Non-Profit Serves Expectant Mothers
There is a place in Whiteville where expectant mothers can go to not only learn about resources in Columbus County, but also gain support and guidance before and after their pregnancy. Living Hope Pregnancy Center may be considered one of the best kept secrets in the area, but they want to change that.
Living Hope is a non-profit organization, and since 1990, they have been serving the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs of women, men, and families who are making decisions about their pregnancies and relationships.
All the services are free and confidential, and anyone of any age is served.
"We accept all expectant moms into our program if they live in Columbus or Bladen County. We serve moms without regard to age, marital status, race, citizenship status, or religion," said Executive Director Janet McPherson. "Many of the participants are first-time moms, but many others are not."
The center offers a multitude of services from the beginning of pregnancy until after the baby is born.
"Living Hope offers free and confidential pregnancy tests. We provide free prenatal vitamins to those with positive tests. We also offer options counseling for those who are uncertain of their plans for the pregnancy," McPherson expressed.
They have counseling to help guide women through the options of adoption and parenting. Though Living Hope does not refer clients to abortion clinics, they will discuss the health risks involved in making such an important decision and a mother’s rights during the process.
The pregnancy center has services for fathers, too.
They have fraternity classes that can be taken online or in person. The topics include 'Being a Father' and 'Practical Fatherhood,' among others. Literature, guidance, and support are also available for those who need it.
Earn As You Learn Program
Some parents are old pros when it comes to childrearing, but for those who are not, there is the Earn As You Learn program. Mothers to be can take classes on various topics such as breastfeeding, prenatal care, labor and delivery, caring for babies, parenting, safety and emergencies, and positive partnerships. They can sign up to take the classes when they are 30 weeks along in their pregnancy.
Living Hope offers the classes through Brightcourse. Participants can watch a total of eight hours of video on various topics of their choosing, complete the worksheets and homework after each video, and then earn shop time at the center's boutique.
Participants can also earn a new car seat or a pack n' play, and a laundry basket filled with forty-eight diapers, a large package of wipes, baby lotion and body wash, five bottles, a heavy blanket, a receiving blanket, three caps, three bibs, three onesies, three pairs of socks, one burp cloth, one hooded towel, three wash clothes, three sleepers or gowns, three outfits, one toy, two miscellaneous items, and a bonus gift.
"Each mom is assigned an advocate who meets with her and explains the program. All the lessons are sent by email or text and are completed online," explained McPherson. "The advocate sends the lessons and checks the client's homework when the lesson is completed. Each lesson has a video, a worksheet, a homework sheet, a fact sheet and a spiritual application sheet. Most lessons are about twenty minutes in length. Each client is required to complete 10 hours of lessons. When the client completes her 10 hours of lessons, she comes back to Living Hope to do her shopping."
The pregnancy center has a store of sorts inside the facility. Not only do mothers who have completed the Earn As You Learn courses get to browse the racks, other parents and guardians in the community rearing babies and toddlers get their turn too.
"We also provide diapers, wipes, clothing and supplies to anyone raising a child - parents, foster parents, etc. Each person can come each month for a package of diapers and wipes. Every other month, they can also receive gently used clothing. We carry diapers through size six and clothing through size 2T. Some of our clients have been coming to us for 15 years, and we have served several multi-generational families," said McPherson.
Items are purchased for the boutique using donations from churches and individuals. Living Hope also receives two major grants each year: a Maternal-Child Health Grant through LifeLink Carolina (a consortium of pregnancy centers and maternity homes in N.C.) and a grant from the Columbus County Community Foundation.
Other fundraisers for the center include the Evening of Hope dinner, the Blessings in a Bottle project and a year-end appeal. The next Evening of Hope benefit is April 20, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Northwood Church in Whiteville.
Sponsorships are available for Evening of Hope from $300-$1,000. The monetary gifts are tax deductible, and these individuals and businesses will be recognized on banners and programs for the event. Those who do not wish to host a table are also invited to attend.
The organization is also looking for volunteers to staff the benefit. Ushers, registrars, set up helpers, and cleanup crews are needed for the evening.
To become a sponsor, attend the event, volunteer, or if you are an expectant mother or father interested in support services, contact the center at 910.642.2677. You can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the website at https://www.livinghopepregnancyservices.com/. Living Hope Pregnancy Center is located right behind Waffle International at 116 Premiere Plaza in Whiteville.