Pregnancy resource center to offer faith-based options

Those attending several local churches on Mother's Day will likely see a lot of empty baby bottles.

Churches hope members will take the empty bottles home, fill them with cash and loose change, and return them to the church on Father's Day.

No, it's not a creative way to increase church tithes. It's a fundraiser to help with the expenses of a new resource center for pregnant women.

Several local churches of various denominations have banded together to start the Hope Resource Center, a satellite of the center in Pine Bluff, which offers pregnant women an alternative to abortion, according to Nancy Stephan, a Hope Resource Center board member and a member of St. Mark's Catholic Church.

The center, which is scheduled to open on June 1, will counsel women to choose life for their unborn children, Stephan said.

Citing statistics compiled by Hope Resource Center, Stephan said one abortion is performed every 24 seconds in the U.S. but women considering abortion, 40 percent of the time, will choose life for their unborn child after visiting a crisis pregnancy center.

In addition to pregnancy tests and counseling, Stephan said the center will provide parental training and operate a thrift store.

"Expectant mothers will meet once a week for life skills and spiritual training," Stephan said. "When participants attend class they will receive 'mommy bucks' to spend at the center's thrift store where they may receive baby clothing, maternity clothing, baby formula, diapers and other necessities."

The center will be operated by trained volunteers from several local churches under the direction of Robin Caldwell, a member of First Baptist Church.

Though the center is faith based, it is non-denominational, according to Stephan.

Board members are Wendy Curry, First Baptist Church; Keitha Dodson, Journey Church; David O. Mitchell, Bartholomew Association; Gerry Patterson, Calvary Baptist Church; Jennifer Rowland, First Assembly of God Church; Donald Teater, chief operating officer of the Vera Lloyd Presbyterian Home for Children and a member of First Baptist Church; Tracy White, Northside Baptist Church; Caldwell and Stephan.

Stephan said volunteers are needed for a variety of tasks, from painting the center to sitting with children while their mothers attend classes at the center.

Donations of office supplies and furniture for the office and reception area are also needed, she said.

Those interested in volunteering or making a donation may contact Wendy Curry at First Baptist Church, Stephan said.

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