This is the sixth in a monthly series highlighting non-profit organizations in Robertson County.
Simply put, the goal of the Open Door Pregnancy & Resource Center is “to invest and help families in our community and to have a foundation,” Executive Director Shawn Elmore says.
Whether it’s helping someone facing an unexpected pregnancy; providing material assistance like maternity and baby clothes, diapers and formula; or offering life coaching or parent educational classes for someone wanting to increase their knowledge, Open Door Pregnancy is here to serve, according to Elmore.
But it’s also much more than that, she explains.
While those at Open Door Pregnancy aren’t social workers, they help direct individuals to other social services, including WIC (Women, Infants and Children), food assistance — even addiction services and adoption referrals.
Post-abortion recovery services are also available.
Supervised visitations for the courts and private visitation scenarios that may arise can also be facilitated on site.
“We are like a wagon wheel,” added Elmore, noting that all services are free and confidential, with a small, sliding scale for private visitation scenarios. “We just want to lead them to the resources they need.”
In 2020 alone, the center had 4,880 “client encounters” with more than 3,200 this year by late June.
Elmore explained that the number of people Open Door has seen is actually much higher as the figures only factor in a mother or father, not children.
The non-profit distributed more than 220,000 diapers in 2020 alone.
Open Door Pregnancy funding does not come via federal dollars, Elmore explained, but locally — community partners, churches and businesses, as well as individual donors.
“We have a single mom who gives $5 a month, because we impacted her life,” Elmore added.
The agency, which opened its doors in 2008, relocated in January to a new location on South Main Street in Springfield where it continues its mission — within a larger facility, one that’s been remodeled to fit the needs of the work it undertakes day-in-and-day-out.
It’s the hub of where the non-profit’s staff and “army of volunteers” make it all come together for its clients.
Locals may know the building as the former Eastern Dark Fired Tobacco Growers Association Building, 1109 S. Main St. But today, it’s filled with educational rooms, counseling areas, kitchen facilities, laundry, storage for baby supplies, and a future ultrasound space.
And upon entering, “Gigi’s Boutique” is one of the first spaces in sight — a place where clients use “Baby Bucks” — points, not money, earned via participation in educational classes or positive actions in a client’s daily life — to purchase materials like baby clothes and other supplies.
And on the heels of its relocation, Elmore said plans are underway for its former location, on Meadowbrook Drive, to be yet another avenue for its clients.
“The old location will be used as a branch for extended services such as: visitation, a counseling location, a meeting place for new groups,” she added. “It will be a community-type place. We want to make connections with that place.”
The Connection recently visited with Elmore, to learn what more the community could do to support the work, specific needs it currently faces, and her feelings on being part of the Open Door Pregnancy & Resource Center team.
What needs does the Open Door Pregnancy Center have and what can the public do to help?
“Basically our needs are financial gifts and supply needs for clients — including diapers, formula and wipes. We need to keep our lights on and keep the doors open.”
Is there a particular item or items that Open Door Pregnancy typically runs out of quickly that donors could keep in mind?
“Diapers size 4,5,6. That’s the greatest need on an ongoing basis because babies go to the bathroom more when they get those sizes. And car seats and baby beds. Those are the three major things we typically run out of. People can also contribute gift cards so we can buy when we need it.”
Tell us a fond memory when working with a client of Open Door Pregnancy and how it made you feel?
“There are so many. But our fondest memories are working with our families who are hopeless and watching that hope be restored. For example, a mom with nothing for her baby — no socks, no formula, not even a blanket, and we were able to help her with everything she needed for her baby. We’ve had a single mom with no food, no resources and we were able to help her. We’ve had reunification of families in our parenting program. We had a mother whose baby was drinking water for three days, and we were able to help her with formula. Now she’s a donor, and that child is 11-years-old. Our thing is helping people find hope when they are hopeless. We had a client in a crisis pregnancy, and she chose life, and her baby is six months old. It makes me feel so small. It makes me happy to be a little part of someone’s story. You guys may see a building, but the public doesn’t see the lives we touch.”
For more information about the Open Door Pregnancy & Resource Center and its services, call 615-384-4673 or stop by its location at 1109 S. Main St.
Its hours of operation are Monday and Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Its website is https://615-384hope.org