Stepping out for Hope Pregnancy Care Center; STGnews Videocast

Donations at "Steps for Hope" were given in the form of cash-filled baby bottles, St. George, Utah, Oct. 9, 2014 | Photo by Rhonda Tommer, St. George News

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.

Everyone who participated in Steps for Hope walked around the block at Town Square to raise awareness for Hope Pregnancy Care Center, St. George, Utah, October 9, 2014 | Photo by Rhonda Tommer, St. George News
Everyone who participated in Steps for Hope walked around the block at Town Square to raise awareness for Hope Pregnancy Care Center, St. George, Utah, Oct. 9, 2014 | Photo by Rhonda Tommer, St. George News

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.

Volunteers set up for the BBQ, Steps for Hope, St. George, Utah, October 9, 2014 | Photo by Rhonda Tommer, St. George News
Volunteers set up for a barbecue at Steps for Hope, St. George, Utah, Oct. 9, 2014 | Photo by Rhonda Tommer, St. George News

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.

Face painting was provided for kids at Steps for Hope, St. George, Utah, October 9, 2014 | Photo by Rhonda Tommer, St. George News
Face-painting was provided for kids at Steps for Hope, St. George, Utah, Oct. 9, 2014 | Photo by Rhonda Tommer, St. George News

“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.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.


  • 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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  • Suffragette October 10, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    Every study shows that “abstinence only” education does not work. People of all ages need access to safe and affordable birth control when needed, information, and the ability to make informed choices. Telling women they should have abstained in the first place is not an effective response.

    Long live Planned Parenthood, which offers birth control at reasonable cost, medical information, and a no blame / no shame response, just down the road. Everybody else can keep your values out of my body.

    • B Carter October 10, 2014 at 4:50 pm

      I completely agree. I would like to add that if people want to have sex, they are going to do it regardless of “abstinence only” education. But now with “abstinence only”, they have no idea how to have sex safely. In school, I had different sex ed classes while I lived in California and sequentially in Utah. The contrast was ridiculous. I learned nothing from the Utah classes other than sex is wrong, and you are a horribly, morally corrupt person for even thinking about sex before marriage.

  • Lin October 10, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    Great article and a super great cause.

  • Bobber October 10, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    Religious folks are always prying into people’s business. The abstinence only thing can be taught, but should be taught along with every other form of birth-control. And even abortion is a terrible thing it should be kept a choice and you religious nutters should mind your own crap and quit meddling. LIfe is about choices…

  • Patchiz October 10, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    A very nice read. Compassion for youth is always a good cause

  • Betty October 11, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    Birth control is NOT 100% effective, so Mrs. Cook’s endeavor to educate young woman on the importance of choosing abstinence in the future so a young woman doesn’t become a repeat client is quite noble and down right brilliant. Offering condoms or another method and then the opportunity to kill an innocent little person (who had no choice in the process) when those “protections” fail to protect is just irresponsible. Teenage females seem to equate love with sex. Teenage boys equate sex with manhood. Sadly, both are wrong. Maybe they just need to see another option. Seems to me, Hope PCC can provide another option and maybe a perspective these young people never thought about. I don’t see where they are pushing any specific religion so you can’t point the finger in that direction. Offering fatherhood classes seems to be a bonus as well. If your going to get a girl pregnant, you’d better be able to tow the line.

    • Bobber October 11, 2014 at 9:23 pm

      Yea, but why is it even your business to tell folks what they can and can’t do? busybody much?

    • B Carter October 11, 2014 at 10:26 pm

      It appears that abstinence only education isn’t 100% effective either, seeing that Utah has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country.

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