The free, confidential pregnancy clinic, FirstLook Clinic, has hopes to relocate and rebuild.
And, thanks to a generous land donation by The Avenue Church in Waxahachie, FirstLook Clinic could begin construction on YMCA Boulevard by 2020.
Jason Bankhead, the family pastor for The Avenue Church, disclosed the logistics of the land have not been set in stone, but the property will be leased to the clinic for an exceptionally bargain price.
The Avenue Church initiated the discussion of the land use three years ago. The program “Be the Church” wanted to mobilize the church to help nonprofits in the area and throughout Ellis County.
“As I was meeting with different leaders from different organizations, I met with Donna [Young, CEO] with FirstLook and began to say, ‘Hey, what are some of your greatest needs?’ Just to see if there’s something our church could help with at all,” Bankhead relayed. “And, what she said, as well as a couple of other folks, was, ‘land — a bigger building. We need space.'”
Several nonprofits in the area serve the community and Ellis County. But the vision behind the clinic stood out, and the church knew it could help.
Mark Miller, the missions pastor for The Avenue, emphasized the goal is not to recreate what FirstLook does but to partner what its ministry is behind.
“We aren’t looking at starting a new ministry so instead of using part of our property to build a clinic for moms and pregnancy, why don’t we bring one that’s already doing a great job if possible and be neighbors with them,” Miller elaborated.
The church officially donated two acres of land in 2017. Bankhead estimated the value of the property between $450,000 and $500,000, saving the clinic a significant amount of money.
The FirstLook Board of Directors recently launched an $875,000 capital campaign to raise more awareness and money for the necessary rejuvenated clinic.
Once the first half is raised, FirstLook will be able to borrow the remaining half and begin to build. It is estimated that approximately $400,000 will be secured with in-kind donations, building materials and services, which will ultimately reduce the balance to be borrowed.
The nonprofit also recently hired Julie Sides as the campaign manager. She relayed there are several ways to give, whether that be monetary, with services or volunteered time. Right now, naming rights are available for individuals and companies to purchase. In this case, people and businesses can have their name on a room or a piece of equipment.
“[The new building] is going to be real nice and open, so it will be more welcoming when they come in. Like right now, I can’t even give you a tour because there’s so much privacy," Sides said.
This warming environment is essential for the individuals who are dealing with heavy emotions that come with pregnancy, Sides explained. She also noted the environment needs to mirror the vibe given by the staff and shared how the current structure is old, and space is confined.
The facility is currently located at 1204 W. Ferris Ave. in a small retail strip center — since 2003. In the future, the facility will be a stand-alone building with four exam rooms, four consultation rooms with two rooms equipped with ultrasound capabilities, a fully equipped kitchen, a classroom, a chapel that adequate for prayer and weddings, a baby boutique, offices and ample parking space.
The current building includes a waiting area, an office, two client-counseling rooms, a break room, two clinic rooms and Noah’s Boutique. Women and men who accumulate parenting points to purchase apparel, diapers and more utilize the store. Off the boutique are more rooms where parenting classes and weekly bible study are held.
“We try to accommodate walk-ins and right now it’s about a two-week wait, and they are in a desperate need to come in and have something done. You aren’t wanting to wait two weeks, you’re wanting to get something done, whatever it is,” Sides explained.
A WORD FROM THE FIRSTLOOK CEO
Donna Young, the CEO of FirstLook, elaborated on the vision of the new facility.
"The clinic that FirstLook has planned will be a beautiful space, fully functional for our unique ministry, the only one of its kind in Ellis County," Young explained. "In our new clinic, we can immediately double the number of available appointments with ample space for clients and staff for long-term growth."
Young also offered more insight into the advancements that could exist.
"The medical offices and consultation rooms will be in one hall eliminating the privacy issues that currently exist. A demonstration kitchen has been designed to teach expectant parents and families healthy eating/cooking," Young shared.
"We will have sufficient office space for productive, efficient work. Currently, all the nurses share a closet-sized office and the four administrative staff share the only other office," Young continued. "The new facility will have large meeting areas for prenatal and parenting classes, and for staff/volunteer events and for donor gatherings."
THE MISSION OF FIRSTLOOK
The mission of the clinic is to lead Ellis County to embrace life by promoting the best sexual practices and providing family support in the name of Jesus Christ, according to the FirstLook website.
Services include medical needs for pregnancy testing, ultrasounds and sexually transmitted diseases and infections. Also, personal care services provide pregnancy options with counseling, abortion healing and Doula services. The clinic helps educate the community and is a resource as a support for domestic violence, terminal prenatal diagnosis and abortion pill reversal.
These services are available to men and women — all for free.
“We want to be able to have more accommodations and a nicer facility for women and men to come,” Sides emphasized.
On a monthly basis, the clinic sees or works with about 10 men. With the new facility, the clinic hopes to bring in more programs specifically for men and be able to recruit more male volunteers.
In the coming months, the clinic will be certified to reverse abortions that are administered through pill form. “A lot of the time, women will change their mind between the first pill and second pill. But you have to catch it in such a quick window in time, and we are going to be able to help them reverse it after the first pill and be able to save the baby,” Sides explained.
The clinic has served folks in and out of Ellis County since 1999. In 2017 alone, 123 clients at-risk for abortion chose life after an ultrasound. Also in that year, 210 ultrasounds were performed and 109 sexually transmitted infections were diagnosed.
The primary age group that utilizes the services are 20- to 24-year olds, while the second most common is 25 to 29 and the third highest is 15 to 19-year-olds.
For more information on FirstLook Clinic and its services, log onto www.firstlookclinic.com, and for information on the capital campaign, visit www.txlifeinvestors.org.
If interested in making a donation or working as a spiritual mentor, contact Julie Sides at Julie@firstlookclinic.com. The clinic can be reached by calling 972-938-7900.
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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450