Few people understand the many twists and turns a life can take as well as Peter Castellani.
Decades ago, he embarked on several years of military service. His next step led to more than 30 years of seemingly stable work as a financial planner with IBM. Then, out of nowhere, a round of layoffs in 2009 left him looking for his next step.
Like many people who have felt the recession’s wrath, he was devastated—but only for a few days.
“It was a tough thing,” Castellani said. “But God had other plans for me.”
Castellani, who is deeply religious, said it was a vision— a message from God, really— that brought him to his current line of work as founder and director of Oasis Pregnancy Center, 3632 Land O’ Lakes Blvd.
It’s a place where women who are pregnant— or think they might be— can seek counseling, aid, and even ultrasounds, all free of charge. With a little help and donations from individuals and local religious organizations, what started as a “vision” evolved into a thriving, volunteer-powered nonprofit organization that recently reached a significant milestone: 1,000 clients served in Pasco County since opening its doors in October 2009.
Religion aside, it’s a fitting gig for someone who well understands the ups, downs and pure uncertainties life can bring about.
This is the kind of place a low-income mother-to-be can go if she needs a hand in planning for the path ahead of her.
The center has “pretty much everything a woman needs to raise that baby,” Castellani said.
The offerings range from diapers to life skills courses to Bible study. One of the center’s key aims is to dissuade women from terminating their pregnancies, Castellani said. Oasis also help families navigate Medicaid paperwork and come up with adoption plans.
The center complements the work of the State Department of Health and the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) federal nutrition program, Castellani said.
The center has a very small administrative staff, and volunteers do a lot of the heavy lifting. A sonographer provides limited ultrasounds, and an off-site physician is available to view the images.
Clients can choose the services they want, and can choose to leave religion out of the equation, Castellani said. Oasis has seen clients from a wide variety of religious backgrounds, he said.
“We are a pro-life agency,” Castellani said, but “we don’t force anything on anybody. Everything is up to the client. A lot of people just need direction in their lives.”
Oasis is open for appointments Monday through Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Need help? You can reach someone 24 hours a day at 813-406-4965.
To volunteer, make a donation or for information visit the Oasis website or call 813-406-4965.