Helping Hands Offers Critical Resources
Expecting mothers, parents and other members of the community can access important resources through Mariposa’s Helping Hands Pregnancy and Parenting Center.
MariposaToday.com spoke with Lindee Blew, the center’s director, who described the organization as, “a pregnancy/parenting center that is also a ministry, involved in celebrating life. What I mean by ‘life’ is not just inside the womb, but outside the womb as well. We equip parents and pregnant families with tools and information to help them navigate the best they can in their lives.”
The center offers services such as free and confidential pregnancy testing, pregnancy verification for MediCal and WIC applications and prenatal education. Other forms of support are also provided, including pregnancy options, information, and advocacy. There are also childbirth classes, parenting education, personal improvement classes, addiction and abuse instruction, relationship strengthening classes, men’s mentoring, miscarriage or pregnancy loss support, and court ordered parenting classes.
In elaborating on the men’s mentoring services, Blew explained that they consist of, “classes in how to be a better dad. We are promoters of fathers being in the family. We need them to be there raising their children. However we can promote that and be beside them in their journey, we think that is important. We believe that is the only way to heal and to help us grow from a broken, father-less society.”
Helping Hands strives to educate clients on sexual information, statistics, and facts on sexually transmitted diseases. “Were not here to try and dictate your choices,” said Blew. “We’re here to show you that your choices have consequences and to take responsibility of them in a loving way.”
An important part of the center is their Baby Boutique, an “Earn while you Learn” program where mothers and other people with children can acquire new or gently used items for their child. The boutique helps parents afford everyday necessities for themselves and their babies, like diapers, baby formula, clothes, items for mothers and much more. All gently used items are thoroughly cleaned to meet the center’s specifications before being offered.
Items are purchased with “Baby Bucks,” which are earned by attending classes. Five Baby Bucks are given for attending a class, while three additional bucks can be earned by completing the optional homework assignments that are issued every week. Blew said, “Some clients have never had to buy diapers or baby clothes outside of this place, which saves them thousands of dollars.” While it is not uncommon for baby formula to be offered, the center does promote breast-feeding.
Though Helping Hands is not a medical clinic, however, it may have people on staff who possess such experience.
Helping Hands operates under Care Net, a Christian network of crisis pregnancy centers operating primarily in the United States. This umbrella foundation conducts the training for personnel, in addition to providing information, data and other pertinent resources. Care Net also improves, encourages, and supports the spiritual side of the ministry.
Except for Blew, the director, all staff are volunteers who come in to donate several hours or an entire day every week to give classes and connect personally with clients. All staff at the center are fingerprinted and undergo a background check.
Helping Hands is funded by private donors, while most items given to them are donated by citizens and churches. All items offered at the Baby Boutique are donated by private donors. The center accepts no grants and no state or federal money of any kind. “Some people,” Blew explained, “just come in and give money.”
Since its only source of income is donations from fellow citizens, the center is also known for holding fundraisers in the local community, an example of which is their baby bottle donation program. This fundraising program is partnered with local churches, in which baby bottles are dispensed to them for the purpose of being filled with spare change.
This fundraiser is common among pregnancy centers and is typically held every January. The fundraiser is entitled the Sanctity of Life. According to Blew, this fundraiser is important because “when you’re a non-profit, every penny counts to save lives.”
Helping Hands is not solely directed toward mothers. “You don’t have to be pregnant or a parent if you need these services,” stated Blew. “Aunts and uncles need the same kind of equipping. We are here to equip families with whatever they need to be the best family they can be. Not what we think they should be, but what they think they should be. Even grandparents. They can need refreshing too, so we also work with them. If we don’t teach our fellow community what their value is, they cannot understand the value of their children. And so, self-worth is a huge proponent of this ministry. My motto is you are worth all the gold in heaven. And we want everyone to know that. Every walk of life can come to these classes. We are faith and bible-based, but we also offer secular classes.”
The ministry is an important part of what goes on at the Helping Hands, which includes bible studies and other forms of spiritual support. “We feel like we prepare people here to go to church,” noted Blew. “We introduce them to Jesus in a different way, as a friend, not a dictator. We build relationships here.”
The center does not refer for abortions. “We don’t believe in abortion,” said Blew. “We believe abortion is murder.” Michelle Earling, a local volunteer client advocate on staff at the center, added that, “We cater to everyone, but we stand on what the truth says.”
Helping Hands is constantly volunteers, and further hopes to one day acquire a residence in Mariposa where it might offer culinary classes, first-aid classes, home-care skill classes, a dad’s club and even day-care services.
The Mariposa Center is located at 5072 Bullion Street, Suite B. Helping Hands is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday. They can be called at (209) 742-5500 or texted at (559) 422-3813. You can access their website here. If you would like to donate, you can mail donations to PO Box 513 in Mariposa.