A Gilmer nonprofit that has been providing women and men with help for unplanned pregnancies since January 2017 will celebrate its growth Friday with a grand reopening.
The Open Door Pregnancy Center’s event is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will include a ribbon cutting, barbecue lunch, the unveiling of a new logo and a building dedication at its facility at 1561 U.S. 271 in Gilmer.
“I am proud that the ministry has experienced steady growth every year,” Director Teresa Owen said. “We have seen parents start making healthy choices for themselves and their families. Those choices mean that lives are being changed.”
The center is a faith-based organization that offers “a safe and caring place to get help with unplanned pregnancies by offering physical, emotional, and spiritual support,” according to its Facebook page. It offers services such as pregnancy testing, limited OB ultrasound, a voucher program, pregnancy counseling and post-abortion recovery to the Gilmer area.
By the end of 2019, the organization had served 238 total clients, performed 93 ultrasounds and had a total of 526 visits, according to information provided by the center.
Initially the center was a branch of The Work, a faith-centered community development organization.
“In September of 2019 we assumed ownership of the entire building, making renovations and restructuring the use of the building,” Owen said, while speaking about the center’s long-term security. “As a ministry that is three to four years old, we are looking to see what we can do to build a sustainable ministry. As an organization, if the pregnancy center has its location secured that is a form of long-term security. We want the building to be an asset, not a liability.”
The center, which is funded by individuals, churches, grants and typically two annual fundraisers, plans to pay down its mortgage by leasing out office space in its building — three of four available spaces are currently occupied — and renting out the events center and conference room.
Since opening, the center has expanded its Earn While You Learn program, an educational program for parents. It includes parenting classes, prenatal classes, Bible study and life coaching. The program includes online classes, as well as Child Protective Services parenting classes and abortion recovery Bible study.
“For every hour they spend here, or online with us now doing educational classes, they earn ten voucher dollars that can be spent in the baby store,” Owen said.
The baby store has grown from a closet of essential items needed to raise a baby into an entire room of items like clothes and diapers.
On Friday the building, currently named The Center, will be renamed to the Roy M. Brown Life Center in memory of Brown, a prominent member of the Gilmer community who died in August 2019.
Brown was a believer in the program and supported it financially, emotionally and spiritually, Owen stated.
For more information about the Open Door Pregnancy Center, visit opendoorpregnancycenter.com or call (903) 797-0774.