn how to interpret what the person’s needs were, which service we provide that best helps them, and give them the helpful information or transfer them to the right person, if necessary,” she said.
At first, Rygh, who felt uncomfortable talking to anyone on the phone, found the task daunting. “You never know what the other person on the phone is calling to ask,” she said. “I was nervous that I wouldn’t know the right answer, I would stumble over my words, or say the wrong thing.”
However, with prayer and practice, she overcame her phone anxiety. She also improved her ability to interact with people of different backgrounds.
Rygh soon loved the job. “Even when I would have a busy day or a test in the next hour, I was always so glad I came,” she said. “The sacrifice of not studying was always worth it because I felt the joy of being able to serve God and women in crisis situations.”
Nursing and Volunteering as Complements
To Rygh, nursing training prepared her to help at the center. She said she learned in school how to ask the right questions, focus on individuals as she helped them and calmly communicate to patients in crisis.
On the other hand, volunteering at the center reinforced nursing skills, such as listening, communicating and empathizing. “It challenged my multitasking and ability to move from one client to the next,” Rygh added. “I could have just had a hard call where someone’s life circumstances were causing them to choose abortion and then immediately a new client would call. I had to learn to compartmentalize and move on to the next client to best serve them. As a nurse, I will constantly be having to compartmentalize and switch from one patient to the next.”
Benefit from Working with Others
Rygh also benefited from working alongside other volunteers. “It was awesome being surrounded by like-minded women in all different stages of life,” she said. “The other women were so kind, and it was evident they loved the Lord. They have showed me that it is possible to volunteer, have a full-time job and still love the Lord while being a good wife and mother.”
Through a shared passion, she also became friends with other BJU students who volunteered at Piedmont Women’s Center.
A Changed Perspective
Rygh said she used to look down on women who chose to take their baby’s life. But many phone calls taught her that, while she could not excuse their choice, she should have compassion for them instead. “After hearing some heartbreaking situations, you realize that most of them do not want to abort their baby, but they feel like they must,” she said. “Often there are family members or a boyfriend who is pressuring them into these situations, or they do not have the resources to provide financially.”
Helping those women reminded Rygh that women in local churches might have similar circumstances. “Many secret abortions that happen in the church … never become known because of the shame associated,” she said.
Overall, Rygh realized the universal benefit and necessity of helping at a place like Piedmont Women’s Center. “I would recommend volunteering to everyone,” Rygh said. “It is not only so beneficial for you as a person, but you can also make an impact in other people’s lives. There are so many places that need people to volunteer time so that they can change lives. PWC is saving lives every day.”
Many BJU students supported the pro-life movement for the 2020 Bible Conference fundraiser. Read more articles about how they impacted the Carolina Pregnancy Center in Spartanburg, South Carolina.