By Sherrie Norris
Approximately 250 people gathered on September 19 to celebrate the success of Hope Pregnancy Center, a local nonprofit organization that has a proven track record of changing lives.
The 29th annual fundraising banquet was held at the Harvest House Performing Arts Venue in Boone with center staff and clients sharing testimonials about the services they provide and receive.
Opening remarks were delivered by Drew Petrey, representing the organization’s board of directors, followed by words from the center’s Executive Director, Molly Petrey, who is now entering year two in her current role. “It is our mission — and truly an honor and privilege for my staff and me to be able to walk alongside our clients, to offer professional, compassionate care to those who are experiencing an unintended pregnancy, to address their unique stressors and foster healthy outcomes for women, men, and babies.”
Petrey and her staff carry out that mission with grace and compassion, while focusing on providing medical, emotional and practical services.
According to statistics provided to the center by their clients, those top identified “stressors” to which Petrey alluded, include the fact that some of their clients are either uninsured or underinsured, are current or past drug users, have been or are currently victims of domestic violence, and experience or are concerned about food insecurity, as well as affordable childcare.
Petrey noted how her “amazing team” deals daily with “complex situations” with their clients. “Hard, heavy situations,” she said, proving how these women and men are in need of not only the tangible hope that the center provides, but also hope in Jesus Christ. Showing God’s love to them, Petrey said, is another foundational aspect that is evident at Hope Pregnancy Center.
Three female clients — Calah Stephens, Laura Blevins and Lauren Michell — who participated in a client panel during the event, confirmed Petrey’s words; they shared very personal details about their unexpected pregnancies and how they found the compassion and acceptance they so desired during a difficult time of their lives — without judgement.
They each spoke of their personal journeys, from learning about their pregnancies to the challenges therein and in the months that followed.
While one is still is awaiting the birth of her child, the others spoke of how Hope Pregnancy Center walked with them through and after the births of their babies, and how the support they continue to receive has been life-changing. They were surprised, they admitted, that the services were free, they admitted, to which Petrey reminded them, “It’s because we have a community of people who loves you and your baby.”
Yes, She Can! — And More
In addition to the basic services received through the program – from that first ultrasound that validates the baby’s existence, to baby showers and other types of support they have been given, the panel participants shared how helpful it was to receive financial support through the “Yes, She Can!” — the scholarship the organization provides for young mothers to be able to continue their college education.
Since 2013, Petrey announced, over $100,000 has been awarded to student moms.
A special exhibit at this year’s banquet called “Portraits of Hope,” was a photo gallery featuring pictures of clients and families the center has served in recent years.
“These photos were taken by Dallas Linger, of Dallas Linger Photography,” Petrey explained. “Dallas was a 2018 ‘Yes, She Can! ‘Scholarship recipient and recently graduated with her degree in commercial photography from ASU. We’re thrilled to be showcasing her art and are so proud of her and her accomplishments — all while being a mother to her daughter, Isabel.”
The gallery, which was sponsored by Wendy’s, was dedicated to the Partners of Hope who give sacrificially of their time, resources and finances.
Other opportunities available for center partners included the chance to sponsor a client care package, through which a suggested donation of $50 provides an assortment of items to remind the new mother that she is loved and not forgotten.
Also, a limited edition and supply of signature Tiny Hands Pottery mugs were available for purchase, with all proceeds going to the center.
Giving and Receiving Hope
Lives are transformed daily at Hope Pregnancy Center, Petrey reiterated. “Women, men and their families receive the support they need through our provided services and by such, our community is strengthened.”
Services offered at Hope Pregnancy Center include pregnancy testing, options education, ultrasounds, pregnancy support advocacy, childbirth education and parenting programs, STI testing and prevention, post-abortion support, community outreach and counseling services.
Specific programs to accomplish much of the above include: Journey Through Motherhood Mentoring Program, Yes, She Can! Student Mom Scholarship, Baby Showers of Hope and more.
And, as the panel participants pointed out, everything is free and confidential.
During the 2018-2019 fiscal year, Hope Pregnancy Center served 147 clients, provided 125 pregnancy tests, options counseling for 150 clients, performed 175 ultrasounds, and gave out three scholarships.
In addition to Petrey, the current staff of the center includes the following: Director of operations, Kelsie Summers, receptionist, Kelsea Fox, nurse manager, Molly Law, nurse sonographer, Kaley Conner, director of client services, Meagan Brunson, and pregnancy support advocate, Meagan Baugh.
Current board of directors include Hannah Reeder as chairperson, Ross Blackburn, secretary, Drew Petrey, treasurer,serving along with Tyler Brunson, Debbie Lawrence, Peggy Eller and Alison Idol.
Event Sponsors included: Allen Wealth Management, Blue Ridge Pediatrics, Boone Drug, Inc., Boone Rent-All, Combs Tenant and Carpenter, Dale and Betty Greene, Eggers Law Firm, Harkins Insurance Agency, Law Office of Rob B. Angle and Tar Heel Capital.
Special recognition was given to the recently deceased board member, Marvin Bagwell, who was credited for providing the center’s first ultrasound machine. “We miss him terribly and will always be grateful for his contribution to Hope,” said Petrey.
Others who were acknowledged for their contributions and services for the banquet’s success included: Gadabouts Catering, Harvest House, Journey Light Creative, Millefleurs, Music by Matt Rath, Sarah Littauer Photography, Styling by Epoch Picks and Tiny Hands Pottery.
“We are continually in awe of this community and the way it rallies around others to be bearers of hope,” Petrey said. “Hope is 100- percent privately funded through individuals, organizations and churches who are making a huge impact in the lives of the families we serve. Through your giving, lives are being impacted and families are being formed and are thriving. Thank you for being an expression of God’s love and heart for women and men navigating an unintended pregnancy.”
Tax- deductible and may be made to Hope Pregnancy Center, 208 Howard St. Boone, NC 28607
For more information, visit choosehope.org or call 828-265-4357 or text 828-278-9642.