Community Rallies To Help Pregnancy Center Move

Published 11:59 am Thursday, June 25, 2015

FARMVILLE — Since 1984 the Pregnancy Center of Southside Virginia has provided compassion and hope to local women, teens and families facing difficult pregnancy decisions. Recently the community returned the favor by helping the center relocate after its building was flooded in February.

“The ceiling collapsed,” Executive Director Melanie Green said of the former location on West Third Street in Farmville. “Water was pouring out of the front of the building. It was really quite devastating.”

“It was one of those cold weekends in February,” added Client Services Director Karen Caldwell. “The pipes burst. We had over 30 years worth of items that we had to go through. We lost all our paper supplies.”

Email newsletter signup

The flood was devastating to the Pregnancy Center in more ways than one. The center receives no government funding and continues to rely on donations from individuals, organizations and churches.

After the building flooded, Green and Caldwell decided to reach out to local churches. A number of them responded.

“Farmville United Methodist Church opened its doors to us,” Caldwell said. “Pastor Kendall called us and said, ‘We have space here if you need a place.’ We were there for three months.”

It was appropriate for local churches to support this Christian-based ministry started in 1983. Dr. Diane Fox, of the Burkeville Medical Group, sent out an invitation for an organizational meeting. Her letter read in part: “We have been increasingly alarmed by the number of girls and women in our practice with ‘crisis pregnancies’ — women who are lacking the family support, finances or emotional resources to carry an unplanned pregnancy to term. As Christians we believe that we need to offer the abundance and fullness of life in Christ to all our patients, including mothers and their unborn children.”

The Pregnancy Center, the current director believes, continues to fill an important need in the community.

“In this area over half the babies born are born to single mothers,” Green said. “Our priority is the young girl. Usually when someone comes to us, it’s a crisis. There are multiple things, not just a pregnancy. We do community referrals if there are other needs.”

Those needs might include assistance in finding a doctor, help in obtaining WIC or food stamps, or addressing housing needs.

“We can refer clients to Social Services, the Farmville Area Rescue Mission, the Salvation Army or the Counseling Center,” Green said. “It is important to have those resources and connections.”

In a June 7, 2013, Herald feature, then Pregnancy Center Director Cheryl Gowin said, “I think we’re one of the best-kept secrets in the area.”

“That is no longer the case,” Green said.

Since Green arrived in November 2013, she has taken specific steps to make the community more aware of the Pregnancy Center and its work.

“We’ve taken part in the Wellness Fair at Longwood, Longwood’s Rock the Block, Charity Day at Belk, and the Taste of Farmville,” Green said. “Our goal, with both Karen and I coming in from the outside and really not having this background, was to reach out to local churches.”

Temporarily housed at Farmville UMC, the Pregnancy Center found many other churches ready and willing to help.

“Volunteers from local churches came to paint the rooms in our new office on North Main Street,” Caldwell said. “They also bought the paint. Others bought paper supplies lost in the flood. People really came out to help us.”

Because the Pregnancy Center covers an 11-county region, Green is working to expand the list of resources and referrals in other counties.

“If someone comes to us from Keysville or Charlotte County or Appomattox, we now have people we can connect them with. That’s one of the things we want to continue to grow.”

The Pregnancy Center provides free and confidential support to clients, starting from a positive pregnancy test and continuing through post-birth courses on parenting.

“We try to walk our clients through the process — preparing for the pregnancy, infant curriculum, when baby comes home, then parenting classes,” Green said.

Green and Caldwell are excited about two new additions to the center’s parenting classes: “Positive Partnership” encouraging marriage and “Practical Fatherhood” focusing on the father as a role model.

“This community needs this education,” Green said.

All the parenting classes are incentive-based “Earn While You Learn” courses. Those who complete the classes earn “Mommy and Daddy Dollars” that can be spent in the center’s Baby Boutique.

“Even if you get food stamps or WIC, you can’t buy diapers or baby wipes,” Green said. “I don’t think people realize how important these things are.”

Faced with daily challenges at the Pregnancy Center, both Green, a graduate of Liberty University, and Caldwell, a local minister’s wife, concede that they frequently rely on prayer.

“The way I like to look at it is, it’s all coming from God,” Green said. “We’re seeing how God is providing for people. When there’s a need, and we have a winter coat in just the right size — that’s the hand of God at work.”

Settled in their new location, Green and Caldwell are optimistic about the future of the Pregnancy Center in Farmville.

“The flood was a disaster at the time,” Green said. “But looking back, it was a blessing in disguise.”

For more information on the Pregnancy Support Center of Southside Virginia, 201 N. Main St., Suite 1106, call (434) 392-8483.