In January, attention focuses annually on the country’s pro-life movement, marking a cause that is very dear to our hearts here at FYI. In fact, the battle for life is at the very core of what our ministry is all about. When FYI was founded in 1978 by Pat Banaszak and the late Carol Tipton, it was born out of the Clark County Right to Life chapter. We have always believed in honoring and preserving life from conception until death.
“We started as the Tri-County Right To Life Educational Foundation,” recalled Banaszak recently. “We needed an agency to help the young girls who were scared, considering abortion and didn’t know where to go for help.”
Education and advocacy were at the heart of the services our ministry has offered from day one. Early on, we held various pastor breakfasts and seminars at Christian Life Center in Dayton, along with standing with young pregnant women in crisis.
“We covered Clark, Greene and Champaign counties because at the time, they really had nothing like it,” said Banaszak. “We worked with the various churches, and every January we would take four or five busses out to Washington D.C. and participated in the March for Life.” (It will be held Jan. 24 this year.)
President Ronald Reagan started national recognition of the cause by issuing a proclamation that Sunday, Jan. 22, 1984, would be designated as National Sanctity Of Human Life Day. It marked the 11th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe vs. Wade to guarantee women access to abortion. The same proclamation has been issued annually throughout several presidencies designating the Sunday nearest the anniversary date of January 22nd. This year’s day falls on January 19th.
Tri-County’s growth continued through FYI’s formative years. “It broadened because of necessity, women coming in for help because of not being able to get the help they needed elsewhere, like education and services,” said Banaszak. “As the need grew, our organization grew.”
After starting in Springfield, hotlines were added in Fairborn in 1985. “We did a lot of counseling,” Banaszak said. “And we referred them to professional counseling. It saved a lot of girls and a lot of babies.”
In 1990, the pastor of Mary Help Of Christians Catholic Church in Fairborn donated rooms and the pastor at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in New Carlisle gave us a house, and we expanded services. It was all volunteer. We joined a lot of community organizations and pastors during the years to come.
Called the Moses Project at the beginning, our ministry to young women and their children was renamed The Women’s Network in 1980. In 2015, it became The Parenting Network. By then, our overall organization had grown and was called FYI, and the Women’s/Parenting Network became the core among many different programs.
“We started serving more men along with the women, and that necessitated another name change,” said Banaszak. “To this day, it remains the core program at FYI. Every program springs off of that and fits into our mission statement.”
Co-leader Nikki Stefanow looked ahead to our future. “It’s not just about saving someone’s physical life, we want to address them physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually,” she said. “We’re giving them hope for life in a better way than what they are currently experiencing.
“Eli Williams (CEO and founder of local Urban Light Ministries) said it so well: It’s not that families are falling apart, they are failing to form,” Stefanow continued. “Lives are crumbling and dying because they don’t have hope. They have people leading them who haven’t received unconditional love or had stability themselves. One caring person can make all the difference. We’re passionate about seeing lives changed no matter what stage of life they are in. It goes far beyond saving the babies from abortion.
Banaszak and Stefanow are excited about the impact FYI is making. “I know we are making a difference in each life we encounter,” said Stefanow. “I know our people are touching the hearts and minds of these parents, youth and children, connecting with them heart to heart. It’s all about personal contact. We take the time and give them the listening ear and encouragement that they need. We’re building relationships with them, showing them we care, and instilling hope. When you have hope, your life changes, and you can do anything.”