This document was prepared as a record and expression of the thankfulness that we, the current staff and volunteers, feel for the many people who were resolute in their service, giving selflessly during the formative years and “middle ages” of this ministry. Upon the foundation of their prayers and labor, we carry on the mission using this building, just purchased, as a home base from which we’ll help, using the wisdom and grace found in Christ, those who come to navigate life’s choices. May the Lord be praised!
A Historical Account of New Beginnings Pregnancy Care Center
Birthright was the first crisis pregnancy center in Grand Rapids, MN, but closed due to a lack of volunteers. Yvonne Warren, who felt led by God to re-establish a local center, organized a group from the area to visit Agape Pregnancy Center in Fergus Falls, MN, on Oct. 15, 2004. That group led the effort to create a nonprofit organization and conducted their first meeting a month later. To obtain 501©(3) status, they declared the official name to be “Brephos Pregnancy Center” because brephos is the Greek word for baby used in Luke 1:44 and is used for both an unborn baby in the womb and a newborn child. Their first official Board of Directors meeting was conducted on May 15, 2005, with Pastor Dan Domke as Chairman.
The Center was housed in part of the Schroeder’s building at 1109 NW 4th Street in Grand Rapids and was open Tuesdays 5-8 p.m., and Saturdays 10 a.m.-1 p.m. After outgrowing that space, it moved to 20 NE 4th St. (near the intersection of Highways 169 and 2) in October of 2007. Concerns about client confidentiality and privacy arose a few years later, which led to another relocation in November of 2010, to 1833 W. Hwy. 2, Suite C, in the Hawk Construction building. To be more centrally located, the office relocated on Dec. 31, 2014, to 112 NW 5th Street. Currently, the office is at 205 NE 4th Street, in a facility purchased on May 1, 2019.
At the outset, Board members volunteered to accomplish the mission by serving on various committees including Finance, Gift Development, Personnel, Program, Properties, Public Relations/Marketing, Strategic Planning, and Prayer. A few years later other committees were formed: Nominations (2009) and Center Operations (2010). They produced a newsletter called The Rattle. Programs offered to clients in 2006 were Conquerors post-abortion healing program, Teen Childbirth Education, Teen Parenting Class, Firm Foundations led by Brittney and Jesse Gibson, and Adoption Training.
When Pastor Domke left the area, Craig Nelson led the Board from 2008-2010 (Who led in 2011?) Others who served as Directors and leaders during the early years were: Doug Aitken-Vice Chair, Melissa Erb-joined and became Fundraising Chair starting in Sept., 2006, Dr. Kion Hoffman-Medical Advisory, Eileen Hoffman-Adoption Resource, Pat Janssen, Jennifer Mariano-Treasurer, Carolyn McElfatrick-Prayer Cmte., Sue Nelson-Secretary and Asst. Director, Jerry Ophoven-Legal Advisory, Mary Ott-Prayer Cmte., Kathy Schroeder (followed by John Schroeder in 2009)-Public Relations Chair, Pastor Starkey, Kathy Theis-Finance Chair. Brittany & Jesse Gibson, Jennifer Skaar gave promotional presentations to churches.
Most of the Board members and the Exec. Director served continuously the first six years, and left as their legacy a functioning Center with a passionate purpose and great potential. Dr. Kion Hoffman chaired the Board for seven years, beginning in 2011, starting with this team: Jill Antilla, Pastor Wade Freshour, Lynnete How, Kay Krueger, Mary Ott, and Ruth Walker, and Exec. Dir. Tammy Moore. They worked to raise operational funds and struggled with the ongoing challenge of retaining consultants when few clients came. Consultants were pressed to give more time to keep the doors open. A few years later, several part time staff jobs were created to resolve the scheduling issue, so volunteers were only needed to be a second person for security purposes. Most of the Board committee roles morphed into those staff positions, so the Board members of recent years serve in more of an advisory capacity for policy-related matters, decisions required by law, providing long-range planning and oversight of the Exec. Director, along with supporting funding efforts.
New Board members joined in 2010, Pastor Wade Freshour, who became the Spiritual Advisor, Pam Luoma-Treasurer and Colleen Vaneps-Vice Chair PR/Marketing. In 2011, Ruth Walker came aboard and in 2012, Jill Antilla and Lynette How (Secretary) served a few years on the Board. Kay Krueger was trained in as a consultant in 2012, was 2013 Banquet keynote speaker, and then Treasurer until 2016, until Marilyn Carlson joined in 2016. Lee Ellies’ first term began in August, 2014, and served as Secretary, but passed that role to Nicole Miersch, in 2016. Matt Harrington and Pastor Mark Peske joined the Board that year and served for a year. Both staff, Bobbie Harrington and Laurie Marshall, joined the Board after retiring as staff. Renee Weedman (2015 Banquet keynote speaker) and Pastor Matt Boyd, who was an answer to a number of prayers for a pastor, a younger member, and a male.
Founding member Yvonne Warren, served as the first volunteer Director, a position that was re-titled shortly thereafter to Exec. Dir. and was compensated with a small stipend for 20 hours a week starting Feb. 2007. When she resigned in April, 2012, Tammy Moore filled the role from April, 2012-Nov., 2013. Suzan Nelson became the Asst. Dir. in 2008, with no record of when that changed or ended. In 2014, Laurie Marshall was hired as Office Administrator and was later promoted to Exec. Dir. on 12-14-15. Shortly after Laurie started, Bobbie McInerney (Harrington) was hired as Public Relations Director. During their service together as staff, along with the Board of Directors, volunteers, and groups like the Kiwannis Club, they raised $30,000 for the purchase of the ultrasound machine.
