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Community Highlights: Meet Joanna James of Options Care Center

Today we’d like to introduce you to Joanna James.

Hi Joanna, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
My name is Joanna James, and I am the current Board President of Options Care Center. Our center has operated for fifty years serving the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia communities. While our services have evolved over the years (previously housing and now medical and peer counseling), we have always existed to empower women regarding their reproductive choices and well-being. This ranges from equipping women to understand their bodies and providing peer counseling on healthy relationships to supplying women with accurate information, medical and non, regarding all their options when facing an unplanned pregnancy. Options Care Center is run by young women for young women to provide a safe and non-judgmental place to discuss these challenges facing them. We know firsthand the pressures these women face and feel passionately that they deserve a place, free of charge, to affirm them of their worth and value in our society.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
As with any work that is worthwhile, it is a challenging mission. Most of our clients come from broken homes or cycles of abuse, and the road to enabling them to understand that they are worth more than they have witnessed or experienced in their young lives is not easy. There are no quick fixes, and you cannot simply throw money or resources at a person who has encountered trauma and expect those scars to go away. We know that it will take years, if not a lifetime, of walking alongside these young women to truly make a difference. Thankfully, we are called and equipped to do so and consider it a privilege to witness how lives can change when a woman understands her worth.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Our non-profit is centered on the empowerment of women by educating them regarding their rights and worthy expectations when it comes to relationships and sexual activity. Unlike some alternatives, there is no cost involved with any service at our center, medical or otherwise, because we and our supporters feel that no decision a woman makes should be based out of her fears or perceived limitations. We are proudest of the fact that any client who comes to us becomes part of our family and that we have the opportunity to change their lives forever. Most come to us filled with shame or hurt and we are able to help offer a chance for a bold and hopeful future.

Is there a quality that you most attribute to your success?
Our ability to empathize. None of the challenges facing our clients are one we ourselves haven’t faced, or sometimes even succumbed to, and we are able to bear witness to and embody what being changed through empowerment truly looks like.

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