“We’re privately funded,” Bartow Family Resources Executive Director Maryland Guthas said. “We don’t get any funding [from] outside — no government funding. So this is one of our two campaigns [we conduct] in order to continue offering services.”
Sign-ups are underway for the benefit, which will be held at Sam Smith Park, 1155 Douthit Ferry Road in Cartersville. Following the registration at 10 a.m., runners and walkers will depart for the 5k Fun Run and 1 Mile Walk at 10:30 a.m. To participate, individuals are urged to raise at least $150 with pledge forms or online, where fundraising pages post daily to social media.
“We definitely fill a gap, for example if a young family — a young mom or a young dad — are in need of assistance for physical items for their child — for their baby, for their infant — WIC doesn’t offer paper products or neither does Food Stamps,” Guthas said. “So you can’t get diapers. You can’t get wipes. They’re just a lot of things that are not provided through other services in our community. ... So we just kind of fill a gap. Really that’s the way we attract young moms and dads, but [our] purpose is to educate them on becoming better parents, on how to be better parents.
“I feel like, and I’ve said it many times, that I would love to be able to document the number of cases of child abuse that have been thwarted by our center’s presence in the relationships that are formed with our mentors and our clients. I’ve seen it many times where especially a young mom will come in at her wits’ end and just be able to vent all her frustrations about parenting and her life situation. ... Sometimes they don’t have anyone else to turn to. There’s not a positive role model in their life. There’s not maybe a positive parent influence in their life for this parent. And that’s why I think that it’s a really important thing that we provide someone to talk to.”
Meeting more than 2,000 needs each year, some of the nonprofit’s free offerings include parenting education, pregnancy options counseling, post-abortion recovery groups, maternity clothing, support groups, emergency baby supplies, adoption education and pregnancy tests.
To foster positive parenting skills, Bartow Family Resources implemented its Baby Bucks program in 2011. In the offering’s first three months of operation, the nonprofit’s number of clients more than doubled weekly, from an average of 20 to 50. Located in the back of one of the nonprofit’s two buildings at 18 Douglas St. in Cartersville, the baby store offers a wide range of baby items — including diapers, wipes, cribs and strollers — in return for baby bucks, which can be attained in a variety of ways, such as by presenting an employee check stub, church bulletin or verification for prenatal or well-baby checkup appointments.
Over the past two weeks, Bartow Family Resources’ 18 Douglas St. building has received a facelift in an effort to rework its classroom space. With the majority of the volunteers hailing from Cartersville First Baptist, the construction project also received support from Tabernacle Baptist, Oakland Heights Baptist and Lake Pointe Church.
“It’s meant everything. We’re so pushed for space,” Guthas said. “Last year in our Pregnancy and Mentoring Center, we served over 2,200 client needs. That was 2,200 client appointments in that little about 1,500-square-foot building. I looked at that building probably every way I could to think of a way that we could maximize its use and efficiency and I determined we could make three classrooms out of two. It sounded really simple. We’ll just take out the center wall and add two walls [but] it really wasn’t all that simple.
“But it’s so funny just the way God provided. [Relationship Center Director] Cindy Smith had had some contact with the group called Fishers of Men out of First Baptist [Church in] Cartersville who had done a project for someone else she knew. She mentioned it to the head of that group and first thing I know they contacted me and they made it happen.”
Formed two years ago as a part of Cartersville First Baptist’s Mens Ministry, the church’s Service Team has completed about 20 service projects, with the Bartow Family Resources’ construction work being its largest effort to date.
“We’re Christian men and we’re to have a service heart just as Christ did,” said Greg Garner, coordinator for Cartersville First Baptist’s Service Team. “We all have different talents and abilities and we know that we can all serve in different ways. But for me and the guys that volunteer with me, we all have a skill. We have a background in doing this kind of work and we’re utilizing the talents we’ve been blessed with to go out and help those people that are in need.
“... When it comes to the [Bartow Family Resources], I’ll be honest, I didn’t know really much about them. I didn’t know what they did ... but then we met with Maryland the first time and she started giving me the numbers and she started telling me the stories. I saw the building and I saw the little shop in the back of the building. I just thought a lot of times with the stuff we do we’re helping people right on the front line, right where the need is at. But this was an opportunity really that was even cooler because this is an organization that really does a lot to help people in need in the community.”
For more information about or to register for 5k for Life, visit www.bartowfamilies.com or call 770-382-7224 or 678-894-6545.