When Peter Castellani lost his corporate position at IBM, little did he know that his journey would lead him to open a safe haven for expecting mothers.
Oasis Pregnancy Care Centers is that organization, providing women with free services, including pregnancy testing and baby supplies.
This year marks the nonprofit’s 10th anniversary in serving Tampa Bay, and it wants the community to join the celebration.
To commemorate its decade of operations, the agency is hosting a fundraiser at Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, on Sept. 19.
The pregnancy care organization may be celebrating a milestone anniversary, but Castellani was an advocate for prenatal assistance long before Oasis opened on Oct. 1, 2009.
“I’ve been involved in the pregnancy care center movement for 20 years,” the executive director said.
He and his wife, Ellen, were church liaisons who were actively involved with Walk for Life and other pro-life organizations back in New York.
When the couple moved to Florida in 1999, they continued their support at A Woman’s Place Medical Clinic, where Castellani served on the board.
Then, he began serving the Pregnancy Care Center of Zephyrhills, eventually becoming president.
When Castellani was laid off after a 30-year career at IBM, it seemed like a sudden shift for the worst — until he realized it was an opportunity to expand his ministry.
He distinctly recalls that several days after his layoff, while still reeling with grief, he awoke to experience what he describes as a clear directive from God.
His new objective became a quest to build a pregnancy center in Land O’ Lakes, close to the high schools.
“Tears just started running down my face, because I never had a direct vision like that before,” said Castellani, who is Christian.
Coincidentally — or maybe not — the first Oasis branch opened nine months later, in Land O’ Lakes.
The center was opened with the support of Pastor Elbert Nasworthy, his Myrtle Lake Baptist Church and the community, Castellani said.
Now, Oasis has locations in Wesley Chapel and Tampa. It has 15 staff members and over 80 volunteers.
It also has helped thousands of families through the years, including 450 during the first seven months of this year, according to Castellani.
He attributes the organization’s success to its cohesive work team, that is both business- and ministry-oriented.
The women who come to the centers can receive various types of assistance. The information they provide remains confidential.
They can undergo testing to confirm if they’re pregnant.
Ultrasound screenings are available to let expecting mothers check on their baby’s status.
Counseling sessions are available, too.
The women and their partners also can watch educational videos that provide pointers on parenting techniques.
Dealing with an unplanned pregnancy can be difficult for many women.
“You have women that come in and they are totally devastated,” Castellani said. “Counseling with them for a couple hours, you see a miraculous change. They leave here with hope and a future.”
Oasis’ services are provided for free.
Although, as women continue receiving Oasis services, they are granted coupons, which they can exchange for supplies in the Baby Boutique room. This transaction encourages the women to remain in the program.
Castellani reasoned: “It gives them dignity and respect. Even though it’s free, they’re earning it. It’s not just a hand-away.”
At the Baby Boutique, an array of items can be found, such as diapers, maternity and infant clothing, and portable baby seats – to name a few.
Oasis is able to provide its services and provide giveaways because of funding it receives from local churches, businesses and the state.
The organization also hosts three annual fundraisers: a clay shoot event, a golf tournament and a banquet.
As a Christian, nondenominational establishment, Oasis encourages mothers to see their pregnancies through to birth. They also refer them to local churches as additional support networks.
The organization helps mothers from various age groups, too.
Castellani dispelled a common stereotype: “It’s not always teenagers – that’s only about 20 percent. Most of our women that come in are college and career-aged women.”
And, for those who may face financial difficulties, Oasis helps them sign up for government assistance, such as the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program and Medicaid.
One of Oasis’ future endeavors is to bring more education to Pasco County schools, encouraging students to remain abstinent until marriage.
The fundraising celebration at Idlewild Baptist Church, 18333 Exciting Idlewild Blvd., will help propel these initiatives forward.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m., followed by live performances, catered food by Carrabba’s Italian Grill, and guest speaker RV Brown.
While there are no costs to attend the event, the organization is encouraging those present, to offer a generous donation to support the cause.
Those planning to attend are asked to R.S.V.P at bit.ly/OasisCelebration2019.
To volunteer or donate to Oasis, visit HeartsForOasis.org.
For additional information or services about Oasis, call (813) 406-4965, or visit OasisPregnancyCenter.org.
Oasis 10th anniversary fundraiser
Where: Idlewild Baptist Church, 18333 Exciting Idlewild Blvd., in Lutz
When: Sept. 19; doors open at 5:30 p.m.
Details: To celebrate 10 years of service, Oasis Pregnancy Care Centers will host a fundraising event with radio personality Mason Dixon as the emcee. Evangelist RV Brown will be the night’s guest speaker and attendees can enjoy a dish catered by Carrabba’s Italian Grill.
Info: Attendees are encouraged to RSVP online at bit.ly/OasisCelebration2019. Online donations can be sent through HeartsForOasis.org, and for further information, call (813) 406-4965.
Published September 11, 2019