By Sherrie Norris
It’s a new day at Hope Pregnancy Center of Boone as Molly Petrey takes over the reins as executive director, effective August 1.
Petrey was named to her new leadership position following the recent resignation of longtime director, Brian Lowe. Lowe’s last day on the job is Tuesday, July 31, after which he will assume his new role as executive director of the Children’s Volunteer Health Network, a Christian medical/dental outreach to underserved or underinsured children in Walton and Okaloosa Counties on the Gulf Coast of Florida.
“To say that I am grateful for this opportunity would be a huge understatement,” Petrey said. “I am excited to continue the work that Brian has started of coming alongside women with grace and compassion to inspire confidence to successfully navigate the stressors of an unplanned pregnancy. Brian’s legacy will definitely live on as he has led the way in bringing hope to women and men in the High Country. I look forward to the future and how the center will grow. The team here is one of the best, most compassionate teams I have ever had the privilege of serving with, and I am excited to work with them as we offer care and hope to these young families in our community.”
Petrey is certainly no stranger to the center, as she has not only worked there for several years, but started out as a youthful volunteer.
“My history with Hope Pregnancy Center started from a young age, around 6, actually, when I would go with my mom to volunteer by stuffing envelopes, counting change, hosting a baby shower and helping in any way I could. As I grew, I continued in service through volunteering for special events and partnering as a monthly donor.”
Petrey said she has “always had a heart for women and babies,” and that the mission of helping women with an unplanned pregnancy has always been very close to her heart.
“I always knew that if a job became available, I would want to work at the pregnancy center, but until 2014, that door never opened.”
Then, one day in March of 2014, Petrey received an unexpected email from Brian Lowe, asking if she would be interested in the part time position of office manager.
“My mom, (a volunteer mentor at the time), unbeknownst to me, had given Brian my name as a candidate, knowing my heart for the mission of the center and my gifts and talents in administrative procedure.”
After interviewing with Lowe, Petrey was offered the job, which she gladly accepted.
“What started as a part-time job transitioned into a full-time position in 2015,” Petrey described. “And, as I began to take on more and more responsibility, I was promoted to director of operations in June 2017.”
With nearly five years with the organization, and learning all aspects of its operation, “including my commitment to carry out the vision therein,” Petrey said she was delighted when Lowe officially recommended her for the job, followed by an interview with the board of directors and ultimately, the job offer.
Big shoes to fill
Petrey has no illusions about the job that awaits her and understands she has big shoes to fill. Brian Lowe has successfully led Hope Pregnancy Center since walking through the doors of the organization on Monday, March 21, 2005, known then as Boone Crisis Pregnancy Center, to succeed the retiring Ann Cook as executive director.
“The subsequent 13 years have been quite remarkable, given the organizational change that has occurred and being embraced by this mountain town community from the outset,” Lowe said. “My wife, Dell, prayed that the Lord would give us at least five years here. The additional eight years make our departure to Florida a quite emotional endeavor as we grieve the loss of community.”
Lowe will begin his new duties with CVHN — “a new chapter of my nonprofit service” — on August 8, he said.
“It truly has been an honor to serve in this ministry,” Lowe added. “When I look back to the beginning of my tenure and compare it to where Hope is currently, my heart is filled with intense gratitude.”
Lowe recalled that, soon after his arrival in Boone, the board of directors at the center, decided to overhaul the ministry to better serve women with unplanned pregnancies who were in the decision phase.
“It was an ambitious plan that would guide the organization in subsequent years,” he described. “The immediate results included a name change, new mission statement, rebranding campaign — and a new medical model of ministry focused on providing free ultrasounds.”
As a result, Lowe added, Hope Pregnancy Resource Center has been determined to help women with unplanned pregnancies to tell better stories ever since.
