Dear Friends of Hope,
On Monday, March 21, 2005, I walked into the doors of Boone Crisis Pregnancy Center on Furman Road to succeed the retiring Ann Cook as Executive Director. The subsequent thirteen years have been quite remarkable given the organizational change that has occurred and being embraced by this mountain town community from the outset. My wife, Dell, prayed that the Lord would give us at least 5 years here. The additional 8 years make our departure to Florida a quite emotional endeavor as we grieve the loss of community. On August 8th, I will begin a new chapter of my nonprofit service as the Executive Director of the Children’s Volunteer Health Network (cvhnkids.org), a Christian medical/dental outreach to underserved or underinsured children in Walton and Okaloosa Counties on the Gulf Coast of Florida.
It truly has been an honor to serve in this ministry. When I look back to the beginning of my tenure and compare it to where Hope is currently, my heart is filled with intense gratitude. Early on after I arrived, the Board of Directors at the time decided to overhaul the ministry to better serve women with unplanned pregnancies who were in the decision phase. It was an ambitious plan that would guide the organization in subsequent years. The immediate results were a name change, new mission statement, rebranding campaign, and a new medical model of ministry focused on providing free ultrasounds. As a result, Hope Pregnancy Resource Center has been determined to help women with unplanned pregnancies to tell better stories ever since.
I am tremendously proud of our vision to change the narrative surrounding unplanned pregnancy and abortion in the High Country. Although I prefer not to use the word ‘abortion’ often because of the psychological noise that often accompanies it, abortion is a reality in our community. As a Christian organization, we have sought to lead with compassion and grace on this very divisive and volatile social issue. While other pregnancy centers across the nation have chosen to engage politically on this issue, Hope has refrained from political activism.
Instead, we have chosen to focus on welcoming women, especially ones considering abortion, into our safe, judgement-free environment on Howard Street. Our dedicated staff considers it an honor to come alongside these women as they navigate the stressors of an unplanned pregnancy. Instead of telling them what to do, we seek to better understand the difficult and challenging circumstances that are leading them to consider abortion as an option.
Most of our clients consider abortion as an option because they simply cannot see another way forward. For our clients to experience the freedom of true choice, they need resources like childcare, housing, emotional support, and a flexible job.
Since many college students come to Hope, the “Yes She Can!” scholarship for campus moms was started several years ago. For this demographic, the choice often comes down to having a baby or getting an education. The cultural narrative suggests the baby is a threat to the mother’s future. One way to counter that logic is to resource these young moms with scholarship funds to allow them to stay in school and become educated moms. To date, Hope has awarded over $80,000 in scholarship funds to pregnant or parenting moms on our college campuses in the High Country.
At Hope, we have found that leading with compassion and grace is a better way to affect change locally. As I considered this new opportunity in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, the future of Hope was paramount in my thinking. Our paradigm of service is special. In many respects, it is unique to the pregnancy center movement.
I am delighted to know that Hope’s philosophy of ministry will continue under the direction of my successor, Molly Petrey, who currently serves as Director of Operations. Molly began her career at Hope as our part-time Office Manager four years ago. The following year, she was elevated to a full-time member of the Hope team. Each year, Molly has shown great initiative in taking on more and more responsibility. As a result, I promoted her to Director of Operations last year.
When the Board of Directors asked my opinion on a potential successor, Molly was the only choice in my mind. Over our four years together, I have witnessed her heart for women and babies grow steadily. It’s been especially gratifying to see her not only adopt our women-centered philosophy of ministry, but also become a vocal advocate for the Hope way. Molly has demonstrated a commitment to grappling with the issues our clients are facing and responding winsomely and mercifully. As I depart, I do so with full confidence that the future of Hope is bright.
As word has trickled out about this transition, two questions seem to prevail. The first one usually offered is related to the reason for my departure. The primary reason is that the winters in Boone have become increasingly more challenging for me emotionally.
The second question usually is related to what I will miss most. There has been so much good over the years here at Hope. This is not an easy question to answer. Yet, my team at Hope will always have my heart. Because we are a smaller organization, our lives blend together. Because of the gravity of our clients’ stories and life-situations, our team has developed a tremendous bond. My staff displays a gracious love and respect for our clients each day at Hope. They have granted me the grace to make mistakes, the encouragement to overcome fits of discouragement, and the opportunity to challenge them to help women with unplanned pregnancies to thrive.
Finally, this ministry is flourishing because of you, our donors and friends. Since 2007, the percentage of abortions in Watauga County has dropped by 53%. More women than ever are responding to unplanned pregnancies with renewed hope and confidence that personal goals and fulfilling lives can be accomplished, not in spite of, but rather because of their babies.
This new brave reality directly correlates to your decision to do more than apply a bumper sticker on your car, fill out a ballot in November, or give a pro-life shout out on social media. Instead, you have answered the call to become burden bearers to a generation of women and babies through your financial partnerships and gifts. With your giving, you have communicated to the thousands of women receiving services at Hope that they are not alone.
To you, I extend my sincerest gratitude. Thank you for joining with us to cultivate a culture of empowerment for women with unplanned pregnancies in the High Country. Together, we can make a difference by refusing to simplistically respond to a polarizing social issue with trite answers and worn out refrains. Together, we have made a difference by committing to developing innovative solutions resulting in effective compassion.
It’s a new season at Hope. I’m excited to see how the ministry will continue to evolve and lead the way. My prayer is that you will further resolve to continue your financial support or even increase your investment in providing generational hope to women and babies in this panoramic community.
With an overflowing heart,
In March of 2014, I received an unexpected email from Brian Lowe asking if I would be interested in applying for the Office Manager position at The Hope Center. Unbeknownst to me, my mom (Karen) had given Brian my name as a potential candidate. She knew my heart for the ministry and desire to work there should the opportunity arise.
I had been involved with the center from the age of six when I would accompany my mom and perform volunteer tasks, such as helping prepare mass mailings, hosting baby showers for the clients, and facilitating baby item drives through my local church group. I continued to serve in a volunteer capacity well into my teen years and soon partnered with HOPE as a monthly donor.
After interviewing with Brian, I started as the part-time Office Manager in April of 2014 which transitioned to full time in 2015. I was promoted to Director of Operations in June of 2017. Throughout my 4.5 years at HOPE, I have grown not only professionally but personally as well. Meeting the women and men who come through our door has been one of the greatest joys of this work. I have been afforded the opportunity to meet some of the most courageous, inspirational women who have shown grace, strength, and tenacity as they have walked the path of an unplanned pregnancy.
I was able to see first hand how the mission of HOPE, to come alongside women with grace and compassion to inspire confidence in their ability to successfully navigate the stressors of an unplanned pregnancy, was truly changing lives. I am the better for meeting these women, working with this team, and will be forever grateful for the impact it has made on my life.
When Brian announced his new job in Florida, we met and discussed his intent to recommend me as Executive Director to the Board. In my time here, I have learned all aspects of the organization and am committed to carrying out our vision and continuing the growth of our mission. After an interview with the Board of Directors, I was offered the Executive Director position on July 12, 2018, effective August 1, 2018.
To say that I am grateful would be a huge understatement. Brian has been an exemplary leader in all aspects and will be missed! I am excited to continue the work that Brian has started; his legacy will live on as he has led the way in bringing hope and excellent care to women and men in the High Country.
The Lord has been faithful and will continue to be faithful as we move forward into this new phase of the ministry; it is with great excitement that I look toward the future of Hope. The team here is one of the best, most compassionate teams I have ever had the privilege of serving alongside. I am thrilled to continue the work of this ministry as we serve these young families in our community.
Executive Director | The Hope Center