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Pregnancy Support Center officially opens new facility

In July of 2010, the Pregnancy Support Center of Johnson County, a Christian-based organization, opened its doors to young, pregnant women in the county.  On Monday, April 18, 2011, members of the Johnson County Chamber of Commerce, County Mayor Larry Potter, City Mayor Lawrence Keeble and a host of representatives from organizations and churches that has been a cornerstone of this endeavor were on hand to be a part of the ribbon-cutting ceremonies.
The Pregnancy Support Center of Johnson County was initially affiliated with Abortion Alternatives and Women’s Center, located in Elizabethton, Tennessee. Ready to branch off into their own chapter, the Pregnancy Support Center of Johnson County opened its doors to assist women on a local level.  Cheri Jo Potter and Samanthia Norman are the directors of the Pregnancy Support Center.  The organization is run by a nine-member Board of Directors comprised of local residents, as well as a three-member executive board.
According to Potter, most of the clients are single women in their early twenties.  The age of their clients spans from 14 to 40, and currently there are 62 women receiving services.  This past year, 23 babies were born to mothers who sought help from the organization.  In the process of make the Pregnancy Support Center a reality, there has been a large amount of local support including churches, corporations and volunteers.
Since opening under the wing of Abortion Alternatives and Women’s Center, the Pregnancy Support Center of Johnson County has served approximately 300 clients.  “We average about 100 a year,” Potter said.  The Pregnancy Support Center of Johnson County is a non-profit organization and does not receive government grants.  As no money is received from the state or federal government, the organization is able to minister to young girls about Jesus Christ and offer spiritual counseling and emotional support.  Vannesia Mack, who sits on the board for the Pregnancy Support Center of Johnson County, relayed that the young women are counseled on the negative effects of abortion; physically, mentally and spiritually.   According to Potter, Johnson County has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the State of Tennessee.  
Doug Hornsby, who formerly managed Mountain City Care and Rehabilitation Center, was instrumental in providing financial contributions that helped get the organization off the ground.  Although Hornsby is now Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Home Community Based Services for Signature Healthcare, he continues to maintain an active part in the organization.  According to Hornsby, the development of a learning center, known as the Women’s Hope Center, will offer women the chance to earn their GED and take basic college courses.  They will receive assistance with topics such as preparing a resume to submit with a job application.  Hornsby was grateful to Signature Healthcare for their many donations, included computers for the Women’s Hope Center.  Additionally, the construction department of Signature Healthcare offered their expertise as they turned the small church into what is now the Pregnancy Support Center of Johnson County.  Many of the people who work at Mountain City Care and Rehabilitation were at the opening of the facility with a show of support for all those who have given so much to this needed service in the county.
Acknowledging that many people have put countless hours into this endeavor, Hornsby said during opening ceremonies, “If we have changed one person’s life, it’s worth it.” Thankful for the generous support from people from all walks of life,  he added, “The Lord gave us the most important commandment in Matthew.  You have to love one another with all your heart without wanting anything in return.”
Approximately 24 churches, 16 civic organizations, 18 corporations and 13 volunteers have helped this dream to help young women in Johnson County come to fruition.
As the group gathered to cut the ribbon, there were tears of happiness as the goals of this tight-knit organization gave thanks for the many who have helped make the Pregnancy Support Center of Johnson County a vital part of the community.  “God is just good,” Potter said with a break in her voice. “He’s a good God. This is a God thing. No one individual can say they did this,” she added. “We’re happy to make a difference in the community.”  The Pregnancy Support Center of Johnson County received their tax-exempt 501C3 notification the day of the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Donations are received from local churches as well as individuals within the Johnson County community. “Some churches give a regular monthly support,” Potter added.  She added that often churches have baby showers with each guest bringing diapers and baby wipes.  She said they have been fortunate to be able to run the Pregnancy Support Center of Johnson County on approximately $1,200 per month.  They have no rent. Monthly expenses include water, electricity and insurance.  Community Church, under Pastor Ron Drake, donated the building to the Pregnancy Support Center of Johnson County.  
The Pregnancy Support Center of Johnson County offers both pregnant clients and those with young children formula, baby food, diapers and baby wipes, as well as baby clothes, toys and equipment such as cribs, high chairs and activity gyms.  Often there is a need for gas money to drive to a doctor’s appointment or help with an electric bill.  If the funds are available, the center helps wherever they can.  People help in whatever way they can, including volunteering their services by folding and organizing both baby and maternity clothes for the women and their children.  
The Pregnancy Support Center of Johnson County has implemented an “Earn While You Learn” program.  Each month, the young mothers receive baby wash, diapers and wipes.   Formula is available at no cost.  To earn extra items, such as clothing or toys for the children, they may shop at the Mommy Mart.  Hours are credited to the young women for their time spent at work or at school that equates into dollars to be spent at the center.   Hygiene items are also available for the mothers such as soap, deodorant, shampoo and conditioner.   The organization offers parenting classes that are often attended by mothers, fathers and other children in the family.  
Both Potter and Norman are excited about the acquisition of an ultrasound from Abortion Alternatives and Women’s Center in Elizabethton. Potter explained that for those young women who may be abortion-minded, a sonogram would allow them to hear their baby’s heartbeat and see their unborn child.  Potter’s hope is that this would lead the mother to make the decision to keep her child.  The ultrasound was also dedicated following the opening ceremonies for the center.  Arriving in Johnson County with the hopes of reaching out to young, pregnant teenage girls and women, Angie Odom of Alternative Abortion and Women’s Center addressed the audience, relaying their initial beginnings as they worked out of the back of an RV in a parking lot in Mountain City.
Special guests at the ceremony and open house for the Pregnancy Support Center of Johnson County included Joe Steier, CEO for Signature Healthcare, along with Sony Steier, his wife, who helped organize a baby drive in Louisville, Kentucky, resulting in a large truck load of baby items delivered to the Pregnancy Support Center of Johnson County.  Guests also included Mitch Abrams, CEO of Signature Construction and  his wife, Jill Abrams, along with Dianna Timmering, the vice president of Spirituality at Signature Healthcare.  Representatives from Signature Healthcare have expressed interest in using the support center as a model for other pregnancy support centers in other areas of the country.  
For more information about the Pregnancy Support Center of Johnson County, contact the 24-hour help line at 434 727-8600.