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Choose Life license plates reach goal

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After a nine year journey, the Choose Life license plates reached their destination this summer. In August, the plates cruised past the goal of 3,000 on Massachusetts highways.

But Merry Nordeen, who championed the Choose Life license plates, does not have her eye on the rearview mirror. Her focus is on the road ahead. She and the Choose Life board members have nearly $100,000 to distribute to local crisis pregnancy centers.

That money had been saved up to replace the $100,000 bond, put up by an anonymous donor. The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles holds the bond until a total of 3,000 vanity plates are registered. Last month, the registry announced that Choose Life had 3,054 plates and that they would release the bond.

Over the past two years, the plates raised over $170,000, and 3,000 plates will bring in $60,000 annually.

In the past, Choose Life has funded Massachusetts Citizens for Life's Summer Academy for high school students and provided a matching grant for Boston's Walk to Aid Mothers and Children, previously held every October. The organization has also granted money to pregnancy resource centers and provided funds to their counselors and directors to attend training sessions.

"These centers, a lot of them, are in dire need of services, just basic services. But once they get the basic services, we can go into helping them hopefully go medical -- getting the ultrasound machines, hiring the medical personnel that's necessary for the sonogram machines. It just keeps going from there. The work is by no means done," Nordeen said.

Joanne Everson, executive director of Your Life Matters Pregnancy Health Center in Southbridge, Mass., said that Choose Life helped keep the center's doors open with a grant last December. In the middle of a move to a new location, the center encountered some unexpected expenses.

"I was sitting in my office one day, thinking, 'This is the day Joanne closed Your Life Pregnancy Center,' and I felt God nudging me to call Choose Life," she said. Choose Life responded with a grant.

Everson added, "It's just money, but you need to have it. It's vital. You can't do ministry without it, and to be able to have someone that I can turn to and say, 'Oh help, please.' And to be able to bless us that way was such a fantastic, unexpected and awesome blessing."

Choose Life also funded Everson's trip to a conference in Los Angeles last spring and training for the center's volunteers.

Melissa Flynn, a former director of a crisis pregnancy center and a current training coordinator, said speakers at the trainings have decades of experience in pro-life work. They are able to give the crisis pregnancy staff and volunteers knowledge they have gained.

"The Choose Life license plate is a tremendous blessing to Massachusetts pregnancy centers and those that benefit from the trainings," she said.

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