Members of Christian Life Center established a confidential resource center for low-income mothers and mothers-to-be in April.
SOURCE Pregnancy Care Center, directed by Sherry Parker, sits next to the Christian Life Center on Flat Shoals Road and provides free pregnancy testing as well as formula and clothing to mothers in emergency situations.
Parker said Judith West, co-pastor of Christian Life Center, once had a young homeless woman come to her for a place to stay. The woman was pregnant with twins and had not arrived at a shelter in time to have a bed.
This woman inspired West to establish a resource center in Covington.
"It's not just needed here in Covington, but in all of the counties," Parker said.
SOURCE Pregnancy Care Center can provide formula and diapers to women in desperate need as well as infant, toddler and maternity clothes.
"We want them to know that what seems like a crisis," Parker said, "is really a blessing."
Parker said if a woman comes into the center and tests positive for pregnancy, they try to explain every option to her so she can make an educated decision about what to do.
"The choice is always the client's," Parker said, "but we need them to know all the facts."
As a Christian center, Parker said her and other volunteers' ultimate goal is to have the mothers who seek their help carry their babies to full-term.
"I know where the women are coming from because years ago I aborted two babies," Parker said.
Parker said no one explained to her the physical and emotional turmoil associated with abortion that haunted her for years.
She attributes a number of health problems she experiences to the procedures and said she was riddled with guilt and depression once she was married and actually trying to conceive.
Parker, now a mother of three, said she wants other women to know all the effects of abortion so they do not suffer as she did.
She said some women handle the surgery with no ill effects, and others later have a difficult time coping with the decision they made, so everyone should be educated on alternative options.
The center is not solely for teenage or unwed mothers, Parker said. She said fathers have come to the center for formula and business women have come to the center for guidance.
According to Parker, some working women do not want to put their career on hold for children.
"The thing is, they can have it all if they know what resources there are out there," Parker said. "It doesn't have to stop them from anything - it should be their motivation."
Other volunteers at the center have poignant reasons for working for free.
Feeling neglected in her marriage years ago, Cleveland Williams had an affair and became pregnant.
She struggled in choosing the fate of her unborn child.
"I had left Christ," Williams said, "but I knew the word."
She decided to tell her husband and keep the baby. Her husband eventually forgave her, and after years of concealment she divulged her secret to her family who also forgave her.
Williams feels working at the center is a way to repay the forgiveness, love and compassion shown to her and to let other mothers know what a blessing all of her children are.
"We are a Christian center, but we don't expose Christ by pushing him on anyone," Williams said. "We know that God will flourish this center and make it successful and that if we show love and care that we will bring souls to Christ."
Angela Dearing, also a volunteer, said she waited until she was married to have sex and wants to spread a message of self-respect to teenagers.
"I feel like the reason I'm here is to teach responsibility and self-value," Dearing said. "There's so much more to who you can become personally when you value yourself."
Dearing said teenagers are often pressured to conform to superficial standards such as appearance in clothing as well as having sex before they are ready.
When she counsels teenagers, she tells them they are a gift wrapped with a bow ,and God will let them know when the present is ready to be unwrapped.
She said after a presentation she gave, one teenager came up to her and said she had never thought of things in the way she had explained them.
Dearing felt reaching one person out of 15 was better than not trying and reaching no one.
SOURCE volunteers have gone through 15 hours of training conducted by the American Mission Board based in Alpharetta. As part of being an AMB affiliate, the center must report traffic, services given and donations monthly to the organization.
Parker said she is so grateful to her staff - Williams, Dearing and Lucinda Rowe - for the long hours they log and loving hearts they bring to the center. "My staff has even gone to their own pocket to keep things stocked here," Parker said.
Parker, Williams, Dearing and Rowe receive no pay for their work but said knowing they have helped someone by simply showing compassion is payment enough.
"Anything that's worth doing is worth the hard work," Parker said, "and we're in it for the long haul."
Parker said volunteers strive to create friendships and a support network for those who visit the center.
Future goals of SOURCE volunteers included offering parenting classes and purchasing an ultrasound machine.
She added that the needs which cannot be met by the Department of Family and Child Services because of an overwhelming case load should be met by members of the community.
"People should be able to give," Parker said, "and not expect anything in return."
To volunteer at SOURCE Pregnancy Care Center, call Sherry Parker at (770) 786-1531.
Donations can be made with credit card, a check made payable to SOURCE Pregnancy Care Center or in person at 10258 Flat Shoals Road, Covington.