TRAVERSE CITY — Former Traverse City resident Scott Blanchard committed to give more than $50,000 to Planned Parenthood of West and Northern Michigan.
Blanchard has a personal connection to the group, having served as former executive director/CEO of Planned Parenthood Northern Michigan with clinics in Traverse City, Petoskey and Marquette. He was employed from 1984 until 2004, when he and his wife moved back to the state of Washington to be near family members.
In 2011 Blanchard became ill with what he describes as, “Some rare, brain-stem autoimmune thing.” This past June, after two years of treatment he decided to spend his remaining days at home with his dogs and wife, Alice Clayton, who worked at the Petoskey and Traverse City clinics as a nurse practitioner.
“This was then and is now a cause that is very near and dear to my heart,” Blanchard said in a phone interview. “Working there was the high point of my life.”
Blanchard said he is proud that the clinics served the most disenfranchised — often young, single women working full-time jobs or part-time jobs with little or no health insurance.
“We gave them a place to turn to when they had nowhere else to go,” he said.
Before the Planned Parenthood clinic was opened in Marquette, birth control was secretive; women knew by word of mouth the name of a nurse who could provide confidential pregnancy testing and birth control information, he said.
“If they had a pregnancy scare, they would knock on her door in the middle of the night,” he said.
The nurse would do a pregnancy test in her kitchen and take time to talk, he said.
“It was the germinating seed of Planned Parenthood. Now there is a network of clinics. Women will never have to do that again,” he said. “People can come for compassion and care with their heads held high.”
Blanchard, 56, said it feels great to give back to the organization and the people who he came to regard as family.
The evolution of the clinics into Planned Parenthood of West and Northern Michigan is particularly gratifying, he said.
“What a thing to experience in my lifetime and the good that’s been done,” he said.