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Bedford Pregnancy Center Executive Director Lori Lewis (right) and volunteer Kim Kling staff the center's reception desk. Photo courtesy of Jerry Hale
Friday, July 19, 2013
This is the third in a series of stories profiling charities that will benefit from the Smith Mountain Lake Charity Home Tour, Oct. 11-13.
The Bedford Pregnancy Center is a non denominational Christian outreach that provides for women in pregnancy-related situations. The staff and volunteers are dedicated to meeting the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of pregnant women in an atmosphere of total acceptance and confidentiality.
The center makes new life possible for many young women who might otherwise have thought they couldn’t handle motherhood.
In 2005, community and church leaders were alarmed to discover that Bedford County had one of the highest teen-pregnancy rates in Virginia. They set out to create the Bedford Pregnancy Center and invited Lori Lewis to lead the charity on its journey of service to Bedford, Moneta and surrounding communities.
A vibrant executive director, Lewis provides leadership and inspiration to both clients and co-workers. With a degree in clinical psychology and master’s in counseling, the mother of two said she believes it is the work of many dedicated volunteers and donors that makes the center possible.
“Women find a limitless supply of maternity and baby needs in our Baby Boutique,” Lewis said.
Donors provide new and gently used items of clothing, diapers, receiving blankets, toys and nursery supplies. As many as 30 volunteers assist at every level, from answering the phones, to cooking, baking and picking up donations. Students from Liberty University volunteer to take care of little ones while moms are attending classes. There is a new bible study offered on Thursdays from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
Earn While You Learn is the centerpiece of the center’s outreach, providing a structured teaching model throughout pregnancy, labor, delivery and beyond.
“We help new mothers make wise and healthy choices for themselves and their babies, including nutrition counseling, cooking classes, breast-feeding support and parenting,” said Lewis. “We’re even there to help them weather the “terrible twos.’ ”
“Women earn Blessing Bucks by their class attendance, enabling them to shop for free in the Baby Boutique,” Lewis explained. “Some ask us to help them find jobs. Some just really need baby supplies. We offer free and accurate pregnancy testing with immediate results. We are here for them throughout their journey with unconditional love and support. We get invited to lots of birthday parties, graduations and weddings.”
Volunteers who serve as client advocates receive mandatory training each year. The center handles 75-100 clients annually. It is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays.
In November 2011, the Bedford Pregnancy Center moved to its current home at 813 East Main St. in Bedford. Churches and other donors help pay the mortgage and keep the lights on; the SML Charity Home Tour is among them, providing critical funds needed to keep the center going.
In April, volunteers helped organize the center’s first 5K “The Glow” fun run. More than 150 runners participated. But the need for volunteers and fundraising events is ongoing. The center’s wish list includes a paved parking lot, kitchen equipment, some basic carpentry and landscaping for the property.
“It speaks to the heart of this community that we are united in our love for children and love for life,” said Lewis. “We are blessed by those who counsel, who hammer nails and wash the baby clothes. Every gift counts, no matter how large or small. I have never had a woman say to me, ‘I wish I had not had this child.’ ”
For more information about the Bedford Pregnancy Center, call 587-5900 or visit email@example.com. For more information about the home tour, visit www.smlcharityhometour.com .
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