“It’s a two-faceted event,” said Maryland Guthas, executive director for the Women’s Resource Center. “The first is since we don’t receive any government funding or any outside funding ... the main purpose is to raise funds to support us for the next year. The second reason for the event is really just community awareness and education on who we are and what we do.
“We began as a resource for women and young girls with unplanned pregnancies to help them sort through and make good decisions for themselves and for their babies. And out of that we evolved into a service organization to provide baby items and needs for these babies for those that have unplanned pregnancies or not. We’re a resource for all young parents in our community,” she said, adding at the banquet titled “Night of Life” the nonprofit also will announce two new services that will begin in January — advocate counseling and the group study, “Making Peace with Your Past.”
A nonprofit since 2007, the Women’s Resource Center has assisted about 2,000 families this year through its offerings, some of which include parenting classes, pregnancy education, pre- and post-abortion education, maternity and infant needs, support groups, Adoption Discovery classes and free pregnancy testing. To foster positive parenting skills, the Bartow County Women’s Resource Center implemented its Baby Bucks program in 2011.
By earning baby bucks through a variety of methods — participating in classes at the center, attending WIC appointments, and well-baby and prenatal checkup visits, and providing a check stub or church bulletin from the previous Sunday — clients can shop in the Baby Store, located in the back of one of the nonprofit’s two buildings at 18 Douglas St. in Cartersville. The store offers a wide range of baby items, including clothing for two or three baby bucks, 10 diapers for five baby bucks and formula for five baby bucks.
“Basically, we want to encourage responsible parenting,” said Randi Winn McSwain, director of the Women’s Resource Center. “So that’s why we have this system in place. It was introduced August of 2011 and we’ve more than doubled our number of clients served each month. With the bucks, they’re able to shop in our Baby Store, which we’ve built on the back of the center and actually choose the items they need and they would like for their children. We have clothing, car seats, diapers, wipes, formula — a variety of items they can choose.
“So it gives them some ownership instead of coming in and saying, ‘I need something,’ and we meet a need. Now they come in and say, ‘I have a need,’ and we say, ‘Here’s how you can meet that need yourself.’ Instead of us really doing it for them, they’re doing it — earning the bucks. We’ve [also] seen a change in our clients in that they’re taking ownership of their parenting, which is really moving.”
While there will be no admission charge for the Women’s Resource Center’s fundraising banquet, attendees need to RSVP to Bartowfamilies@gmail.com or call 770-382-7224.