BALDWIN — When the first pregnancy center opened in Lake County in June, local director Jen Heiney didn’t realize how big community involvement would be a half-year later, furthering the reach of families the center is able to assist.

The center is currently a branch of West Shore Pregnancy and Family Support Center, based in Ludington, whose goal is to help those with pregnancy-related concerns and support families of children ages 0-3. The mission of the group is to “empower women and families to become strong and courageous parents for their children and prepare the next generation to do the same.”

“We have probably served 30 families so far,” Heiney said. “People are referred to us by places such as the Bread of Life Food Pantry in Baldwin for people who need items such as diapers for their children. We also give out blankets, hats and shoes if we have them. When families come, someone from our staff meets with them. Mom’s have said they have appreciated the support and adult interaction.”

Heiny said the center in Baldwin is really a family resource center.

“We provide pregnancy tests and other support for pregnant women, but we reach out to families in general. We have classes on budgeting and meal preparation. We are currently open Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., but we have gotten so many people coming, we are looking at being open on Fridays, too,” she said.

Community organizations have been pouring out support for the center. Faith Jones, liaison for Lake County Great Start Collaborative, provides books for each child who visits the center. The local Knights of Columbus donated brand new winter coats and area churches have been adopting families to shower with Christmas gifts. The Lake County Treasurer’s Office also adopted a family, and plan to drop off gifts on Christmas Eve.

“Bread of Life Food Pantry sends items our way. ACE Hardware offered building materials and financial donations as well as the Lake-Osceola State Bank. Evergreen Covenant Church donated a really nice printer,” she added.

Heiney encourages church groups to refer families to the center if they have need, and said the center is always in need of volunteers. For more information, contact (231) 852-3332 or email lakeco@wspfs.org.