By Woodrow Polston
Supporters of Anne’s Anchor packed the Knights of Columbus Hall in St. Clement last Thursday evening for the organization’s annual fundraising banquet.
VIP Guests were present from Bowling Green, Vandalia, Frankford, Louisiana and Eolia. Board member Ryan Daffron, who welcomed everyone to the event, said that the organization is important to his family.
“My wife, Heather, and I have a heart for babies and young mothers, so this organization is very near and dear to our hearts,” said Daffron. We support this effort to help young mothers any way that we can and we are glad to be here this evening,” he added.
Anne’s Anchor is located in Bowling Green and serves young mothers as an inclusive, not-for-profit organization funded by local individuals, businesses and churches. The staff is professionally trained and compassionate individuals, who are committed to serving women and their families.
During the banquet, several awards were presented before dinner, including Volunteer of the Year award, which went to Lindsey Kraft. Shelley Nacke was presented with the individual Donor of the Year award. Rev. Louis Dorn was present to ask the blessing on the food and evening. After dinner, Executive Director Georgia Hearn said that this was the second annual VIP banquet for Anne’s Anchor.
“This is our second year. The last year has flown by and one thing that I can say is that we have been truly blessed and all of the glory goes to God,” said Hearn. “According to the most recent census and population estimates, 16.6% of individuals living in Pike County are living in poverty. That means that 16.6% of our neighbors do not have enough money to meet their family’s most basic needs, including food, clothing and shelter. The largest demographic of that number are women ranging in age 18 – 24. Comparatively, Lincoln County’s poverty rate is currently only 9 percent. Pike County is considered a maternity dessert, which means that there is a lack of maternity care services. For individuals who cannot afford traveling, or do not have a license or vehicle, how are they supposed to get out of the county for maternity needs?” she asked.
Hearn shared stories of young mothers that Anne’s Anchor has been able to help assist in receiving their driver’s license and educational diplomas. Hearn said that poverty is a generational cycle that the organization is working to break—one mom at a time.
“We give hand-ups not hand-outs at Anne’s Anchor. We give moms the opportunity and they put in the hard work to make their dreams a reality. By working with a certified life coach, each mom establishes weekly goals. Each of their journeys looks different. The program is not easy, as breaking generational cycles is difficult. The core competencies of the program include education and job training, employment, budgeting and personal finance, parenting skills and childcare, life skills, spiritual well-being, household skills, time-management and self-discipline, health and wellness, transportation and housing,” said Hearn.
Destiny Charleston and Kenzy McLaughlin gave personal testimonies about their life-changing experiences at Anne’s Anchor. Charleston said that Hearn had helped her to successfully pass her driving test and acquire her driver’s license. McLaughlin recalled a traumatic childhood that resulted in homelessness before being accepted at Anne’s Anchor.
“My mother died in front of me when I was a child,” said McLaughlin. “She had a massive heart attack as a result of drug use when I was 13-years-old. Soon after, I was introduced to drugs and alcohol by another family member. My dad became abusive and was sent to prison. I struggled with drug issues throughout my high school years. I went to live in foster care in Troy, leaving my home in Louisiana, and eventually, at age 18, moved to Bowling Green. I was doing good until my father died at the age of 45. I dropped out of school only months before graduating and fell victim to drugs and homelessness, even after having my first child. I ended up with drug charges and two years of probation. I had a hard time finding a place to live and was unable to find a job. That was when I found Anne’s Anchor,” she added.
McLaughlin started taking classes twice a week for her MACC hiset prep as soon as she moved in. She recently completed her certification with a cumulative score of 65, when she needed only 45 points to pass. She said that she has accepted Jesus Christ and that she is making plans to be baptized.
According to their website, Anne’s Anchor utilizes “My Ridiculously Amazing Life Goals” and “My Ridiculously Amazing Life Plan” curriculum, which is based on a balanced approach to life that focuses on seven areas identified as necessary for eventual self-sufficiency and success. Single mothers, in collaboration with Anne’s Anchor Staff, will establish goals and develop an individualized plan of action to encourage and facilitate growth and preparedness. For more information about Anne’s Anchor, call 573-777-0473 or visit them on their Facebook page.