Supporters gather at Planned Parenthood in Casper, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016.

Supporters gather at Planned Parenthood in Casper, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016.

Casper residents gathered at Planned Parenthood in Casper, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016 in a show of appreciation for the organization.

According to Grace Niemitalo, event organizer, approximately 25 people, both men and women, attended the gathering to show support for an organization often targeted by protesters in Casper.

“A friend and I were discussing the protests and we thought: ‘how can we show Planned Parenthood they’re appreciated,” said Niemitalo. “At first we just thought about sending flowers and a gift basket, but we knew there had to be more people who support it than just us.”

Event organizers were concerned that the community might not know just how much Planned Parenthood does both locally and nationally for residents who don’t have insurance or have insurance with little coverage.

Planned Parenthood provides breast screenings, STD tests and Cervical Cancer screenings, said Niemitalo.b89a3274

“They don’t even provide abortion services at this location,” she said. But one thing they do provide, that Niemitalo emphasized, are sexual health and reproductive health education, a resource for parents who struggle with talking to their children about sex.

In 2014, the most recent reported year on their website, Planned Parenthood provided 4.2 million STI/STD related services to include approximately 652k HIV testing services for both women and men, 2.9 million contraceptives for both sexes, 682k cancer screenings and prevention services, and approximately 324k abortion services nationally.

The organization also works to promote sexual health and education internationally in 12 developing countries, according to the Planned Parenthood website.

The Planned Parenthood Appreciation Gathering surprised, but reassured Niemitalo that there’s more support for the organization in the community than she originally thought, she said.

b89a3263“I thought it would just be me and my friends out there, but it was really well received,” she said. Lot’s of people showed up to hold signs. Lots of people honked. There wasn’t much friction from the community, which I think highlights the fact that many people understand the value of Planned Parenthood.

“We want Planned Parenthood to know that we do appreciate what they do for us and that we will stand with them in the current political climate,” said Niemitalo.

West Winds Magazine attempted to contact Planned Parenthood for comment, but were unable to reach a representative of the organization.

If you would like to learn more about Planned Parenthood in Casper visit: https://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-center/wyoming/casper/82604/casper-2481-90210?utm_campaign=casper-health-center&utm_medium=organic&utm_source=local-listing

Kristin Schaeffer