‘Little Miracles’ Happen At the N.Y. Life Center
by Ed Wilkinson
Fridays are usually quiet days at the New York Life Center in Bay Ridge.
But when we visited recently, it was anything but.
The center, a non-sectarian help place run by Catholics for pregnant women and young mothers, offers pregnancy tests, counseling, support and clothes for babies. It’s a pro-life approach to discouraging abortion by supporting women who question whether or not to give birth.
“There are a lot of little miracles that happen here,” says Laura Sica, the office manager and the only paid full-time employee.
“Every child is a gift from God,” says Sica, who has been at the center for 18 years.
An Hispanic woman rings the bell and is admitted. The first person she sees is Sister Mary Parry, O.P., the volunteer receptionist on Fridays. The woman doesn’t speak English, but a visitor to the office does and she discovers that the woman is looking for a jacket, size four, for her son.
Laura walks to a clothes room and returns with the item, plus a few shirts. The woman is grateful.
It’s not long before a Muslim woman in traditional Arab garb appears. She says she has clothes to return. Her daughter has outgrown them, but they’re hardly used.
The woman is a regular client. “Thank God, I came here,” she says. “Every time I look at my baby daughter, I feel guilty because I was thinking about an abortion. I would have been so lonely.”
The phone rings and a woman with a Spanish accent and broken English asks if there is a car seat available. She’s told there is. She says she’ll come by before the 4 p.m. closing time.
“I try to do whatever I need to do,” says Sister Mary. “I’m against abortion and if this is a place where I can be of service, I will be.
“I also try to represent my sisters well. This is just another way to help people.”
Laura smiles when she sees another young Muslim woman enter with three boys, a three-month-old in a stroller and his two brothers in tow. The older boys immediately are attracted to the toy chest while the mother begins talking to the visitors in the office.
“I’m so glad these people were here. I came to talk them when I got pregnant even though I was using birth control. I didn’t know what to do. Laura told me that the baby was my ‘miracle’ baby and that I should have her. Of course, she was right! It’s a blessing. This is my ‘miracle’ baby,” she explains as she points to the blue-eyed infant in the stroller.
Fred Trabulsi, the volunteer executive director of the center for the past 10 years, says that the operation runs strictly on donations of dollars and clothes. Some parishes run baby showers to stock the clothes rooms. Individuals and groups support the effort through financial donations.
Laura adds, “We count on the Blessed Mother. If she wants us to be here, we’ll be here.”
Trabulsi explains that the staff relies on prayer.
“We pray here every day. We do our chaplet of Divine Mercy at 3 o’clock and we do our Angelus at 12,” he points out.
“If I didn’t pray, I wouldn’t be able to do this,” says Laura.
“We’re just so overjoyed at some of the beautiful stories we have here,” says Trabulsi.
The New York Life Center is located at 6802 Fifth Ave. in Brooklyn. To learn more about it, you can call 718-748-4992.