She may sit silently in a carpool, classroom, dormitory, or restaurant. Maybe she is checking your groceries, baby sitting, or cleaning your house. She may even sit next to you in church on Sunday. What if a friend or a friend of one of your children came to you with devastating news of an unplanned pregnancy? Would you be equipped to guide her to the right resources concerning her pregnancy and her choices?
The number of unplanned pregnancies is high among teenagers and in areas of low-income populations, but it is also high among both single- and marriedwomen over 35. While the total number of unplanned pregnancies seems to be diminishing, the percentage still remains high among teenagers. According to 2006 Guttmacher Institute statistics, Alabama is ranked 16th in the U.S. in teen pregnancies with 11,430.
“A number of resources are available for individuals and families facing unplanned pregnancies,” says Hayden First Baptist pastor Jeremy Powell, “but the nearest pregnancy center is more than 25 miles away or outside the county.” Until now.
The church has been working with Blount County Sav-A-Life to open its doors Sept. 13 to Blount County Sav-ALife Women’s Resource Center in Hayden and hopes to extend its services into surrounding counties.
This center is the first expansion of the nonprofit Blount County Sav-A-Life Pregnancy Test and Women’s Resource Center in Oneonta, which ministers to women with unplanned pregnancies and their families. Supporters say both centers offer compassionate support, factual information, and positive alternatives to women facing crisis pregnancies.
“The Blount County Sav-A-Life ministry believes that all life is sacred and strives to support families and individuals by offering pregnancy tests, counseling, abortion alternatives, prenatal classes, agency referrals, and Bible studies, and it works with local schools to create abstinence programs,” said Oneonta center executive director Kathy Lacks. “It is our goal to make a difference in these young ladies’ lives. We want them to know that both lives, theirs and their babies’, are precious to us.
“We also have a special program called Helping Hands, where pregnant women can earn items for their babies during pregnancy,” Lacks explained. Mothers can earn points when they participate in Biblical studies and life-skill training, not only at the Blount County centers and First Baptist of Hayden, but also in surrounding churches. “Mothers who take the classes earn ‘Mommy Money’ that allows them to shop in the Helping Hands closet, which is filled with a variety of baby supplies,” Lacks continues.
Lacks, who has been with the Oneonta center for 5 years, said many women were coming from across and outside the county. She said that this displayed a need for a center in other areas of the county including west Blount. She spoke with Powell this past spring about the issue and a prospective facility in Hayden, where she found that he, too, recognized the need for adequate crisis pregnancy resources for the community.
With the support of his church, Powell responded to Lacks’s invitation to open the center in Hayden. Powell gathered a group who shared this vision, and a board of directors was formed to start the process of opening the center in early fall.
Sixteen volunteer church members, who agree the center is a ministry that will help new mothers, have arranged the site. James and Judy Partain, along with Jim Lawlar, were all working together at the center on Thursday.
Powell believes that the center will help women prepare for motherhood with faith and guidance.
“Our main goal is when these clients come into the center, we want to share with them the love of Jesus Christ and extend the grace of Christ,” Powell said. “Our goal is to share with individuals that there are alternatives to abortion. We are here to help counsel their emotional and spiritual needs while meeting their physical needs as well.”
On Sept. 12 from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., the community is invited to an open house and baby shower at the center, which is located at the Reid house beside First Baptist of Hayden, 5080 Ala 160. Powell said donations for the Helping Hands closet are welcome, especially baby-care necessities (baby wipes, shampoo, wash, lotion, diaper-rash cream), bath tubs, beds and mattresses, new car seats, diapers, diaper bags, high chairs, play yards, maternity and newborn clothing (preemie – 24 months).
Starting Sept. 13 the center will be open on Mondays from 12 noon to 5 p.m. and during the week by appointment. The center’s phone number is 647-1700. The programs and nonprofit women’s resource center is supported by donations by families, churches, and businesses. For more information about Blount County Sav-ALife, visit www.bcsal.com.