The Stevens Center recently recognized Sparta’s Clean Hearts Christian Ministries and Pregnancy Crisis Center for the support they provided to families during the COVID-19 pandemic
“This Blue Ribbon Award is in recognition of the support they provided to the families in White County during the pandemic,” Deborah Goodwin, the family resource specialist for the Stevens Center, said. “They helped anytime we showed up and said we needed diapers for a family. They allowed us to come here and serve families when we couldn’t do outreach. We could come here and stand in the doorways or however we had to do it. Ms. Susan made it work. There were days when she couldn’t allow people in here to her center, so she was standing in the doorway giving stuff to the women who needed items for their young children. She was letting them know that we were still there for them during the pandemic.”
The Stephens Center is an early education parenting center for first-time parents, and Goodwin said the organization aims to support families as they navigate a new life as parents.
“We support the family through education as well as providing resources for them,” she said.
Those resources can come in the form of transportation to doctors’ appointments or early childhood screenings as well as through partnering with organizations like Clean Hearts to ensure the needs of both mothers and children are being met.
Susan Colquitt, Clean Hearts administrator, said the recognition from The Stephens Center was unnecessary as the work that she and other volunteers do is done as an outpouring of the love they feel for children and young families.
“I love to network with other organizations to get the best I can for these parents,” she explained, stating that she often works with not just The Stephens Center but also with Seeds of Hope, the Crossville Pregnancy Center, and many area churches to ensure she is finding the resources that are needed to help the families who come to her. “We also have a program where a representative comes here twice a month to help the women find employment.”
Clean Hearts Christian Ministry aims to help mothers from the moment they find out they are pregnant until their young child is no longer in diapers.
“We talk to the girls and go over their options, we aim to support them in any way we can,” Colquitt said.
She said that while they try to discourage abortions, they do not turn away someone who makes that choice, rather they provide counseling in the form of Bible studies and weekend retreats to help with the emotional healing.
“Mostly, though, we take care of the baby,” she said. “As long as the child is in diapers, our programs seek to meet the needs of the mother and the child.”
Colquitt said Clean Hearts Christian Ministries offers prenatal classes as well as developmental classes to help mothers know what to expect and how to help their babies through their first year. They also offer a Department of Children’s Services approved parenting class called “Breaking the Cycle” to help mothers who may not have had the guidance or childhood they hope to offer their own children.
In addition, Colquitt works to help expectant mothers find healthcare and has even found ways to help them visit mobile ultrasound units so they can see a picture of their unborn child. She also partners with area churches to provide expectant mothers with what she calls a layette and describes as a mini-baby shower to provide some nice gifts to welcome their new baby home.
“Once the baby is born, we help with the needs that come with having a new child,” she added. “We provide diapers and wipes and formula and bottles for the babies. We help with clothing in sizes ranging from newborn to 2T. We will even make sure that mothers have car seats and playpens and bathtubs for their new babies.”
All of the needs, both physical and emotional, as well as all of the classes and programs that are provided by Clean Hearts come at absolutely no cost to the families that they serve.
“We work with area churches and local businesses to make sure the needs are met,” Colquitt said. “We get a lot of support from Serenity as well.”
She went on to say the ministry is in need of car seats at this time, but the need for diapers is an ongoing need.
“Our biggest need is always diapers,” Colquitt said. “Last year, despite being closed from March 17 until the first of June, I spent over $12,000 on diapers.”
Colquitt said she would welcome all donations, whether they came from a business, organization, or individual, and that all donations are tax deductible as her ministry has a 501c3 status.
“People can give monetary donations or provide us with needed items,” she explained, saying that a receipt will be given either way.
She has a list of needs available by either calling her at (931) 837-5050 or visiting the Clean Hearts Christian Ministries center at 17 E. Maple St., on Liberty Square, in Sparta.
“It is a true community involvement, and we hope that these mothers and their babies feel that they are supported and loved,” Colquitt said.