ELIZABETHTON — After assuming a bigger role in order to help the victims of last year’s tornado in Johnson County, the Abortion Alternative and Women’s Center has moved to new and bigger quarters.
The center is now located in the Watauga Industrial Park off Tenn. Highway 91 at Suite 7, 145 Judge Don Lewis Blvd. That location is just across the street from the National Guard armory and adjacent to the Workforce Development Complex.
The new location offers more room for the center’s counseling mission and its Mommy Mart, where new mothers who earn vouchers, called Mommy Money, for completing education, finding a job, or other life-changing accomplishments, can redeem them for items such as baby clothing and other needs in caring for an infant or toddler.
Other programs the center offers will also continue at its new location, including the summer nutrition program to provide meals for children when school is out and the “Guard Your Heart” abstinence program. The new building will also offer space for expanded counseling program in four areas: a drug-free drug counseling program, marriage counseling, domestic violence counseling and education and job training counseling.
One service the Abortion Alternatives and Women’s Center will not have at its new location is its Day Care program. That program has been united with the Day Care program at Hunter First Baptist Church and is now located at the church.
Center Director Angie Odom said one of the attractions of the new location is the 4,000 square feet of unfinished space in the adjoining suites. While the suites are finished on the outside, the inside is a shell with a dirt floor.
When it is finished, the space will provide enough space for the new Tender Loving Care community outreach programs for the center, including emergency assistance for an entire community, such as the victims of last year’s tornado.
Odom said part of the area will be used for a larger and more diverse version of the current Mommy Mart. It will be similar to a commercial store, but only open to the public a few hours a week. The rest of the time it will take only TLC vouchers.
Odom plans to partner with area churches who regularly donate funds to needy families and individuals. By centralizing the help, Odom hopes the help can be made more efficient. She said the program would work by having the participating churches provide needy families with TLC vouchers instead of cash. The family would then redeem them at the TLC store. The program would help churches know the funds they provided actually went to purchase things the family needed instead of being spent on alcohol, cigarettes or the lottery.
The additional space could also store large items such as new and used furniture to be provided to families in need after a fire or a disaster.
“If we had this set up when the tornado hit it would have really helped,” Odom said. She hopes it can provide that help when a future disaster strikes.
To help get the program going, Odom said she is trying to round up volunteer labor to finish the building, pour the concrete floor, put in lots of shelving and donate and install the appliances needed, such as refrigerators and stoves.
Odom said one advantage of the new location is its close proximity to the National Guard, which would likely be called out in a disaster.
Another advantage to the location is that it is next door to the Workforce Development Complex and its many educational programs. The center directs many of its clients to the complex to obtain their GED or obtain training and help in finding a job.
The Abortion Alternative and Women’s Center will have an open house on Thursday to introduce the public to its new location and facilities and to celebrate the center’s 12th birthday. The open house will be from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m.
For more information on the center, call 543-4673.