LifeLine Pregnancy Help Center has been serving Elkin and surrounding communities since 1997. Located at 525 Samaritans Ridge Court in Elkin, the volunteer-based nonprofit has provided services leading to the birth of more than 500 babies.
Executive Director Sharon Kelly has been involved with the organization from its inception, serving on the initial steering committee. “Our pastor had preached a sermon on the sanctity of life, and I was really stirred by that,” said Kelly, explaining her desire to act on her beliefs.
Kelly began talking with friends and together they researched what is involved in opening a center. Canvassing the area for a need, “the answer was overwhelmingly, yes,” Kelly said.
A Christian ministry, LifeLine provides services to men and women related to pregnancy and parenting children up to two years. The center serves an average of 60 clients per year, totalling about 800 visits. “I want to stress that all of our services are free and confidential,” said Kelly.
Their current facility, owned by Dr. Emidio Novembre, contains a reception area, counseling rooms, ultrasound room, classroom and kitchen. A special feature is the baby boutique, where clients can shop for diapers, gently-used clothing, and other supplies.
Working in cooperation with health departments in Surry, Yadkin and Wilkes counties, the center offers pregnancy testing, verification and first trimester ultrasounds. “We’ve gone through all the steps that are required to be a medical clinic,” said Kelly. The medical team includes Dr. Stephen Walker, Dr. John Venus and June Philip, RN.
Education is an important aspect of what the clinic offers. Consultations include information on all legal options: parenting, adoption, and abortion. “Everything that we give them is factual and medically accurate,” said Kelly. Ongoing pregnancy support and after-abortion counseling are included.
A curriculum of more than 200 lessons teaches prenatal, childbirth, and parenting topics. Group childbirth classes are open to the public for a $25 fee. Attending one-on-one classes earns participants points to be used in the baby boutique. The center also shares information about community resources for pregnancy and new parents.
A new program, called Dads Matter, is now available for fathers and expecting fathers. “We’ve seen more men coming in, and we feel like maybe they need more than just tagging along with the mother,” explained Kelly. Three male volunteers already have been trained in the program.
LifeLine often works with clients on a regular basis for more than two years. “We bond with them, and we become good friends,” said Kelly, noting she is still in touch with several families over 10 years later.
Kelly emphasized she will not make any decisions for the clients, but wants them to have all the information available when making their choice. “I believe that life begins at conception and that each life is important: baby, mother, and father,” she said.
“Confidentiality is high on our list. I think it’s important that they are assured of that,” said Kelly. LifeLine strives to show non-judgmental compassion, and is careful to work closely with volunteers before allowing them contact with clients.
The center has about 20 weekly volunteers and more for special events. “We couldn’t do it without the volunteers,” Kelly said. All volunteers go through an application process and volunteer training. Volunteers help with fundraisers, administrative duties, assisting in the boutique, and working one-on-one with clients.
LifeLine receives financial support from churches and individuals. The Maternal and Child Health grant through the state of NC has provided $8,000 for each of the last three cycles. In addition, the center holds three annual fundraisers.
Blessings in a Bottle takes place in January. This year 800 baby bottles were distributed to area churches. “People can pick up a baby bottle, fill it with change, cash, or check,” explained Kelly. The churches then collect the bottles and return them to LifeLine. According to Kelly, the ministry raised $10,000 in baby bottles last year.
The Walk for Life will take place on May 13 at 6 p.m. at Elkin Park. There are two routes, either through town or in the park. Walkers register and collect money through sponsors. Registration can be done online or on paper. “We have lunch for them, and it’s just a fun time,” said Kelly.
A fundraising dinner takes place in the fall. “We have a guest speaker and a nice dinner,” said Kelly, adding people make pledges or one-time gifts at the event. Details for this year’s event have not been finalized.
A former client and her son were invited to attend Babies go to Congress in Washington, D.C. last year. “That boy, 14 years old, said, ‘I just want to thank LifeLine for being there for my mom, because if not I wouldn’t have this cool life that I have now,’” said Kelly, sharing how honored she feels to be able to impact others lives.
Additional information is available at www.lifelinehelps.org or by calling 336-526-5433.
Diane Blakemore may be reached at 336-368-2222 or on twitter @PilotReporter.