In the wake of the Roe V. Wade decision, Christians who saw the carnage of abortion on demand began to take steps to help women who were facing unplanned pregnancy. In 1990, Marsha Middleton gathered a group of concerned individuals in Lebanon, for the express purpose of establishing a center to reach out to these women. In August of 1990, the Precious Life Crisis Pregnancy Center began to officially hold board meetings. For the first few months the focus was on educating the community as to who we were and what we wanted to do. Like-minded people began to come together, offering their time, talents and resources for the cause. Churches began to get behind the mission and promote the truth that all life is important no matter how small. And then in November of 1990, we heard of our first potential client through a sister center in Springfield. They passed on the information that a young Lebanon girl who was pregnant was seeking help from a center in Dallas, Texas. This incident further fueled the passion to establish an actual brick and mortar facility to help our area women in need. In July of 1991, we opened the doors to our first facility located in the Chalet Village. As the ministry continued to move forward, we were able to attain an official non-profit 501(c)3 status under the new name of Laclede County Pregnancy Support Center. The Chalet Village was home to the ministry until October of 2000, when suspected vandalism caused some water damage to the facility (known in our center’s history as “the great flood”). Heritage Baptist stepped up to the plate to help out in our time of need and allowed us to use its parsonage as a center for operations until something else could be established. This church generously allowed us to use its facility for over a year, rent free. As different locations for a new site were considered, it seemed that one roadblock after another would arise and keep us from moving forward. In June 2002, we secured and moved into our current location at 525 S. Washington Ave.
The Lord began to move upon Marsha’s heart about an upcoming change in her life. In the fall of 2004, after 15 years of dedication to the ministry, Marsha announced that she was following the leading of the Lord and resigning as Executive Director as her family was moving to the Kansas City area. After a time of waiting upon the Lord and serving in a local center, Marsha accepted the invitation to be the Executive Director for the Alliance For Life Missouri, a ministry that is instrumental in organizing and planting pregnancy resource centers across the state in local communities.
Our center began a search for the new Executive Director. The board asked John McCastle if he would step in as interim Director until a permanent replacement could be found. During the search process many potential options were considered, John challenged Shaun Dickerson (the Abstinence Director at the time) to prayerfully consider the job. With the board’s unanimous approval, Shaun began duties as Executive Director in September of 2005, and continues to serve in that capacity.
Maternity Home History
The desire to have a maternity home has always been part of the DNA of the center’s leadership. In fact it was that very aspect that drew Abigail Chisom (Assistant Director) and Betty Frazier (Maternity Home Resident Advisor) to begin working with the center. Long-time volunteer/employee Melissa Schmidt reminded Shaun of this long standing desire to minister to women with no viable housing while facing an unplanned pregnancy. She also suggested “My Sister’s House” as a name. John McCastle suggested that if we streamlined our pregnancy center operations, we could utilize half of our facility to fulfill this dream and still expand our current offerings on the pregnancy center side. Funding from the Department of Economic Development allowed us to remodel and furnish the home, which is now able to house six clients at a time. The home not only provides them with warm shelter and food, but we work with clients to help them get ahead in life by equipping them with essential life skills–everything from getting a GED to operating a home on a shoestring budget. Many of our clients have loved finding camaraderie and a stable family environment so much that they continue to come back and visit often.
The center has always operated because of the generosity of those in the Lebanon area. Because of our strong & unwavering Christian stance we have not met eligibility requirements for various grant opportunities that many other organizations are able to access (i.e. Planned Parenthood). We search out opportunities to help the center & were awarded our first Neighborhood Assistance Program tax credit grant in July 2006. This project took 2 years to complete, and the funding allowed the center to remodel the offices and client rooms. In July 2008, the center was awarded another Neighborhood Assistance Program tax credit grant to allow for the remodel and furnishing of the maternity home; this project lasted until June 2011. The center has always been a competitive bidder on applicable available grants. At the height of the availability of abstinence grant money from a federal and state level, the center was awarded 4 different Abstinence Only Education grants to provide education to Laclede County. The center is also a recipient of the Alternatives to Abortion (A2A) grant from the state of Missouri, allowing us to help some of our qualified clients in ways that we have not previously been able to help. Currently the only grant available to be utilized by the center is the A2A grant, & the bulk of that funding goes directly to clientele. God continues to show His faithfulness to the cause of life through faithful givers, some of whom have supported us from the beginning & continue to do so to this day.