Lighthouse Pregnancy Center – Manistee – For the past decade, the Lighthouse Pregnancy Center has served people from Manistee County who are facing an unplanned or unexpected pregnancy.
The organization recently moved to a new location at 215 Maple Street, where executive director Mira Lautner said they will be able to better serve the community. Lighthouse Pregnancy Center offers programs that help children from birth to 4 years of age. They also offer abstinence classes and other counseling to high school girls to prevent unplanned pregnancies.
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Tuletorni Maternity Center is involved in donations and fundraising throughout the year. Lautner spoke with the News Advocate today about the programs they offer and how people can get their services.
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Lautner: We’ve been in Manistee for 10 years since last May. It came after some women who volunteered at the West Shore Pregnancy Center in Ludington began seeing girls and women leave Manistee. They saw a need for one in Manistee.
Lautner: As CEO, I’m the only employee. Our board of directors includes Connie Watson, Chairman; Elaine Judd and Heather Parker are vice-chairs; Sarah Ax is our secretary. And Sarah Mattson is our treasurer. We also have one vacant seat in the Majlis.
We have a large number of volunteers. We have guides and others who organize or clean up. There are programs. It is primarily a volunteer-run organization.
Lautner: We cater to girls, women and men who are unplanned pregnant or anyone with small children. Our services help those who have children from birth to about 4 years of age. Part of the services we offer are diapers, wipes and all kinds of baby supplies. We also have a welcome home basket where our customers who have babies get a basket full of all sorts of baby goodies. Before I leave the hospital, I usually go in and give them a welcome home basket.
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Another program is Earn While You Learn, where girls or boys can earn a pack and game or car seat by completing a few lessons. There are chapters on parenting, budgeting, work, childbirth, and more.
We also have a full turnaround program, an abstinence training program in schools, and a Bible study for women who have had a miscarriage.
News Lawyer: How do people come to you, do you refer them to an agency or do they just go to your office?
Lautner: Both. Mostly by word of mouth, people find out who we are and what we do. We work with all agencies. I’m part of the Human Services Collaborative, so we work with all the agencies and that gives us the best opportunity to serve all of our clients and help them better.
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Lautner: Strictly by donation. It’s amazing to me how this community has been able to sustain this organization for 10 years because we don’t get government or government funding. All this for donations only. We work with a very small budget.
That is why we are very good money agents. That’s why we’re so grateful to the people of Manistee, because they’re the ones who fund it.
Lautner: One of the biggest advantages is the website itself. We have had customers walk to our Parkdale location with their children. Take the bus and a mile out of town doesn’t seem like much to some people, but if you don’t have transportation, it might as well be 10 miles. Also, some people can’t even drive a bus.
Lautner: I think it just goes up from here. I see an increase in visibility for people who don’t know about us. I think we will increase our volunteer work and our clients. They know where we are now because it’s clearer.
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I also see the programs we can offer growing and also in collaboration with other agencies in the area.
Lautner: Thank you to the volunteers who volunteer their time every week to help us get this new building. And also to the community that has supported us all these years. Manesty – Ten years is a long time to commit to a cause, but when it’s something you believe in, time flies.
Mira Lautner, executive director of the Lighthouse Pregnancy Center, was present when the center’s doors first opened in 2004. However, she and others strongly believed in the need to help those facing unplanned or unexpected pregnancies.
The group is now ready to take the first step in a new venture as they hope to move to a bigger venue. The center has been on Parkdale Avenue since its inception, but officials have announced plans to purchase the former Maple Street Clinic building on Maple Street across from the Manistee County Courthouse.
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“We started in a building right next to the current location for the first three years, then we moved to this building (located at 234 Parkdale Ave) and we’ve been here ever since,” Lautner said.
“We’re just getting out and we need more space,” he said. “It gives us the opportunity to get more programs for our customers.”
The board talked about expanding a few years ago, but put it off. Lautner said he stepped down as CEO for four years, but expansion talks continued when he returned.
“It was something I was all for, and after looking at the building on Maple Street, I knew it was perfect for what we needed,” he said. “It’s downtown and makes it easy to get to us.”
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Board President Connie Watson agreed it was time for the center to expand. She noted that some people tend to forget that the Lighthouse Pregnancy Center is a 501(c)3 department, thus limiting some of the funding available for such projects.
“We’ve been serving our current location well,” he said. “(The new location) also provides room for future growth and the convenience for customers to connect with us for the services they need most.”
The council needs $150,000 to buy the building; The group has until June 15 to raise $70,000 for a down payment and necessary repairs before the doors open.
“Then we have to pay the balance of $80,000 over the next five years,” Watson said.
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5-8pm on Thursdays at its current location. Staff are available to answer any fundraising questions, such as where residents can donate to purchase a square foot of building or space, make a one-time donation or contribute in memory of someone.
People also have the opportunity to help with building renovations such as cleaning, painting, tidying, flooring and the like.
Lautner said it took a while for the center to become known in the area, but they’ve been very busy since then.
He said: “The first year we saw 52 customers and we were waiting for people to arrive.” “Now we see over 300 a year and we’re only open two days a week,” he said. “The age group of people has also changed. I saw a change in 2010 when the economy got worse because there were more families instead of single mothers.”
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They help people who use baby supplies like diapers, wipes, baby food and formula. They also offer an orientation program and an early learning program. Other things are parenting, prenatal and child discipline programs.
“We also do Bible studies and counseling programs for people who have had a miscarriage, so there are many ways we can help,” she said.
Lautner said people interested in learning more about the center should attend an open house where center staff and board members can meet the public and talk about the building’s design.
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