As Ronda Patrick and others wrapped up a mission trip in Georgia, one of the leaders spoke to the group. Acknowledging that team members often experience an emotional and spiritually filled service trip, he challenged them to think beyond the past few days by asking a question:
“What are you going to do with this experience when you get home?”
It was a question that gnawed at Ronda in the days that followed. She prayed for clarity and she considered possible next steps
The mission team gave a report of their trip during a service at First Baptist Church in Sparta. During that service, Leann Gambill, who served on the Alleghany Pregnancy Care Center board, announced that the center was searching for a new director. This announcement piqued Ronda’s curiosity. She felt ill equipped for the role, but she continued to pray, and followed-up with an email to learn more about the pregnancy center and its role in the community.
She found that pregnancy centers were developed in the mid-1970s with a primary role of providing prenatal education and information. Coming on the heels of the abortion ruling in Roe v. Wade, the centers offered alternatives to women considering abortion. The center in Sparta was established in 2007.
While she had reservations, Ronda applied for the director’s role. As is often the case, hindsight paints a clearer picture of how a progression of life events prepare us for new challenges.
In the past, Ronda had worked for Dr. Oliver in Sparta, before returning to school to study early childhood education. She took those new skills and applied them with the Alleghany Partnership for Children where their goal is to strengthen children and families in Alleghany County. After some time, Ronda left the Partnership for Children to manage the office for her husband, Robert’s, heating and air conditioning business. This combination of education, work experience and life skills gave Ronda a prefect skill set for the pregnancy center. She was hired as director in 2015.
Under Ronda’s leadership, the pregnancy center offers a multitude of services and classes to the people of our community. These include: Free pregnancy tests; prenatal counseling; fatherhood classes; and relationship programs. They partner with the local health department to host a breastfeeding support group. They have implemented the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program – which helps the parents understand why their children exhibit various behaviors and gives the parents’ strategies to help them address those behaviors in a positive manner. The pregnancy center recently partnered with Alleghany Schools to conduct sexual risk avoidance training for 6th-9th grade students. Utilizing the Choosing the Best curriculum, they offer information that helps students make healthy decisions.
The center also offers a variety of items needed by new parents. Through their partnership with Lifelink Carolina, the Alleghany center provides new cribs and car seats to new parents. They offer diapers and wipes. As clients attend classes and participate in programs, they receive points which can be used to “purchase” items of clothing and other needed items. And the center provides gift baskets for their clients after the birth of their child.
Ronda emphasizes that they “meet women where they are” and are nonjudgmental. She said that a surprising number of pregnant women and young mothers in our community have no support network. The staff and volunteers from the center provide emotional support and unconditional love to their clients.
The center is funded through donations. They accept new and gently used clothing, and other supplies. They are in the early stages of their 2020 Baby Bottle Campaign in which people are encouraged to fill up a baby bottle with money. Their goal for this campaign is $8,000.
Ronda and Robert have two children. Madison is a junior at Gardner Webb University. Jared works with the Alleghany County Sheriff’s Office and is currently enrolled in Basic Law Enforcement Training at Surry Community College. They enjoy kayaking and off-road trail riding.
When Ronda sent that first email for information about the pregnancy center, an email signature caught her eye: “God doesn’t call the equipped; He equips the called.” A brief conversation with Ronda Patrick reveals a deep passion and dedication to serving the clients of the Alleghany Pregnancy Care Center. She is both called and equipped.
Learn more about the Alleghany Pregancy Care Center at https://www.alleghanypregnancycarecenter.org/