In March 2020, Barbara Gosa and the Citrus Pregnancy Center volunteers were enthusiastically putting the finishing touches on their new location at 3185 E. Thomas St. in Inverness.
Then COVID-19 disrupted their plans for a grand opening and open house, also for their major fundraising events in both 2020 and 2021.
However, the nonprofit faith-based ministry to women with unwanted pregnancies and their families has kept its doors open and even launched new programs aimed at strengthening young families in the community.
Recently, the Chronicle took a tour of the new facility, which includes a large, comfortable multi-use area, three private consultation rooms, an ultrasound room, and a baby shop filled with everything a new baby needs to start life.
“The remodel and updates have created a warm and welcoming environment for the women – and men – who need our services,” said Gosa, executive director of the Citrus Pregnancy Center.
Citrus Pregnancy Center, with another location in Crystal River, was started in 1999 by a group of pastors as a crisis center for pregnancies.
The center offers free laboratory-quality pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, counseling and parenting classes.
Last year they added a fatherhood class, with a dozen men having completed the program so far.
“It’s a group of men; they meet after hours, have a meal and have a chat, ”Gosa said. “We have mentors, Christian men in the community to help them assume their role as providers of their families. “
A local church raised over $ 1,000 through a bottle fundraiser to kick off the new fatherhood program.
“Another thing that happened, we got a grant from the Citrus County Community Charitable Foundation, and we designed a program for clients who register and complete at least 10 parenting course lessons to qualify. to receive everything from a car seat, stroller – everything they need, and in some cases even a crib, ”said Gosa.
She said a couple signed up for classes, the mother was in a program, and the father was in the paternity program. They were expecting twins, so they each won a whole package for their babies.
Likewise, items in the Baby Shop can be “purchased” with points earned for completing certain things.
“Instead of giving things away, we want them to get the satisfaction of ‘I won this’ and ‘I can do it,’ she said.
She said many of their clients are struggling financially and the pandemic has taken its toll on young families.
“Ten points might not seem like a lot, but it will ‘buy’ five new baby outfits,” Gosa said.
Also on their list of upcoming programs: Nature Coast Ministries will be hosting courses on “Dental Hygiene in Pregnancy” and “Dental Hygiene for Newborns” for clients and people in the community who are interested.
And despite the pandemic and a new location that had no opening event with fanfare and having to do their fundraising events virtually and socially from a distance, they have had a successful year.
“We have seen an increase in the number of women who are at risk of choosing abortion,” Gosa wrote in her June 2021 newsletter. “Their stories are complicated and sometimes heartbreaking.
“For those who allow us to follow up with them, most choose life after getting all the information they need and seeing their baby in our office during their ultrasound appointment. We are fortunate to have nurses trained in this special life-saving ultrasound and we thank God for them on a daily basis, ”she wrote.