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Hands of Hope offers support
for crises pregnancies

From the Dec. 27, 2018 issue of The Journal
   * Note: This story is reprinted with permission from Sumter Living Magazine. Hands of Hope is located in Americus, but serves all of the surrounding counties.
By June B. Anderson
   It always amazes me that some people can be simultaneously balls of fire and calm as a cucumber. This very well describes Kymberly Carter. As we sit and talk, she looks me in the eye and answers every question with diligent conservation and a beautiful smile, her big eyes kind and soft.
   Kymberly was born in Warner Robins and moved to Utah at the age of ten. She met Aaron and they married in November 1999, relocating to Sumter County in 2012. Her parents and grandparents are from Buena Vista, although her parents, siblings and their families have remained in

Utah. Kymberly attended Pinewiew High School in St. George, Utah, has a B.A. in psychology from Grand Canyon University. Her main hobby is reading non-fiction, mostly biographies and autobiographies. That's pretty impressive when you realize she discovered in the ninth grade that she had a severe reading deficit, tackled it, overcame it, and has become a voracious reader. She has an ardent desire to help people and to share God's love and His Word with them.
   There is one thing that she has a particularly fervent love for…the Hands of Hope Pregnancy and Resources Center, formerly known as Americus Crisis Pregnancy Center, a non-profit, life affirming pregnancy resource agency in crisis pregnancies. It is obvious that Kym pours her heart into this place of encouragement and help.
   One of the instances most life-changing for Kym was a conversation she had with a gentleman years ago. He posed two questions to her. The first one was, "Do you know what the word 'fetus' means?" Her thoughtful answer was, "No." He explained, "It is Latin for 'little one' or 'small one." The second question he asked was, "Have you ever seen an abortion procedure?" Again, a simple "No." His response was, "Go home and research it," which she did. She says she had no idea what an abortion involves and the magnitude of its impact, not only physically but emotionally and relationally. It immediately changed her stance from pro-choice to pro-life, and her life has never been the same.
   She volunteered for two years at a crisis pregnancy center in Utah and then became the Administrative Assistant. After she and Aaron moved to Georgia, the "draw" to help people was restless inside her and she had a deep desire to volunteer. To her delight she discovered the Crisis Pregnancy in Americus. She began volunteering there in August 2012; in July 2015, she became the Director. She explains that Central Baptist Church is the foundation for the center, but their board and volunteers include people from different churches and surrounding counties.
   Kym knows all too well what her clients are experiencing. At the age of 18, she had her own crisis pregnancy, which resulted in a miscarriage somewhere between two and three months. Although this was a major heartbreak in her life, she feels that God uses it to her clients' advantage as she can empathize with their similar situations.
   Kymberly relays a Bible passage that is very special to the center. Psalm 139:13-16, written by King David to God, recognizes the miracle performed by God in creating each human life: "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (NIV)
The center wants each client to know that God formed her in her mother's womb just as He is forming her baby. They want their clients to know that all are special to God and He is the one who creates us for His purpose and pleasure (Revelations 4:11). He loves them and wants a personal relationship with them (Romans 5:8 and 1 John 1:9). Each client receives a "blessing bag," whether she is pregnant or not, which includes a Bible, lotion, tissue, and some hard candy. They want each client to know that they love them and want to help them, whatever their situation turns out to be. Most of all, they want them to know that God loves them.
   She explains a bit more about the center saying that they are an education center, informing clients on all options, and they walk through the journey and aftercare with them. This is not just a place for a one-time visit where they give you a pamphlet or two and send you out the door with a "see ya later" and no hope for the future. They are very much involved with each client as they offer a pregnancy program, parenting program, toddler program, and life skills program, each being involved and comprehensive in its own area. These programs involve discussions and a DVD curriculum making learning easier for those who have reading difficulties, although this seemingly all-inclusive agency also offers assistance with learning, when desired, to read and obtain a GED.
   The pregnancy program curriculum explains the client's options and Hands of Hope offers to walk through her decision with her so she doesn't feel alone. It explains what's happening with her body and the importance of seeing a doctor, the baby's development at each step, and preparation for labor and delivery. If that's not enough, a volunteer or staff person will accompany the client at labor and delivery, if she requests. She receives a hospital layette and a "blessing bag," including such items as diapers, wipes, baby cloths, samples for mom and baby, and a magazine on parenting. Hands of Hope goes through the adoption with her, if that is her choice; they do not perform, refer, or recommend abortion.
