APPLETON — Diapers, stacked according to size, fit perfectly into the wall shelving unit located in the lower level of the new home of Vida Inc. The structure appears as if it was made specifically for this use, but the unit was actually repurposed: it once held dress shirts in a men’s clothing store.
“We think it was made for us. They just didn’t know it,” said Anne Tretinyak, Vida executive director.
Vida Medical Clinic and Support Services moved from its former location at 526 Wisconsin Ave. to its new space at 720 Association Drive in Appleton. A fundraising open house and dinner was held on May 20. The new building, previously a branch campus for Marian University in Fond du Lac, has 15,000 square feet of space compared to 6,000 square feet at their previous location.
Vida, formerly Fox Valley Mother and Unborn Care, has provided free services to pregnant women and their children for nearly 38 years. Vida Medical Clinic, formerly WomanKind Medical Clinic, opened in 2007 to offer pregnancy testing, referrals for prenatal care, ultrasounds, Pap, pelvic and breast exams, and STD testing and treatment for women and men. In 2019, pre-pandemic, the medical clinic provided 1,169 services.
The new space will provide for a greater service impact, said Tretinyak.
“It gives us the opportunity to look at services and service delivery,” she said. “For example, adding the opportunity for men, for dads, to receive mentoring. If you don’t have the space, you are limited. We just added men before we moved. We had one room. Now, with these five rooms, we can have five mentors meeting with clients at one time. We are looking at programming. The needs are greater and different. We have to be mindful of that. We want to step it up.”
The medical clinic is located in the upper level of the building. It includes exam and education rooms, administrative offices, a lab, breakroom, boardroom and two ultrasound rooms. One ultrasound machine was donated by Knights of Columbus Council #7895 Msgr. Gehl Council of SS. Peter and Paul Parish in Hortonville, St. Denis Parish in Shiocton and St. Patrick Parish in Stephensville.
The lower level houses support services. Separate spaces allow for improved privacy for clients, said Tretinyak.
“Historically, in the pro-life movement, medical services and support services have been woven together,” she said. “In an exam room you may have a volunteer who is there to advocate, to provide that support if there is a confirmed pregnancy. At Vida, because of HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and other laws, we’ve pulled those pieces apart. When that exam is complete, they would leave the clinic space and support services would continue in a different part of the building. It protects the patient’s health information and is also respectful to them.”
Parenting education is among the support services offered. Vida walks with mothers through pregnancy into parenting, early infancy and into the toddler years.
“On average, we work with our clients for around two years,” said Tretinyak. “We offer lactation consultation, answer labor and delivery questions, what to expect when they bring the baby home, goal setting for relationships, finances and connecting to resources in the community. Advocacy covers a whole bunch of areas.”
In addition to mentoring rooms, the Support Services space features a child care area, a Spanish instruction room and the Little Dear Boutique, which provides clothing, hygiene products and other needs for babies and infants. Clients can earn credit while working in Vida education programs which can be used in the boutique.
“If moms are in need, we share what they need (even if they have yet to earn credit),” said Tretinyak. “We have women who come to us who need things right away. We share products with clients of other nonprofit organizations.”
A senior ministry is a part of Vida. Women and men, many of them retirees, help sort donations.
“Moms are thrilled to come in here and shop,” said Tretinyak about the boutique. “We try to make sure we have new or very gently used things for moms and dads. We want to reward them and affirm their dignity because they’ve worked hard. They’ve done something to make their lives better for themselves and their children.”
A mural with trees and wildlife on the large wall in the Little Dear Boutique was created by artist Sharon Kuplack. Her artwork is found throughout both levels.
“She donated her time,” said Tretinyak. “She spent countless hours working here. It ties the whole building together. We owe her a debt of gratitude.”
Appreciation also extends to Vida’s church partners, including 30 Catholic parishes in the Diocese of Green Bay, that provide support through prayer, promotion of services, referrals and financial contributions. Vida operates entirely on financial support from sponsorships, donors and fundraisers.
“Sixty percent comes from events, but it’s also people writing out a check and putting it in the mail,” said Tretinyak. “I received an envelope with 10 $100 bills without a name. There was a check for $5,000 from someone who wanted to stay anonymous. We are so blessed.”
For Tretinyak, who started with Vida in January 2020, the mission to help parents and children in need is personal. She is an attorney and the mother of seven, including two adopted children.
“I worked with a nonprofit organization and developed a legal services program,” she said. “I represented battered women and children. I married my law career with the nonprofit world.
“We need to walk alongside people, so they don’t have to make a difficult decision or we can support them to make that decision for adoption,” she added. “We need to let people know that they can do this. We can do it together. No one should have to make a decision out of fear or for the lack of support and resources they need.”
To support Vida Medical Clinic and Support Services or for more information, visit vidamedicaclinic.org.