By Liesl Greathouse
MONTROSE–The Life Choices Family Resource Center has been an important part of the community for more than 27 years. It provides many services for single mothers and fathers, babies, grandparents and young adults.
The Life Choices Center was started in 1985 solely as a pregnancy center to help pregnant teen girls in the area. It started out in a small basement, eventually mov- ing into the office they currently occupy at 200 S. 4th Street in Montrose.
In order to raise funds, the Center (which is a non-profit organization, accepting no government funding), held an Ice Cream Social in September at Montrose Christian Church. The event provided free ice cream to visitors and various presentations were held on the many services that the Center provides.
In addition to providing free pregnancy tests, the Center also holds many classes for expectant mothers and fathers. The most popular is the Earn While You Learn (EWYL) program, a series of lessons on everything that new parents need to know. Participants earn ‘Baby Bucks’ that they can spend at the Center’s Baby Boutique, allowing new parents to get baby clothes and diapers, among many other things.
One of the mentors with EWYL, Cindy Blackman, said, “We build relationships with the moms. When you are in it, you fall in love with the girls and their babies.”
The Center also has Daddy Classes for new fathers, which includes having an older father mentor the young men in child -rearing and how to be a good partner to the moms.
The Center’s Extreme Grandparenting classes help new grandparents gain confi- dence in helping and enjoying their new grandchildren.
Women who have gone through an abor- tion may join the Surrendering the Secret class. The class is aimed at helping wom- en heal from any negative effects that they may have gone through after an abortion.
Anita Daly, the Center’s education coor- dinator, helps many of the women who come in for a pregnancy test. 74% of the pregnancy tests come back negative. She said, “I want to try and reach the girls with the negative tests.” She also works with young girls all over the community to help them avoid making unhealthy lifestyle choices.
For young girls ages 8 and up, the Center offers the Fashioned For Fun program. Anita said, “I want to educate young wom- en about themselves, how their bodies work, and how to build relationships with their parents.”
The program is a one-day event where girls learn about their personalities, how to make good decisions about their health, how to have safe relationships with others, and much more.
“We help affirm the parents,” Anita ex- plained. “We try to get good information to the girls in fun ways.”
The program is portable and can be a one day event held anywhere.
Anita also heads up Beautiful U, which is aimed at girls 13 and older. She said, “Our culture is pushing kids at younger and younger ages to be ‘sexy’ or start dating.” She decided to try and use modeling as a ‘hook’ for young women who would come in for a pregnancy test.
Beautiful U is a six week program where girls participate in classes that cover their physical, intellectual and emotional well- beings. At the end of the program, the girls get to have a sitting with a profes- sional photographer.
So far, 15 girls have graduated, and the
program is now in book form so other mentors at the Center and around the com- munity can teach the class to their own clients.
Anyone can get involved with helping at the Life Choices Center, from cleaning the offices to becoming a mentor in various classes. The Center always aims to find fun ways to volunteer.
For more information about the Life Choices Family Resource Center, their classes, or to volunteer, call 970-249-4302, check them out online at pregnancycenter- montrose.org or visit the Center at 200 S. 4th Street in Montrose, Tues-Thurs, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.