The years 2014-2015 could be called a time of promotion. The YMCA adopted our Dad’s Group as a pilot program to host a handful of men at that site led by Pastor Wade using the 24/7 Dads curriculum. Major changes occurred to increase “brand recognition”, that is, awareness of the Center itself as well as the underutilized programs. After extensive discussion, the name was changed to New Beginnings Pregnancy Care Center (11-24-14) in order to communicate more effectively to a younger, secular audience. The Center also moved to 112 NW 5th St., across from the Post Office mailbox, to be more centrally located for visibility and to have more space for an ultrasound room. A few years later, yet another space was rented there for the boutique since the educational programs expanded and required additional space. In order for clients to access one of our local, caring consultants, an additional texting phone number was added. Consultant Kate Ophoven, wrote a blog to revive the Facebook page. Several adoption placements resulted because of the Center’s referrals including one facilitated in 2009 through New Horizons and another through Bethany Christian Services in 2015. Carol Goetz, R.N., was hired as Nurse Manager for 5 hours a week in January, 2015, but left seven months later, when her husband took a pastoral position out of state. Laurie Marshall was promoted from Office Administrator to Exec. Director in 2015. Also later that year, the Statement of Faith was shortened to seven points, including a definition of marriage.
To solidify connections to area churches, the Church Representatives Initiative was developed during 2015 and the Reps met for the first time in Feb. 2016. That summer we purchased the Ultrasound machine and began advertising in the IRA Civic Center Hockey Arena. In the fall of 2016, Laurie purchased E-kyros, a comprehensive web-based client, donor, and staff management software system designed specifically for the unique needs of pregnancy centers and she trained intensively to make use of its features.
During the year the Nurse Manager position was vacant, volunteer grant writer Andrea Sanborn worked with the staff to successfully apply for the Minnesota Dept. of Health Positive Alternatives grant to fund a Nurse Manager position, which Amanda Wheelock, R.N., filled on January 9, 2017. The target program to promote and measure results for the first two years of the grant was car seats and the third year was lactation support.
Bobbie Harrington stepped down at the end of November, 2016, and a number of staffing changes followed. The Public Relations/Fundraising Director position was filled for half a year by Rachel Knoop, who resigned to continue her other part-time job with its travel requirements. Kathy Metzer filled the role with its revised title of Outreach Coordinator in July, 2017. Several part-time positions were created midway through that year including Grant Assistant for reporting data that was filled by Andrea Sanborn in May, and Office Asst./Program Coordinator filled by long-time Consultant, Tammi Helmuth, in July.
Those five staff members along with other volunteers created a busy center, so much so that a third day of operation was added in September, 2017, with funding provided by First Evangelical Lutheran Church. Jill Almendinger was hired as Client Advocate to staff Wednesdays. Office hours were Tues., Wed., and Thurs., from 1-6 p.m. In the fall of 2017, Tammi initiated a partnership with Cradles of Hope so NBPCC could become a distributor of free Pack N Plays to clients who receive Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and safe sleep environments instruction. Laurie submitted a letter stating her desire to resign in September to have time to help her family, but agreed to stay on to help identify and train the new Executive Director. That transition took place in January, 2018, with the hiring of Amanda Jo Grovenburg.
The Center crossed a record setting month by providing 101 services in the month of October, 2018, and has had consistently strong service numbers ever since. Some of the reasons for the dramatic escalation of services provided have been the staff’s certification to provide free car seats and installations and the arrival of the ultrasound machine in July of 2016, along with the MN Dept. of Health grant to fund the nurse manager position. Area sonographers, Diane Keeney and Tonya _____, volunteered their services one night a week as needed until the Nurse Mgr. was hired and fully certified. Dr. Tom Howard volunteered to read the scans.
On October 9, 2017, the Board voted to change the mission statement, to its present form, while also adding a vision statement explaining how we accomplish the mission. The addition of “in Jesus name” was added September, 2018, and then that phrase was moved to the end of the Vision statement in April, 2019. The current wording is, “MISSION: to offer compassion, hope and help to empower people and promote life. VISION: We envision a community where all children are cared for from conception, parents have the opportunity to learn how to develop a safe and loving home, and those who have been hurt by prior choices can receive forgiveness and healing through the love of Jesus.”
Several major milestones were reached in 2019. We congratulated our first graduate of the Earn While You Learn program. The Wheelock Chiropractic Clinic building was purchased on May 1, 2019. Businesses donated materials and an army of volunteers accomplished the remodeling and move including carpenters Gary Edwards and Dale Geisler, Our Redeemer Lutheran’s Christ’s Crew, Joe and Brenda Letendre, Mark Wahlrabe, and many others. The office opened a month later, culminating in an Open House celebration on July 25. After the move, Brenda LeTendre, who took charge of the boutique earlier that year, was hired as a Client Advocate (6-10-19), to cover the Thursday shift previously covered by staff who wanted to cut back hors. To better meet client and staff needs, the office hours changed to Tuesdays, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., and Wednesdays and Thursdays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
A generous couple donated a large warehouse-type building in Deer River in August, 2019, with hope that it would be used to save lives and support the adoption option when appropriate. One section will be used to provide NBPCC services while the larger portion will house other ministries. Partnership goals include the free Wee Care clothing closet currently operating out of Deer River Church of God as well as maternity housing and transitional housing for sexually-exploited women to be managed by SweetWater Girls Ranch.
The Center continues to flourish in meeting clients at their point of need because of God’s blessing in bringing dedicated staff and volunteers with the right skills and sustaining funds from generous donors and grants. It has catapulted into its present stage of GROWTH, now extending into the heart of Deer River, which is an ideal location to better serve family needs on the northwest end of the county, especially the Native American Indian population. More open hours, more clients, more volunteers, more programs, more services provided – exciting opportunities to share the love of Jesus.
Psalm 22:30 A posterity shall serve Him. It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation, they will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born, That He has done this.