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Sidewalk Ministry Is ‘making a Difference’ in the Pro-life Arena

By Maria Servold | Photography By Rey Del Rio | March 2022

Sidewalk Ministry Is ‘making a Difference’ in the Pro-life Arena

Outside a Planned Parenthood facility in Ann Arbor, compassionate men and women gather five days a week. Their mission: to reach out to those entering the facility and present them with alternative, life-affirming choices.

Kathy Dobrowolski, a parishioner at St. Andrew the Apostle in Saline, and her husband, Paul, lead the Ann Arbor location of Sidewalk Advocates for Life (SAFL).

SAFL locations are key players in the fight to save babies from being aborted in Michigan.

“Our advocates are on the sidewalk outside of Planned Parenthood to be the hands and feet of Christ reaching out to those going into the facilities, trying to show them how much we care and offering loving, life-affirming alternatives to abortion,” Kathy says.

The director of fertility and life ministries for the Diocese of Lansing, Jenny Ingles, says that DSA dollars are used for Sidewalk Advocates for Life training and materials.

Kathy elaborates, saying DSA funds, which SAFL has received since 2017, help cover many costs SAFL incurs, including a yearly registration fee, materials for advocate training sessions, literature used during sidewalk advocacy, gift bags for women contact outside of clinics, signs, vests, and community outreach efforts.

“Words cannot express how grateful we are, because we don’t have a major source of funding for what we do,” she says. “What we’ve been able to do with the money – we never could have done without funding from the diocese.”

The national organization of Sidewalk Advocates for Life, which was founded in 2014, trains, equips and supports SAFL site locations across the U.S. and the world in sidewalk advocacy. SAFL location volunteers spend time outside 220 abortion facilities, making contact with women and men before and after they go into the facilities. They provide them with information about alternative places to obtain pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, material goods, other health care and a host of other resources while advocating for the life of their unborn baby.

“Our focus is woman first, then baby, then God,” Kathy says. “We try and reach the heart of a woman so she can trust us and trust that we’re here to help her in her situation.”

While she and her husband have always been pro-life, Dobrowolski says they became even more so when one of their sons, Daniel, was born with Hunter syndrome, a rare, genetic, degenerative disease. “His life really helped us to focus on how much of a special blessing he was, and the respect that should be shown for every human life.”

Shortly after National SAFL began in 2014, the Dobrowolskis started the Ann Arbor location. The two also serve as the pro-life couple for their parish’s Knights of Columbus council, and Kathy serves as coordinator for the pro-life ministry at St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Saline.

They are always actively looking for more people to go through the training and become sidewalk advocates. Currently, advocates are able to be present on the sidewalk outside the Planned Parenthood facility for about four hours each day, covering 50 percent of the hours the facility is open.

“We’re also doing more outreach and publicity to educate the community about the purpose of SAFL and our need to recruit more advocates,” she says. “The more hours we can cover when the abortions are going on, the better chance we have of saving babies, saving moms from the trauma of abortion and ultimately ending abortion.”

Nationally, Kathy says, SAFL has saved more than 16,000 babies, helped 80 abortion workers leave the industry and closed 29 abortion facilities.

At the Ann Arbor location, SAFL has been involved in many saves, including 19 babies saved during the COVID lockdowns in 2020, she says. One of these saves included a young woman who was pregnant with twins who drove to the Ann Arbor facility from Lansing. After speaking with the advocates before entering Planned Parenthood, the woman and her mother later decided to keep the babies.

While many times the advocates are unable to know if their efforts help change a woman’s mind and save a baby, Kathy says they simply pray they can plant a seed.

“We have heard pregnancy centers tell us ‘you are making a difference.’ We are seeing fruit from the ministry, and we couldn’t do it without DSA funding. We are very, very grateful.”


Sidewalk Advocates for Life

Mission Statement: “To train, equip, and support communities across the United States and the world in sidewalk advocacy: to be the hands and feet of Christ, offering loving, life-affirming alternatives to all present at abortion facilities, thereby eliminating demand and ending abortion.”

For more information, visit sidewalkadvocates.org or email Paul and Kathy Dobrowolski at saflannarbor@gmail.com.