ST. GEORGE – Wind, clouds and even the slight threat of rain didn’t dampen the spirits of those participating in Hope Pregnancy Care Center’s “Steps for Hope” fundraiser Thursday night. Approximately 300 people came together to walk around St. George Town Square in support of Hope.
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Videocast by Samantha Tommer, St. George News
Jessica Blevins, director of Hope Pregnancy Care Center, greeted the crowd and expressed her joy that families had come out to support Hope together.
“We want our kids to be raised up to value life,” Blevins said. “In the words of Dr. Seuss, ‘A person’s a person, no matter how small.’ That is an an appropriate statement for a crisis pregnancy center.”
The wind died down, the clouds cleared and the weather was perfect for a walk around Town Square. Children laughed and played as they enjoyed the inflatable bounce house and slide, received free rides on the carousel and had their faces painted.
After a short walk to bring awareness to Hope Pregnancy Care Center, participants were treated to a barbecue dinner. Members of the Hope board served each walker and thanked the individuals for their participation and support.
Each person who made a donation to Hope during the event received a tote with this year’s “Steps for Hope” logo printed on it. The donations came in the form of baby bottles filled with money and checks.
Each person present received a ticket for a chance to win a door prize. Hope volunteer Jeff Campbell thanked local companies for providing the prizes. The companies included Buca Di Beppo, Black Bear Diner, T.J. Maxx and Costco. A separate drawing was held for the kids in the crowd, and each winner received a large box of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Treats.
Founder’s desire to educate women
Hope founder Merry Jo Cook never dreamed that Hope Pregnancy Care Center would flourish the way it has.
“I thought in my mind we were going to speak with 10 or 12 or 25 girls a year. I just never knew it would blossom like this,” Cook said.
More than 1,000 clients have passed through Hope’s doors since they opened in July 2005.
Cook’s idea stemmed from her years as a high school teacher and seeing girls who were facing crisis pregnancies during that time.
“The young girls would come to the teachers and ask questions, and they needed to be educated (regarding their sexuality),” Cook said. “That was one of the forces behind starting Hope.”
Hope advocates for sexual abstinence until marriage. One of the major roles of Hope’s two dozen volunteers is to educate girls and young women about making wise choices regarding sexuality. If an unmarried client comes in for a pregnancy test and it has a negative result, a client advocate will spend time with that client, endeavoring to educate her on the importance of choosing abstinence in the future so she doesn’t become a repeat client, Cook said.
Hope volunteers also offer abstinence education seminars for Washington County high school and middle school students. Their outreach program, called “Why Not?,” encourages young people, in an entertaining and interactive way they can relate to, to choose abstinence until marriage.
Besides crisis pregnancy counseling and abstinence education, Hope offers parenting classes in an “earn while you learn” setting where clients can earn mommy and daddy bucks to shop at Hope’s in-house boutique. The classes offer complete information on options for coping with an unplanned pregnancy. Adoption information is discussed, as well as abortion procedures and consequences. Hope is a life-affirming organization and does not perform nor refer for abortions, but clients are educated on the procedures and side effects. Hope clients can also receive referrals for ultrasounds on an as-needed basis.
Clients can additionally receive community referrals for health insurance, doctors, WIC and Baby Your Baby. Women who are struggling with past decisions to have an abortion can receive help through a program called “Forgiven and Set Free,” which helps them to come to terms with the decision they made and receive emotional and spiritual healing. A Fatherhood 101 program has also been added, where young men can meet with other men and be mentored in the father’s role of parenting.
“We have had so many wonderful people come to Hope as volunteers, as employees, who have come up with marvelous ideas, and it’s just blossomed,” Cook said.
Hope Pregnancy Care Center is a nonprofit organization that depends solely on donations from community supporters. The organization does not receive any government funding. That’s why events such as Steps for Hope are so important, Cook said. The Hope Chest Thrift Store, located at 74 E. Tabernacle in St. George, also helps to financially support the programs offered at Hope.
Anyone interested in donating to Hope Pregnancy Care Center can do so at the organization’s facility, 391 E. 500 South in St. George. In-kind donations can be taken to the Hope Chest Thrift Store.
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- Hope Pregnancy Care Center | Website
- Telephone: 435-653-8342
- Address: 391 E. 500 South in St. George
- Hope Chest Thrift Store | Website
- Telephone: 435-674-5325
- Address: 74 E. Tabernacle in St. George
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