With a desire to reach more young women experiencing unplanned pregnancies and to help more local families, the director and board of Lewistown, Montana’s Inspire Pregnancy Outreach Center relocated the organization in 2020 and has experienced an increased number of people coming to the new space for services, especially youth.
“I knew we needed a more discreet location,” said Linda Peterson, center director. “We needed a place where the young girls would come see us.”
Previously, Inspire was located not far from the high school, a setting that inhibited young women from walking into the center.
“Everybody knows everybody’s car here,” she said. “Now, even though we’re located near Main Street, the girls can park anywhere. We’re attached to a hair salon and there’s a coffee shop behind us – no one knows they’ve been to our center; it could be the hair salon or the coffee shop.”
Located in a large mobile home previously, Inspire now takes up two store fronts, a size of 2,700 square feet.
“It’s three to four times larger than where we were,” Peterson said.
Transformation to life-affirming beauty
A complete remodel was needed. The building, a former shop, “was a disaster,” Peterson said.
“But as soon as I saw it, I could envision how we could make it work,” she said. “Now, it’s gorgeous!”
She and her group of volunteers moved into the new space in February 2020. Then COVID-19 hit.
“We closed our doors (for a while),” Peterson said. “It was a crazy, weird time.”
The virus impacted not only the center’s ability to offer pregnancy tests and material assistance, but the organization’s income as well. Peterson usually visits a different church in town every month, providing updates and offering baby bottles to congregants as an on-going fundraiser. COVID put that on hold. However, financial help came through a Montana family foundation and a COVID Relief Grant from the State of Montana.
Donors in the community also “stepped up,” she said.
“We ended up being okay,” Peterson said. “We have a generous community and (the family foundation) helped as well.”
That generosity includes helping to stock up on materials, like clothing and diapers.
“Our boutique is full,” she said. “I look around at this beautiful space, filled to the brim, and say, ‘Look at what you’ve done, God.’ He is so good!”
Helping more young women
Upon re-opening, Peterson said the center has experienced an increase in the number of high school girls stopping in for pregnancy tests. Young women like “Angie.”
A junior, this young woman would likely would not have come by the former location because of its proximity to the high school and how the parking was set up, Peterson said.
“Her mom sent her to see us. She took a pregnancy test and she decided to keep the baby,” she said. “She’s come by a few times, and I’m hoping to see her more as she gets closer to her due date.”
Another time a young man called the center and asked about picking up a pregnancy test. Peterson met with him and gave him the test. A few days later, he called again and asked for two more tests, which she provided.
“I asked if he was the father, and he said, ‘No, I’m doing this for my little sister.’ The girl contacted me later and said she was negative. It gave me the opportunity to talk with her about (about abstinence),” Peterson said. “Good stuff is happening.”
Inspire has been part of the Lewistown community for more than 30 years. The center offers free pregnancy tests, options education, an Earn While You Learn program, the Baby Boutique, and an abortion recovery program.
Tweet This: Inspire Pregnancy Outreach Center is now in a larger space, able to serve more young women, looking to add more services
Growth and a new vision
In addition to the new location, more people have come on board as volunteers, she said. The number serving at the center doubled in 2020.
“We’re growing,” she said.
As 2021 unfolds, Peterson’s sights are set on another large goal: to become a medical clinic and provide ultrasounds.
“It’s a big goal, but we have the space,” she said. “When I first looked at this building, I could envision the exact spot for an ultrasound machine.”
She intends to research how to make that goal a reality this year.
Just as Peterson and the Inspire board of directors made the dream she’d had for years of a larger, better location come to fruition in 2020, no doubt they will find a way to make the goal of offering ultrasounds happen as well.