“I am tremendously proud of our vision to change the narrative surrounding unplanned pregnancy and abortion in the High Country,” he said. “Although I prefer not to use the word ‘abortion’ often because of the psychological noise that often accompanies it, it is a reality in our community. As a Christian organization, we have sought to lead with compassion and grace on this very divisive and volatile social issue. While other pregnancy centers across the nation have chosen to engage politically on this issue, Hope has refrained from political activism. Instead, we have chosen to focus on welcoming women, especially ones considering abortion, into our safe, judgement-free environment on Howard Street. Our dedicated staff considers it an honor to come alongside these women as they navigate the stressors of an unplanned pregnancy. Instead of telling them what to do, we seek to better understand the difficult and challenging circumstances that are leading them to consider abortion as an option.”
Most of the center’s clients consider abortion as an option because they simply cannot see another way forward, Lowe said. “For our clients to experience the freedom of true choice, they need resources like childcare, housing, emotional support, and a flexible job.
Since many college students come to Hope, the “Yes She Can!” scholarship for campus moms was started several years ago. For this demographic, the choice often comes down to having a baby or getting an education.
“The cultural narrative suggests the baby is a threat to the mother’s future,” Lowe described. “One way to counter that logic is to resource these young moms with scholarship funds to allow them to stay in school and become educated moms. To date, Hope has awarded over $80,000 in scholarship funds to pregnant or parenting moms on our college campuses in the High Country.”
At Hope, we have found that leading with compassion and grace is a better way to affect change locally,” Lowe added. “As I considered this new opportunity in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, the future of Hope was paramount in my thinking. Our paradigm of service is special. In many respects, it is unique to the pregnancy center movement.”
At the same time, Lowe said that he is delighted to know that Hope’s philosophy of ministry will continue under Petrey’s direction.
“Each year, Molly has shown great initiative in taking on more and more responsibility. When the board of directors asked my opinion on a potential successor, Molly was the only choice in my mind. Over our four years together, I have witnessed her heart for women and babies grow steadily. It’s been especially gratifying to see her not only adopt our women-centered philosophy of ministry, but also become a vocal advocate for the Hope way. Molly has demonstrated a commitment to grappling with the issues our clients are facing and responding winsomely and mercifully. As I depart, I do so with full confidence that the future of Hope is bright.”
As word has trickled out about this transition, Lowe said, two questions seem to have prevailed. “The first one usually offered is related to the reason for my departure. The primary reason is that the winters in Boone have become increasingly more challenging for me emotionally.”
The second question usually is related to what he will miss most, he said. “There has been so much good over the years here at Hope. This is not an easy question to answer. Yet, my team at Hope will always have my heart. Because we are a smaller organization, our lives blend together. Because of the gravity of our clients’ stories and life-situations, our team has developed a tremendous bond. My staff displays a gracious love and respect for our clients each day at Hope. They have granted me the grace to make mistakes, the encouragement to overcome fits of discouragement, and the opportunity to challenge them to help women with unplanned pregnancies to thrive. To my staff (Molly, Molly, Ginger, Meagan, Meagan, and Kaley), thank you for all the laughs, tears, joys, and memories that we have shared together. And, please come visit!”
On behalf of the Hope Pregnancy Center’s Board of Directors, board chair Hannah Reeder, had this to say: “When Brian first announced that he was leaving, I was overcome with a lot of emotions. Not only were we losing a leader who has done so much for this organization, but now we were tasked with trying to fill his shoes. But our God is providential. He made it abundantly clear that Molly should become the next executive director of Hope Pregnancy Center. I am thankful for her passion, leadership and heart for the ministry. The board is delighted to have such a strong person to continue the work that Brian has started.”
More About Hope Pregnancy Center
Mission: With compassion and grace, Hope Pregnancy Center provides resources that inspire confidence in women to successfully navigate the stressors of an unplanned pregnancy.
Vision: To be the first choice for women with unplanned pregnancies in the High Country
Current services, all free and confidential, include the following:
Medical grade pregnancy test.
Limited obstetrical ultrasounds.
Education on all options with an unplanned pregnancy.
Yes, She Can! Student Mom Scholarship.
Journey Through Motherhood Mentoring Program.
Community resource referrals.
After abortion care.
Baby Showers of Hope.
For more information:
- Website: choosehope.org
- Phone: (828) 265-4357
- Address: 208 Howard St, Boone, NC 28607
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