Pregnancy resource center celebrates purchase of North St. building

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BENNINGTON — True North Pregnancy Resource Center is hoping to open its own ultrasound room within the coming year. The center will be renovating its offices to make space for the ultrasound room, and this is possible only after True North bought the building it had been renting for three years.

The center celebrated the November purchase with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday noon. The event, held on its front steps at 128 North Street, drew around 30 people, including some of the nonprofit's board members, clients and donors.

True North describes itself as a faith-based organization that helps people facing unplanned pregnancies make informed decisions about their options — abortion, adoption or parenting.

Its services are all free: pregnancy testing, mentoring, educational classes, material assistance and referrals to other community services. The organization does not provide or refer for abortions, according to its website.

The building purchase, Executive Director Heidi VanVoorhis said at the ribbon cutting, would allow the center to put more money into its services since True North will make money from the building.

The first floor of its two-story building houses True North's offices; the second floor has two apartments, which the center is renting out for a combined $1,450 a month —nearly double its monthly mortgage.

"It allows us to add new programs," VanVoorhis said in an interview, citing as an example a life skills program slated to start in April, which would cover topics such as hygiene, finances and anger management.

The center, established in 1985, offers 140 different classes on pregnancy, life post-delivery, infant care, milestones in the child's first year. Its most popular classes apparently include "Emotions of Pregnancy" and "Infant Bonding."

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Class participants earn credits called "mommy/daddy bucks," which they can use at an in-house store to get baby essentials like diapers, wipes, clothes, formula and feeding bottles.

"They get so much empowerment making that happen," said JoAnne Brown, the center services director. "They get that affirmation that they can do this."

The center's services continue after the baby's birth, until the child is a year old.

True North serves 150-200 people a year, including pregnant women's partners and parents, VanVoorhis said. Their pregnant clients range in age from 16 to around 40 years old.

Besides Bennington County residents, clients also come from Rutland County and nearby New York towns such as Berlin, Grafton, Hoosick Falls, Petersburg and Schaghticoke. It is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday.

The center's office renovation, which will be undertaken by church volunteers this summer, will also install a back-door entrance for clients who want their visits to remain concealed.

And once the ultrasound room is built, True North's ultrasound machine can finally be dusted off from a corner room where it is currently stored.

"We could show moms that are facing an unplanned pregnancy that there really is life inside, and what it looks like," VanVoorhis said.

Contact Tiffany Tan at ttan@benningtonbanner.com, @tiffgtan on Twitter or 802-447-7567 ext. 122.


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