One pregnancy center closes; another will open

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While one pregnancy care center is closing, another one is positioned to open in its place.

The local Elizabeth’s Hope Pregnancy Resources center will see clients through July 24 and close on July 31. Established in Madison County in 2003, the center is located at 42 W. First St. in London.

“The board felt that there hasn’t been enough volunteers and local input in the center to keep it open,” said Linda Lehman, who has served as the London center’s director since February. She works part-time and is the only paid staff person.

Elizabeth’s Hope is a regional group of centers affiliated with Carenet, a national network of pregnancy care facilities financially supported by local churches and fundraisers. Besides the London site, Elizabeth’s Hope operates centers in Circleville, Chillicothe and Waverly. The headquarters is in Circleville.

“I think London is too far removed from headquarters. Meetings and trainings are in Circleville, an hour away, which probably effected the level of local support,” Lehman said.

Elizabeth’s Hope centers offer services to women and families who are facing unexpected pregnancies. The services include free pregnancy tests, peer counseling, prayer support, clothes for the mother and baby, and programs like MOMS that enhance parenting skills. The organization also offers abstinence pro-grams for schools and other entities.

For more information on the London center’s closing or the other Elizabeth’s Hope locations, call 740-852-9150 this week.

New Center in London

After learning that Elizabeth’s Hope was closing its London location, a group of concerned Madison County citizens met July 7 and decided to organize a center that is run locally.

Tentatively named Lifepointe Family Center, the program will be located in the same spot as Elizabeth’s Hope at 42 W. Main St. in London. The group is awaiting its incorporation papers and has started to create an organizational structure. Ministry For Community, a non-profit task force, is helping the new center get started.

The new center will offer the same services that Elizabeth’s Hope did: free pregnancy tests, peer counseling, prayer support, clothing and other supplies for mothers and babies, and parenting classes.

“I am hopeful that we will be open sometime in August or by the first of September,” said Wendy Starr, a former three-year member of the Elizabeth’s Hope board.

In addition to Starr, the core group of citizens involved in getting the center organized includes Twyla McNamara of Ministry For Community, Rev. Russ Fairbanks of London Church of the Nazarene, Pastor Thad Gifford of Community Crossroads Church, Father Ted Sill of St. Patrick Catholic Church, Rev. Steve Kirby of London Baptist Church, and Megan Colwell, an Elizabeth’s Hope volunteer for five years.

“I’m pleased that we have so much experience coming to Lifepointe,” Starr said, noting that three former Elizabeth’s Hope directors—Amanda Brown, Vickie Sairs and Debbie Wertz—are part of the new start-up team.

“A pregnancy center is not a place for girls to go and hide. It’s a place where women and men can go to strengthen their families,” said Wertz, who worked as an administrative assistant for Elizabeth’s Hope for one year before serving as the director from January to November 2007.

Wertz said the London center saw about 12 clients per month when she first started. When she left, the average was up to 32. Their reasons for utilizing the center’s services were diverse, she said. Some were pregnant teens with no support at home, some were couples who needed help with diapers and formula, and some were couples who weren’t sure they could raise a child.

“The center is a place where individuals can go and become sure of themselves, which will be reflected in their parenting skills. It’s an excellent program and that’s why we can’t let it fade into the sunset,” Wertz said.

For more information about the new locally run pregnancy care center, call Megan Colwell at 614-562-9408. Colwell is helping the new center to gather volunteers and donations of everything from computers and furniture for the office to baby clothing and supplies.

“We have one church already that is thinking of doing a ‘baby shower’ with the gifts going to the center, rather than to an individual,” Starr said.

Monetary donations can be sent to: Ministry For Community, P.O. Box 162, London, OH 43140 (write “pregnancy center” on the memo line). All donations are tax deductible. For more about Ministry For Community, contact Twyla McNamara at 614-309-9265 or by e-mail at ministryforcommunity@yahoo.com.

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