Vision, Determination, and $130K

From L to R: Theresa Fisher, Vicki Rinkenberger, Philip Drown, and Michelle Hanson

From L to R: Theresa Fisher, Vicki Rinkenberger, Philip Drown, and Michelle Hanson

When Theresa Fisher, Director of the Options for Women (OWM) pregnancy center in Morris Minnesota approached me in 2012 to write a MN Department of Health - Positive Alternatives grant, she possessed strong vision and determined passion, but very few resources.

With only a slim roster of volunteers, no staff other than herself (she was less than half-time), and an Executive Board that had dwindled to three people, her passion to expand the impact, outreach, and services of the center seemed a radical mission. Nevertheless, we dug into the grant requirements, developed the project (complete with budgets and measureable outcomes), and authored a proposal that secured OWM $130,000 in operating and program expansion funds.

Today, just two-and-a-half years later, OWM sustains Fisher full-time as Executive Director, employs two additional office staff and one part time Spanish interpreter/counselor, has moved to a larger Main Street location, has expanded all services, and has implemented a brand new Spanish outreach program. Fisher and her team have achieved all of the original goals she set out to accomplish, plus a few more.

"The MDH grant was a catalyst," Fisher said. "Everything I wanted to do at the time we submitted the grant is in full swing now."

But it takes more than just money to make an organization successful. It takes the right people with the right motivation, and the right timing. When you add to that dynamic an infusion of finances, along with a willingness by those involved to take a few calculated risks, the results are inspiring. Prior to the MDH grant, OWM experienced roughly 50 visits per year. Today, they are documenting an average of 260 to 270 visits per month

OWM offers an array of support services for teen girls and women who are pregnant and in difficult life circumstances. Whether they are facing parenthood alone, struggling financially, caught in a destructive relationship, or vulnerable in other ways, the OWM pregnancy center provides emotional support, life-coaching, parenting and life-skills education, as well as loads of practical help in a non-judgmental environment. 

"What we're offering the people who come into the center is not a hand-out, it's a hand-up," Fisher said. 

To learn more about OWM, check them out at optionsforwomen.info