By Marlana Ward
Since 2010, the Pregnancy Support Center of Johnson County has been providing care and encouragement to young women of the community. The center has become a place of hope and education as hundreds of young mothers have received educational materials, supplies, and kind words of support over the years.
“The center was started by some caring professionals and pastors in our town who recognized the need in our area,” Center Director Judith Hoekstra shared. “The men and women saw the low birth weight figures for Johnson County and identified the lack of prenatal care in our county. Feeling led by the Lord, they got together and diligently worked out the necessary details to make this happen including finding a building which was eventually donated. All the necessary remodeling and repairs were also donated. It took a few years, but in July of 2010 The Johnson County Pregnancy Support Center opened.”
When the Pregnancy Support Center opened, its mission was to provide young mothers-to-be with the knowledge and necessities to have healthy pregnancies. “Our motto is ‘Making a difference where life begins,’” explained Judith Hoekstra, Center Director. “We provide educational materials, tangible resources, emotional support and spiritual support during and after pregnancy.”
The volunteers at the center all seek to be a positive influence on the ladies who come through the door and are rewarded when they see how the center’s work affects a young family. “I have seen God at work at the Pregnancy Support Center as we offer faith-based, non-judgmental, life-affirming services to pregnant women whether married or unmarried in Johnson County,” expressed center volunteer Pam Steinke. “One client that sticks out to me was a young high school girl who was in a crisis situation. She had a supportive mom, and the father of the baby was supportive. We did her ultrasound, helped her with pregnancy and new baby education. Through that education, she earned diapers, wipes, baby clothing, and other items that helped her as she parented her baby, graduated from high school, and got a job to support herself until she was able to start further education. It’s rewarding to support women emotionally, spiritually, and materially when they choose to parent their child and improve their standard of living.”
The program at the center is set up so that women are encouraged to complete educational series and attend regular, prenatal doctor visits. “Diapers and wipes once a month earned by education materials and tests,” Hoekstra explained. “Also, five personal care products can be earned by the same educational session once a month. These sessions also earn ‘Mommy Money’ by which clients can buy baby clothes, toys, baby furnishings, and any equipment that has been donated. Clients can earn a new crib and mattress by showing ten visits to their doctor. This helps make sure they are getting prenatal care which improves babies’ healthy birth weights.”
In addition to educational resources, the center also can provide some ultrasound services to the mothers-to-be. Ultrasounds are performed by licensed, registered nurses and reviewed by the PSCJC medical director. These ultrasounds are to confirm pregnancy and detect heartbeats. By letting the young women hear the pulse of their child, they are encouraged to pursue learning about how to best care for the life they carry within and how to care for their baby when it arrives.
Contributing to the center’s ability to assist the young mothers are the support and contributions given by the community. “We are faith-based and run totally by volunteers,” said Hoekstra. “Our volunteers come from many area churches. Many churches and businesses in Mountain City and Johnson City support us financially and with baby necessities.” Some area churches even hold “baby showers” where members are encouraged to bring diapers, wipes, and other related goods for the center.
Seeing God using these organizations and businesses have made an impression in not only the lives of the mothers but also the lives of the people who give of their time to be a part of the ministry as volunteer Phillis Griffith shared, “God has richly blessed and grown this ministry over the years. I am humbled that He has allowed me to be a part of seeing Him glorified as he meets the physical and spiritual needs of so many ladies and their precious babies.”
While some supplies are donated to the center, the group also relies on monetary donations to purchase additional goods for the moms. “A crib and mattress are about $150.00, diapers can run over $5.00 a pack, and wipes are at least $2.00,” shared Hoekstra. “Plus there are normal costs for energy, water, and building maintenance.” Hoekstra sees God working to provide for the center and hopes that more will answer the call for loving these families. “We praise the Lord for any and all contributions from the community and wish more businesses would get involved in financing our efforts.”
The center shared some statistics for work done in 2017:
63 new clients were added to the role.
73 clients “graduated” from the program upon their child’s 1st birthday.
32 cribs were given out.
575 packs of diapers and 575 packs of wipes were given out coinciding with the 575 educational sessions held.
2,875 personal care products were dispensed.
749 visits to the “Mommy Mart” for clothes an baby furnishings including toys, books, and other donated items.
24 $10.00 gas cards were earned.
101 clients were prayed alongside as prayer is always offered when a young woman visits.
With love, faith, and support being the cornerstones of the ministry at the Pregnancy Support Center of Johnson County, the group is changing the community one precious life at a time. “We rejoice with the moms in every situation,” Hoekstra expressed. “We just love them all and all of the time. We celebrate every birth with extra love. We also pray with and for our girls. The Pregnancy Center is a wonderful place to love as God commanded.”