A local agency that sometimes flies under the radar is celebrating 25 years of supporting parents and families.
Beginnings Family Services Pregnancy Care Centre was focused on helping young mothers, especially during unplanned pregnancies, when it first began. But lately the target demographic has widened, said director Joyce Schultz.
“We’ve seen the change in the social strata of clients coming in. We’ve grown,” she said. “Now we see more families, even older moms coming in and needing support or parenting support or material assistance.”
Fathers and newcomers to Canada are also taking advantage of Beginnings’ services in greater numbers.
“It’s (not) just for young moms or teen moms,” Schultz said.
The agency runs solely on private sponsorships and community donations.
Many of the programs for parents and caregivers are well attended, but Schultz knows there are still community members in the dark about Beginnings Family Services Pregnancy Care Centre.
“There’s still people out there that we can reach,” she said.
The newest program at Beginnings is the monthly Baby Brunch at College Avenue United Church.
Local businesses can sponsor a brunch for $250, which enables Beginnings to serve a nutritious meal. The sessions also feature a guest speaker to offer information or parenting tips. A public health nurse is also on hand to answer questions.
“The main goal is really for it to be an outreach. They get to know more about Beginnings and our services,” Schultz said. “We have some parents who wouldn’t really be comfortable coming through our doors directly."
The organization has seen new clients seek out their services after attending Baby Brunch. And many of the brunching regulars will spread the word about the program, whether in person or on social media, Schutlz said.
The next Baby Brunch is Sept. 14 from 9 to 11 a.m. at the church.
It's not the only program that benefits from word of mouth advertising.
The moms group that Beginnings offers became so popular that it had to be moved out of the Wellington Street location and into the Ontario Early Years centre.
Another important offering is the “care closet” Beginnings keeps stocked with baby and childcare items – everything from diapers to maternity clothing to kids shampoo.
“That’s the big draw,” said Schultz.
Those emergency supplies are there for anyone who needs them, she added.
“The lovely thing is that our clients in need of stuff, once in awhile they’ll come back and donate some of the other items. They understand how it’s give and take,” Schultz said.
The care closet an incredibly valuable resource for parents or caregivers in the community, and sometimes it encourages moms and dads to return to Beginnings for other programs.
What’s clear is that parents are very appreciative of the support, said client resource worker Michelle Kinnaird.
“A consistent thing we hear often is that it’s supportive, and it’s a friendly environment that they walk into,” she said.
“They feel safe.”
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25th Anniversary Banquet
Saturday, Sept. 24, 5:30 p.m.
Maranatha Christian Reformed Church