By Karen Ingle
On June 23, dirt flew from dozens of shovels at an empty lot in the Phillips community of South Minneapolis during a groundbreaking ceremony for the coming First Care Pregnancy Center. Over 50 people gathered near the corner of Chicago and Franklin Avenues, including local pastors, staff and donors, community leaders, and students from Hope Academy, a Christian school for inner city children.
By year’s end, that lot should host a 12,600-square-foot building with the pregnancy center on one side and the nonprofit Community Care Clinics of Minnesota on the other.
First Care Pregnancy Center will offer free pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, pregnancy counseling with licensed social workers, community referrals, parenting education, and material support.
Within the same building, the Community Care Clinic will offer complete prenatal services along with full-family medical appointments. Individuals and families will enjoy easy access to the full range of services they need from both organizations.
According to Tammy Kocher, executive director of New Life Family Services, the parent organization of First Care Pregnancy Center, “The original building on the property was a neighborhood medical clinic. Now we get to bring that back to the community more than 80 years later.”
Other community nonprofits with complementary missions have been invited to utilize the building’s remaining office spaces. Both Kocher and Dr. Robert Larbi-Odam of Community Care Clinics anticipate bringing a whole spectrum of life-affirming ministry to this neighborhood, so recently the scene of unrest surrounding the death of George Floyd in 2020.
“Sacred ground” renewed for service
During the groundbreaking celebration, Kocher met a neighbor who prayed for years for permission to build the church that previously occupied the lot. The woman told Kocher, “This is the Lord’s ground. We’ve been praying that this is sacred ground that Satan is not going to take back.”
Her prayers were already being answered as early as 2012, when New Life Family Services began searching for an underserved urban area to provide with life-affirming pregnancy and parenting support. In 2013, the group zeroed in on the Phillips neighborhood and ultimately found the church buildings for sale.
Kocher’s original plan burgeoned from renting a building, to purchasing and remodeling the church’s existing structures, to erecting entirely new construction. Donors stepped up to fund the expanding project, even as the price tag more than tripled from an estimated $1 million to today’s $3.5 million.
“While we have raised nearly all of the cost of the new building, to ensure sustainability of our new Phillips center, our board has required we raise two years of operating expenses up front, approximately $567,000,” she said.
“At New Life Family Services, the cost of supporting one woman throughout her entire pregnancy with every service we provide is $550 ($46/month),” Kocher said. “Raising the remaining operating expenses will ensure we are able to fully support the first 1,031 clients who walk through our doors in this new location.”
Incidentally, Kocher pointed out, in Minneapolis that same life-supporting $550 wouldn’t even cover the cost of a life-ending abortion.
Serving over 1,000 women in two years at the new First Care Pregnancy Center is not unthinkable, Kocher said. In fact, they are likely to see twice that number.
So, for a watching neighborhood in need of help, hope, and healing, the heavy equipment rolling in to erect this hub of community service can’t work fast enough.
Editor’s note. This appeared at Pregnancy Help News and is reposted with permission.