   The Parenting program involves a curriculum that addresses first aid, illnesses, what to do if certain accidents occur, post-partum depression, and mommy and baby bonding. Some of the topics covered are Bible-based discipline, setting rules, and being consistent   from childhood to teen years. The mother is offered a wide variety of classes…all biblically-based; some of these are from Focus on the Family. This program overlaps with the toddler program.
   The toddler program curriculum lays out methods of dealing with tantrums, sleep problems, sibling rivalry, setting routines, and healthy eating habits.
   The Life skills program involves a curriculum teaching on life necessities such as sexual health God's way, risks of sex outside of marriage, Godly character, budget, finances, savings, credit cards, insurance, shopping, and menu planning.
   Kym says these are just a few of the ways the center seeks to assist the ladies. Quite a number of classes and programs exist that are helpful to them and their families in many ways.
   In order to further ease the ability for a client with other children to come for assistance, a playroom is provided. A volunteer will attend to the children and play with them, keeping them happy and occupied while their mother attends to business or receives counseling from other staff and volunteers.
   Kym explains, with joy, their Baby Boutique, "is a place where mothers can be supplied with baby clothes, diapers, wipes, and other necessities for taking care of a little one. This is a huge load off the shoulders of an already stressed mother who may be wondering where she's going to come up with the money for such items."
   Although the program is free to the clients, the items must be earned through their "Earn While You Learn" program. This involves earning points for performing such tasks as signing up, going to the doctor, STD screening, ultrasound, birthing classes, obtaining good grades, receiving a diploma or GED, and many other activities. The points they earn can then be sued to "purchase" items from the Baby Boutique. Kym stresses that this is a hand up, not a hand out, which creates a situation where the mother can feel that she has done something constructive to help herself and her family instead of relying on others.
   A comforting fact for the public to know is that there are volunteers from every age group that help out at the center; local medical people and agencies are supportive of Hands of Hope. This is particularly important to their next step: going medical. Their hope is that in the near future they will be able to have on staff a nurse, sonographer, and doctor/ultrasound personnel to read ultrasounds, but organizations are needed to aid with funding. Just a couple of the necessities for "going medical" will be ultrasound equipment and medical personnel to administer STD testing. This testing will be free as will referrals for medical treatments.
   Although the center does have male volunteers that are willing to speak with male clients, they are not required as often and are contracted on an as-needed basis. The center is beginning to see more and more boyfriends, husbands, and fathers of the clients, so more male volunteers are needed and appreciated.
   Hands of Hope receives no government monies, but is privately funded by such entities as churches, businesses, and private individuals. Kym encourages everyone with an interest to prayerfully consider supporting them with regular contributions or a one-time donation, all of which are tax deductible.
   There are always two staff--volunteer people at the center, but more are needed, Kym encourages the public to contact Hands of Hope for a volunteer packet or tour at their office number, 229-928-5027. She also wants anyone who may need their services to know he/she can call at the client number, 229-928-2802. Their hours are Monday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesdays from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p,m., and Friday from noon to 4 p.m. She says that in just this short amount of time per week they see on average about 14 clients. It is obvious that the need is there for the center to be open more than just this brief weekly schedule, but it will require more funding and volunteers, something for which Kym and the staff constantly hope, Hands of Hope staff and volunteers welcome the invitation to speak wherever they are invited, such as women's groups, youth groups, churches, and civic organizations.
   Volunteers and board members go through a vetting process, which includes an application, background check, and interview process. Some of the positions they fill are baby closet organizers, office cleaning, data entry, website and media, public relations, church liaisons, and community ambassadors.
   The center has recently moved from Highway 19 North to a location they rent that is closer into town. The physical address for Hands of Hope is 111 Habitat Street, Building C, Americus.  Their mailing address is P. O. Box 802, Americus, GA 31709. You can view their website at americuspregnancy.org and you can email them at handsofhopepre@yahoo.com.
   How comforting it is to know that Sumter County has this wonderful place of refuge where people in crisis pregnancies, who are experiencing a chaotic deluge of emotion from fear to panic to shame to hopelessness, can go for guidance, comfort, counsel, physical assistance, and peace. It is a place where platitudes are scarce and love and hope are prevalent; a place where the true love of God is offered freely.
   Psalm 86:15 – But you, O Lord, are a God Merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. John 8:7…He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.