The call came at 11:30 p.m. on a Saturday night. "Miss Cathi," the teenage boy said, "I called you because I really need help. I really want to have sex, but I know I shouldn't."
Cathi Woods recognized his voice and knew the boy was calling from a "good Christian home." He had just returned from a date with his girlfriend and was terrified that their passion was getting out of hand.
"Both of us are Christians," the boy explained, "but we went too far. We didn't sleep together, but I'm worried about next time. You're the only person I can talk to."
Woods quietly walked the boy through an hour of phone counseling. "You know how bad you feel right now?" she asked.
"If you go all the way, you'll feel a hundred times worse."
"I can't imagine feeling any worse than I do now," the young man confessed.
Woods proceeded to lead this young man through a litany of practical, real-life suggestions. By the end of the call, the boy was crying but extremely grateful.
"Thank you, Miss Cathi," he said. "You may have just saved my life."
Cathi Woods was the architect of what Rhea County (Tenn.) High School principal Pat Conner calls "a remarkably effective" abstinence program. In just one year, Rhea County dropped from being number one in teen pregnancies per capita in the state to tenth; during the second year, they dropped from tenth to forty-sixth and then, one year later, to sixty-fourth. Nothing else was done differently either in the school or the community, except for Woods's program. "I was quite surprised at the success," Conner admits. "Normally, one program doesn't have such an impact."
The program was so successful that when the state received federal money under a Title V federal grant, the entire $35,000 made available to Rhea ...1