There is often stigma or shame associated with an unexpected pregnancy, especially under certain circumstances.
However, women in the Gainesville/Hall County area facing an unplanned pregnancy do not have to do so alone. They have choices with Choices Pregnancy Care Center.
Located off of Green Street in downtown Gainesville, Choices is a Christian nonprofit that encourages women to proceed with the pregnancy, rather than having an abortion, and offers a variety of services to help them do so.
"We're here to love, we're not here to judge," said Lee Koz, executive director of Choices. "They need good medical information and they need some good spiritual guidance, this is the place to come because we're here to love and we're here to serve."
Some of the services offered at Choices include a pregnancy test, free ultrasound and free prenatal vitamins.
Staff also educate women on what to expect during their pregnancy and, in the instance the mother wants to put her baby up for adoption, recommend a reputable, Christian adoption agency.
In addition, Choices offers a "baby boutique" program. This program is a step-by-step guide to caring for a baby, and with each completed class, the mother and her participating family members earn "momma money" to spend in the nonprofit's in-house store.
"A lot of girls in this situation don't have training, they don't have experience and in some cases they don't have a support network," said Koz. "We bring them in, we give them training on how to feed their baby, proper nutrition, how to change a baby's diaper and sleep schedule."
Koz said the program is offered online, as well, for women who cannot come to the nonprofit in-person.
In some instances, women approach Choices Pregnancy Care Center after they have had an abortion. Koz said there is a place for them too, in the Post Abortion Support Team.
"We're not here to judge her or thump her over the head with a Bible and say, 'I told you so'," said Koz. "Our Post Abortion Support Team, our PAST class, these are women who have had abortions in their youth and they've had to go through these struggles, sometimes decades, and they're here to help those other women."
Staff with Choices Pregnancy Care Center are currently in the process of raising money to fund a renovation of their facility. Koz said private donations and a grant will help fund the approximately $400,000 project, which will include knocking down an inside staircase and modernizing the interior of the building.
The exterior of the building will remain close to the same in accordance with its location in the historic area.
In the meantime, all are welcome to partake in the center’s services. In addition to the pregnancy care, Choices offers low cost Sexually Transmitted Infection tests and information on STIs.
All anyone has to do is walk through the front door.
"We do not turn anyone away...we accept all people, all religions, all races, all backgrounds," said Koz. "We're not here to judge or get people in trouble or anything. We do follow the boundaries of the law, but we're here to serve and we're here to love."
For Goodness Sake is a monthly series highlighting nonprofits in the North Georgia area. Have a non-profit that you would like to see featured? Email the author at [email protected]!