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Making an Impact With Laugh for Life Benefit

Feb 26, 2016 05:35PM ● By Ronda Alvey

More Than a Good Laugh

March 2016
By Jordan Venema

The Care Pregnancy Resource Center’s 17th annual Laugh for Life Event promises to be, as the name suggests, a night full of both laughter and life.

Jessica Warkentin, development director at the Care Pregnancy Resource Center, describes the event as “a full comedy show and catered dinner,” but when an event outgrows its 400-seat venue, one must assume there’s a lot more offered in that small descriptor. Warkentin says with a laugh, “Yeah, we were getting to the point that we had outgrown the Holiday Inn, where we had held it for the past several years.” Now that they’ve moved the show to Visalia First, they expect to host upwards of 700 guests.

This year, the Resource Center has invited performer John Crist – “a clean comedian,” says Warkentin, known for his bit poking fun at the imagined and exaggerated dating rules tied to the Christian Mingle website. 

While Laugh for Life promises to be a lighthearted event, its purpose is serious – to continue the Resource Center’s ability to care for local women who find themselves in pregnancy crises.

“A crisis pregnancy can happen to anybody,” explains Brenda Fernandes, the center’s executive director. “We’re just here to serve whoever needs our services.”

Since it was established in 1983, the scope of the center has grown to include everything from pregnancy tests to counseling, as well as incentive-based parenting classes that allow its students to exchange credits for baby items, like clothes and car seats. 

“We are here because we care about women,” says Fernandes. “They need to have all their options so they can make an informed decision.”

The Care Pregnancy Resource Center is a faith-based nonprofit that offers women information on the options besides abortion, like adoption. “Even though we’re religious,  we consider ourselves a life-affirming organization and we’re here to affirm life and not debate the politics,” Fernandes says. The Resource Center is there to help women through whatever decision they make, she says.

The Laugh for Life event will also be a way for people to learn more about the center. “We will be highlighting one of our clients who is using our services,” says Warkentin. “And we believe that if we show who we are and what we do, people will want to partner with us,” adds Fernandes.

Last year’s event helped the center raise about $30,000, which helped keep the center open and free to people who need its services. Warkentin hopes this year’s event will bring about $40,000, which could help the center to increase its medical scope of services to potentially include testing for sexually transmitted infections. “It’s what keeps us going,” she says, “and if we didn’t have this banquet we wouldn’t be the center that we are.”

The Laugh for Life event will offer attendees an opportunity to offer donations of either money or time, but even without a donation, the event remains free – a full comedy show and dinner, catered by Fugazzi’s. Warkentin only asks people to RSVP through the center’s website.

“Bottom line, it’s going to be fun,” says Warkentin. “You’re going to find out about the heart of the ministry, and what we’re here for and why we exist. Just come and enjoy a night with your friends, and it’s free.” And that, she assures, is no joke. 

17th Annual Laugh for Life • March 31, 6-8 pm

Visalia First Assembly Church • 3737 S. Akers St., Visalia

Care Pregnancy Resource Center  • 1710 W. Walnut Ave., Visalia 

Monday-Thursday 10-4pm • (559) 625-5550