New Beginnings Pregnancy Center in Benton, Arkansas has had a few new beginnings over the past few years.
Originally established in 2003 as a non-profit ministry for pregnant teens, it has grown to serve women of all ages who can benefit from the ministry’s resources.
Over the past few years, New Beginnings has expanded to include ultrasound exams and pregnancy tests in addition to offering material resources such as diapers, wipes, formula and gently used clothing for babies up to at 24 months.
The center also offers confidential counseling, mentoring, parenting classes and Bible studies.
“I just think babies are the most precious human beings in the whole world,” said Patti Snowden, deputy director of New Beginnings.
As a mother and grandmother, “I feel like a grandmother to the babies and a mother to the young women,” she added.
Snowden, whose professional experience includes 30 years as a public school speech-language pathologist, coordinates the ministry’s resource center in a small, renovated house on a side street behind the offices of the Central Baptist Association.
Janet Dixon, Executive Director, a nurse trained in OB ultrasound, oversees the pregnancy testing center located in a dedicated wing of the association office.
“In the central Arkansas area, there’s a lot of poverty,” Snowden explained. “We have a certain [type of] young woman who tends to come to our center for help. Generally, they haven’t had a good experience in their own family.
“Most of these young women don’t have a lot of financial support,” she added. “Some are employed, some aren’t, but those who are employed are usually those earning minimum wage, so there just isn’t a whole lot of extra money for everyone.”
Noting that “we believe that whoever comes to our door, God brought them here for a reason,” Snowden said, “Many times they have had no experience of knowing who Jesus is, so we have the privilege of tell them about Jesus. It is our honor and our joy to be able to do so.
Women’s Missionary Union groups, including women on missions from nearby Benton First Baptist Church, are partnering with the ministry by donating diapers, wipes and other needed items.
A few local quilting guilds and volunteers from a senior center make homemade quilts and afghans for the pregnancy center to distribute.
“Make a fuss of Jesus”
As she works with volunteers and encourages women who turn to New Beginnings for help, “my motivation is to make a big deal out of Jesus,” Snowden explained. “I want these young women to know his love.”
Claiming that Christ “captured my heart” at the age of 19, Snowden reflected: “During my life he drew me so close to him.
Wanting New Beginnings clients to experience that same spiritual connection, she said, “I want them to know exactly who he is and the dimensions of his love, which are higher than the heavens.”
Diana Lewis, a longtime member of the Central Association’s Missions Development Council, recounted God’s clear leadership in founding the ministry and expanding it in 2015 to include the testing center and ultrasound.
There were “three really big things we needed to get done to be able to do the medical part,” she said, the must-have list included a facility, a medical director and an ultrasound scanner.
Before long, the association offered part of its facilities to house the testing center and Lewis discovered that his new doctor had previous experience as medical director of a pregnancy center.
He easily agreed to play this role for New Beginnings.
The final hurdle was acquiring a $26,000 ultrasound machine.
A local organization offered to contribute half the money if New Beginnings could raise the other half. Lewis, a retired North American missionary and quilt enthusiast, hosted a silent auction and quilt auction.
“The next day our manager came to my house and we counted the money,” Lewis said. “And we had almost on the dollar exactly what we needed for our half of the ultrasound machine. … God put in front of us the things we needed most to be able to make it happen.