|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Copyright 2017 - Polk County Publishing Company
June talent show planning underway
BY GREG PEAK
LIVINGSTON – In an effort to provide needed services to young women and couples expecting babies, the GRACE Pregnancy Outreach is planning a fundraising talent show in June. The Livingston's Got Talent show, which is still being planned, is designed to provide needed funds to keep the free, Christianbased outreach program in operation. Located at 913 N. Washington in Livingston, the program offers educational classes to mothers and fathers, material assistance, referrals to other local agencies to help parents obtain needed services as well as "baby and mommy" items. The program also plans to offer pregnancy tests and limited ultrasound tests in the near future. The office is currently open by appointment only, which can be made by calling 936-327-8440 or 800- 712-HELP. According to GRACE's Executive Director Amanda Martinez, because all services to their clients are free, they depend on donations of money as well as time from volunteers. She and the other board members are all volunteers who donate their time and energy to help the young parents in the community. The monetary donations go to pay for education and training materials, rent, utilities, office supplies and computer software. "Right now we are seeing 21 mothers a month but we expect to eventually get up to around 50," Martinez said, noting the program is currently less than one year old, having begun in June 2016. While other services are important, the key element of the program are the classes they offer to help mothers and fathers prepare for the arrival of their child. Among the course offerings are prenatal care, childbirth, nutrition, fetal development, breastfeeding, fertility awareness, abstinence and more. Classes will be added based on the needs of their clients. Martinez said to encourage the young parents to take part in the education program, for each class they attend they are given a credit that can be used to exchange for additional supplies, such as diapers. "There are no age or income limits for participation in this program," Martinez added. "These are generally young people who really need someone to tell them they can do it. We help them set up a goal plan and then let them go to school to learn how to achieve those goals." As part of helping achieve those goals, GRACE (Giving, Respecting, Accepting, Caring, Educating) helps guide the young parents to other groups that can provide assistance, such as Medicaid and the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program. To raise funds to keep the doors open, GRACE will host the Livingston's Got Talent show in June. While the plans for the event are still being finalized, Dr. Mike Shukan, who is helping set up the show, said they will be offering a $1,000 prize for first place, $500 for second and $250 for third. "We will be having two auditions in order to get the number of performances down to about 15 to 20," he said, noting there will be no charge to enter the contest. Money generated from the show will come primarily through ticket sales. In addition to generating income, Shukan and Martinez both said they hope to talent show will help introduce the GRACE program and its services to the public. "This is one way that we hope to spread the word about what GRACE Pregnancy Outreach has to offer the people of the community," Martinez said. Additional details such as audition times will be published in the Polk County Enterprise as they become available. Those wishing to volunteer or make a donation to the outreach program may do so by calling 936-327-8440 or 800-712-HELP or by mailing a donation to Grace Pregnancy Outreach, 913 N. Washington, Livingston, Texas 77351.