A former business educator with years of experience in large-scale event planning, Leslie Kerns found a "good fit" when she was hired as executive director of the Pregnancy Help Center of Central Missouri.
Kerns started the day before the center's annual fundraising banquet in the fall.
But she has been fully involved with the firsttime Save a Baby 5K on Saturday at Memorial Park. Registration opens at 7 a.m., and the race begins at 8 a.m.
"We need to get the word out that we exist," Kerns said.
The spring run, expected to be the center's second largest annual fundraiser, is as much about raising awareness as funds, she said.
The center opened just more than a year ago on Southwest Boulevard. Volunteers have been trained and an ultrasound machine installed. A professional counselor is available, as are peer mentors. And donations to the Baby Boutique have set up a good resource for new mothers. Kerns sees promoting awareness as one of her top priorities now. "I think God just led me to this position," Kerns said. She appreciates the work given by board members and volunteers to provide the services to women in crisis pregnancy. The center's goal is to provide a confidential, non-judgmental atmosphere for women, either those unsure if they're pregnant or those who are pregnant but don't know what the future holds. "Clients are young and old; the one thing they have in common is they just need help," Kerns said. Although most volunteers are motivated because of their faith, it is not forced on clients.
"We want them to know God loves them and we care about them," Kerns said.
Support for the center is growing outside the direct services component, too. Parochial schools, churches and civic groups have hosted Baby Bottle Campaign collections or dedicated chapel gifts to the center.
"Students seem very enthusiastic about it," Kerns said.
And Kerns has been surprised and pleased with the mutual cooperation among local sanctity of life organizations.
Just as the Body of Christ described in scripture, the local organizations support each other, but each have their specific purpose, she said.
"There are so many things we need to do," Kerns said "For the first year, we've done pretty well."
Web link: www.pregnancyhelpcenterofcmo.org