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Nonprofit aims to help women with unplanned pregnancies

BEMIDJI – A new nonprofit is hosting an open house this week.

The Northwoods Pregnancy Care Center, which aims to support females dealing with unplanned pregnancies, invites the public to visit and tour its facility from 2-6 p.m. Thursday. The center is located in Suite 1 of 677 Anne St. NW, off to the right of Mi Rancho restaurant.

Northwoods Pregnancy Care Center is affiliated with Care Net, a national network of care centers, and will provide counseling and support for females facing unexpected pregnancies.

Offering free pregnancy testing and confidential peer counseling, clients will receive information on all of their available options.

“We want them to talk through their options,” said Vicky Mansson, the director of Northwoods Pregnancy. “We want them to know that we are here for them.”

No referrals are made to abortion clinics, but if a client opts for that course, she is welcomed back for post-abortion counseling and support.

The care center also hosts a mommy store, offering baby gear, supplies and clothing. A female who chooses to keep her baby can earn “mommy money” for spending at the store through an “Earn While You Learn” program. Clients watch videos that teach them about taking care of themselves and their baby.

“The Earn While You Learn program has been shown to be a very important part of pregnancy care centers because it teaches each client how to be a good mom,” Mansson said.

Mansson, a registered nurse who previously served as the parish nurse at the Evangelical Covenant Church of Bemidji, is the only paid staff member, but there are about 15 volunteers who have been thoroughly trained through Care Net to serve as peer counselors.

Medical care is not provided by the care center, but staff will work with clients to set up needed appointments, if they are not seeking care already.

The care center, funded completely through contributions from the public, has benefitted from a range of community support. Much of the labor was provided by volunteers. Furniture and baby supplies were donated.

Additionally, another care center has donated an ultrasound machine, which will be used at some point in the future, once staff undergoes the necessary training.

“That was one of our dreams,” Mansson said.

Planning for the care center began about two years ago. Community members formed a steering committee and began researching whether there was a need for such a nonprofit in Bemidji.

Mansson, a member of the team that helped found the center, was hired in September.

“It’s a good fit,” she said. “I really feel strongly that this is where I’m supposed to be right now.”

Northwoods Pregnancy Care Center

Opened: Dec. 17

Hours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays

Phone: (218) 444-3035

Address: 677 Anne St. NW, Suite 1