When Grace Cottage had to shut down, Shanna Hall was concerned about another organization coming into existence to help fill that void. On Jan. 3, she got one started — Giving Grace Foundation, located at 320 Dewey Avenue in downtown Poteau.
"We opened Jan. 3," Hall said during Thursday afternoon's weekly Poteau Kiwanis Club meeting at Western Sizzlin. "We are a Christ-centered women's ministry that provides hope, help and healing for each woman that we serve — her unborn child, her children and her family. We free and confidential services in a supportive environment. All of our people who work there right now are all volunteers. We have been slowly getting the word out. We're working on projects now to help raise money for purchasing needs such as diapers, wipes, formula, baby food and personal hygiene. That is one area that, in this particular county (LeFlore County), there is no help — unless you have been abused or have an addiction to alcohol or drugs. There is no help for any family at all in any organization. That is a service we have offered. Being we just started in January, things started going well in April. We have already served three families in the county. It's a very high number because, honestly, that has been since April 17. The need is there, and we are trying to fulfill it. The main thing is that we get them to the Lord."
When Oklahoma became an anti-abortion state, Hall and Giving Grace Foundation saw its window of opportunity.
"We were led to continue this need in this community when the abortion law changed," she said. "Arkansas and Oklahoma have voted that we are a non-abortion state — which is great, because we love babies and we want to see them. However, the data is somewhat skewed. I've been at the Oklahoma Pregnancy Care Network, which is who we kind of associate and work with. Pregnancy since November 2021 has increased 43 percent in Oklahoma. The previous information is that 20 percent of all pregnancies end in an elected abortion. So, if it's up 43 percent. We have to provide for these families that struggling and are in need. We want to help them (babies) grow into positive citizens in our community, and they need our help. So, that is what our ministry is here to do. We are actually enjoying it. If you know anybody who needs help, please call. We will do everything we can to help them — as long as it is within our means. We're trying to take care of everybody we can in this community."
One of the latest was a homeless family about to welcome a newborn.
"We've been helping a homeless expecting couple," Hall said. "I'm thankful that we were able to raise about $900 total for that couple. We put them in a hotel for two weeks and gave them a food card so they could go eat. They were able to finally get them into a rental just last week. We had to help them (last) weekend to get some stuff, but these two adults were products of the foster system that were just kind of dropped — so they really didn't have any kind of role models. That's where we come in. We got them in there. (We) got a bed for them and got some towels and washcloths that were donated from generous people. (We) got groceries that we bought for them to get them started — just so we could get them on their feet. Their baby is due anytime."
So far, everyone helped by Giving Grace Foundation has welcomed its help.
"We can tell if things are being abused or not," Hall said. "There is not one single family that has abused the system at all. They are usually very grateful just because they were needing some help."
Giving Grace Foundation offers many programs for its clients.
"We also do classes, parenting classes, meal-prepping classes, make-your-own baby food classes," Hall said. "We do some fun arts and crafts classes — we just did one for a Mother's Day project. With our ministry, it's all free. It doesn't cost anyone anything. There's really no qualifications other than the fact that you're in need."
Hall said Giving Grace Foundation is looking to do even more.
"We are also looking to make bigger purchases," she said. "We need a few more things — a TV, a DVD player, a couch, a couple of new tables, some tablets for them to do a couple of things with their classes. Everything we've done has been what we, the co-founders, have put into the business to keep it going. Of course, we take donations. We've gotten some donations from the community."
Later this month, Giving Grace Foundation will receive a grant, but it's unknown at the current time just how much it will be worth.
"We had our facility tour Tuesday," Hall said. We got the approval for that (grant), thank goodness. They had designated money for pregnancy centers and help in the United States. Oklahoma has chosen to theirs (grants) by you provide the service, show the proof and they'll reimburse you. With the Oklahoma Pregnancy Care Network, they're kind of the facilitators. You prove you provide that service and send it in to them, they reimburse you. Our training begins May 31, so, hopefully, we'll get some more."
For additional information or to ask how to become a volunteer, call Giving Grace Foundation at (918) 839-0001.