"It is a fundraiser, but I would say the purpose is really community awareness," said Randi Winn McSwain, director of the Women's Resource Center. "It's really to rally the community behind the cause. We're a pro-life center, so our mission is to educate the community on the value of the unborn and the value of relationships with God, self and others. So first of all, the cause is life. We need to make sure babies have the opportunity to live. Then our second goal is to ensure that they have quality of life.
"So that's the cause -- life and quality of life, for us to help parents learn all they need to do and be supported enough to where they can parent well. The idea [to relocate the event was] for it to be more of a community event where we have awareness and visibility so that passersby could see that there are people in the community who believe in this ministry and in the cause and maybe even passersby would stop by and see what it's all about and participate with us."
While registration will be ongoing through March 31, those interested in participating in Walk for Life will receive a reduced entrance fee -- $20 for each individual and $200 for a team -- if they sign up by Thursday at www.active.com. Afterward, the entry fees will increase to $25 for an individual registration and $250 for a team. While individuals are encouraged to walk at least an hour, groups can divide the responsibilities between their members.
Participants and those not able to walk also are invited to partake in the entertainment and a silent auction, with items ranging from a photography package to a week's usage of a Gulf Shores condo.
In addition to promoting a pro-life message, Walk for Life also will serve as a fundraiser for the nonprofit, with the event expecting to generate $15,000.
Located at 18 and 20 Douglas St. in Cartersville, the Women's Resource Center offers parenting classes, pregnancy education, pre- and post-abortion education, maternity and infant needs, life coaching, support groups, Adoption Discovery classes, free pregnancy testing and supplies through its Baby Bucks program.
"The funds are for the Women's Resource Center so that we can provide all the services we do because all of our services are at no charge," McSwain said. "[And] so we can continue to do free pregnancy testing, pregnancy counseling and operate our Baby Bucks program, which is really what we're becoming known for.
"[It] is basically an incentive program where soon-to-be parents or parents can come in if they have children up to the age of 3 years old and take parenting classes or prenatal classes or Bible studies -- we even have marital classes now -- and they can earn bucks, which is kind of like paper money through that program to spend in our baby store on diapers and formula, clothing or whatever their need might be," she said, adding other ways to earn baby bucks include presenting paycheck stubs and attending prenatal and well-baby checkup appointments. "... They can get a can of formula or 10 diapers for five baby bucks. Wipes are three baby bucks. Clothing is two to three baby bucks."
Formed in 1989, the Women's Resource Center currently is being led by Maryland Guthas. She succeeds Cindy Smith, who was the nonprofit's executive director for the past 10 years.
"I started with the center 22 years ago as a volunteer," said Guthas, who became the executive director of the Women's Resource Center in January. "So I've always had a heart for the center and it's come a long way and they're doing lots more than we started out doing. I've been a longtime friend with Cindy and we just believe that it was of God the way it came about because I had just gotten together with her for my birthday and she told me that she had put her resignation in at the center.
"And just all in the same conversation, she looked at me and she said, 'Oh my goodness, you would be perfect there.' And I had been looking for something and praying for something to have purpose. I'd been praying for something that had purpose and it was just beautiful the way it all came together. So that's how I ended up there."
For Guthas, returning to the Women's Resource Center has been a touching and humbling experience as far as being able to develop a vision for the nonprofit's future.
"[The center has] grown and expanded and [it is great to see] how supportive the community is," Guthas said. "It just blows my mind how supportive the community is in donations for the baby store and sending people, sending referrals and sending women our way. It is amazing to me. We're a faith-based organization.
"It's amazing to me what God has done there. It just really is and it makes me proud that I was a part of the start because it was just in formative stages when I first started there. We're the branch of the pro-life movement that -- we're where the rubber meets the road. I was working in Right to Life on the legislative end but this is just so much more where people are."
For more information about the Women's Resource Center, call 770-382-7224 or visit www.bartowbabies.org.