Reproductive health in Alabama became the center of a national conversation last week as state lawmakers signed the strictest abortion bill in the country.
Here in Leeds, women have a free and confidential way to learn about their options and a place where they can receive support from the community.
Ann’s New Life is a non-denominational, Christian center that has been serving the Leeds community since January 2018. The center seeks to empower women who are facing unplanned pregnancies through mentorship, parenting education, sharing of faith and by assisting them with material resources.
Executive Director Susan Meredith said the center hopes to give future parents confidence and hope for their future.
The Leeds location, a satellite of Pell City Medical Center, offers confidential help and services including pregnancy tests, post-abortion counseling, peer counseling, material aid, prenatal classes, parenting classes, bible studies and resource information. Thanks to the generosity of donors, these services are free.
Meredith said that many of her clients are referred from counselors within the community; others are referred by the Alabama Department of Human Resources. Leeds area churches have also sent clients her way. The center also frequently has walk-ins. No one is turned away, Meredith said.
“This was a calling,” Meredith said. “I had been in education for most of my life when I was given this opportunity, and I knew this was where I was supposed to be.”
The center is staffed by eight volunteers who each give three hours a week. Meredith said the center averages between 12 and 15 clients each week.
At Ann’s Baby Boutique, clients who attend their educational programs can earn “baby bucks” that can be spent on clothing and other baby items. Women are also offered a free opportunity to fill a bag of clothing for their child when needed.
Items in the boutique come from donations. Meredith said the greatest need for the boutique is diapers size 3-4, but all donations for babies—including maternity clothing—are welcome.
Ann’s isn’t the first time that the home at 7404 Roosevelt Drive has served the community. The home was once a halfway house for men graduating from The Foundry. When that project ran its course, the owners considered selling it, but after much prayer they were moved to repurpose the space. They began seeking donors, and Meredith said, “it happened fast.” After a full renovation, the new center was opened within a year.
The center’s largest fundraiser of the year is on Tuesday, Sept. 17 at 6:30 p.m. at St. Theresa of the Child Catholic Church. Everyone is invited, but RSVPs are requested.
If you are moved to give, it’s easy. Visit myegiving.com/annsnewlife to donate online or text the dollar amount that you would like to give to 8312-BABIES.