Republican gubernatorial candidate and U.S. Rep. Diane Black on Thursday toured the Hope Center, a crisis pregnancy resource center in Greeneville.
Black toured the center before continuing her swing through Greeneville, stopping at the monthly gathering of the Greene County Republican Women’s Club. Earlier in the week, she visited Baileyton, where political pundit Eric Bolling hosted a live broadcast of his Conservative Review Television online show, “America,” from the Davy Crockett TA Travel Center off Interstate 81.
The Hope Center is renovating and expanding a two-story building next to their present location on Tusculum Boulevard.
When completed, the building at 312 Tusculum Blvd. will house Honeysuckle Studios, five apartments that will serve as temporary maternity/independent living homes for pregnant women “with nowhere to go,” said Administrator Sharon Hodgens during Thursday’s roughly 45-minute tour.
The Hope Center, in operation since 1998, offers parenting classes to both women and men, called “Earn While You Learn.” They also provide expectant parenting classes and distribute to expectant mothers free diapers, wipes, clothes, shampoo, soap and other hygiene products.
“This is a dream come true. We’re so excited about it,” Hodgens said of Honeysuckle Studios. Completion of the apartments is projected for late summer 2019, she said.
Mallory White, director of programs and development at the Hope Center, told Black that the Hope Center offers “pro-life,” one-on-one counseling to mothers and fathers, including alternatives to abortion.
The two women showed the candidate what White called their “life-affirming” ultrasound equipment, which is used for mothers considering abortions.
“We have strict guidelines on when we can do an ultrasound,” White explained. State guidelines mandate that a candidate for an ultrasound must not have consulted a physician prior to the ultrasound, she said.
White said the Hope Center has an average of three or four women a year who come in for ultrasounds.
“We’ve had a 100 percent success rate since 2011,” when the Hope Center moved into its current donated offices, according to White.
Hodgens said the new apartments will each be 300 square feet in size, with a combination bedroom/living room/kitchen efficiency, and private bath.
The administrator said that construction costs for the new apartments, which will include a new roof, are estimated to be $800,000-$900,000. She said of that amount, between $58,000 and $158,000 remains to be raised through donations.
Demolition on the interior of the new facility’s existing structure began three weeks ago with a repair permit to fix a leaking roof.
Much of the new construction is being donated, including the new roof, the services of a retired engineer and an electrician donating all his labor for free, with only electrical parts remaining for the Hope Center to pay for, according to Hodgens.
“The staff is so appreciative of the volunteers who’ve stepped forward. We’ve never wavered that we’d get the money. God has been so faithful,” said Hodgens to Black.
The current building was donated to the Hope Center in 2010. The former doctors’ offices include 5,000 square feet, and a purposefully “homey” atmosphere, Hodgens told Black.
Black said she was impressed. “The color, lighting, paintings on the wall, scripture ... it’s so comforting.”