Anne's Anchor Maternity House

This house on W. Locust is being donated to non-profit to create a safe haven and stepping stone to help foster success for women. Photo by Stan Schwartz

Anne’s Anchor to take ownership of house on W. Locust

BOWLING GREEN—Members of the Second Baptist Church voted in January to donate the parsonage—the house that the church’s pastor lives in—to Anne’s Anchor, a newly created non-profit in Bowling Green that’s dedicated to founding a faith-based, structured home environment to pregnant and newly parenting women.

Pastor Mark West said they are currently working on the paperwork to transfer ownership from the church to the non-profit organization.

Paulette Bruch said she, Michele Nacke and Carie Capps were the founding board members of the group, Options for Women, which they created in 2015, and in 2016, they started a pregnancy center in a little building just off of the traffic circle by Taco Bell. Nacke is the wife of Bowling Green Police Chief Don Nacke. Capps lives in Louisiana.

Bruch noted that Anne’s Anchor, which they created in 2018, ties into center but it is a separate organization. “Two of us are coaches not counselors,” she said.

“We take a girl where ever she is (in life) and move forward to plan her next route,” Bruch said. “Those of us who work there realized there was a need for housing. A lot of these young women are in a situation where either they or their baby are in danger.” With that, they saw the need for a housing component to provide a safe and reliable living environment. That’s where the Anne’s Anchor comes in: to find housing. She said it was truly a blessing that the parsonage became available and is being donated to their organization. They had been looking at homes since 2018.

“We never thought that a home would come to us in this manner,” she added. They already had some donors ready to make down payments so Anne’s Anchor could purchase a home. The three women had gone to groups such as Rotary and Lion’s Club, as well as churches to get the word out about what they hoped to accomplish with a maternity home. “We are eternally grateful that the church thought of us,” she said. “It’s an awesome gift.”

Even though they held some fundraisers, the pandemic deeply affected their ability to raise money.

“We’re pretty excited about this,” West said. The house was originally donated to the Second Baptist Church in the early 1900s, he explained. “And several pastors have lived in it over the years. West and his wife, Nicole, lived in the house until last October, when they bought their own home on 7th Street.

“The church realized that it costs money to keep it vacant,” West said. Instead of leaving it vacant, they decided to put the hose to good use. “We can use it to help impact the Kingdom of God by passing it along and blessing the ministry,” he explained.

“It just seemed like a blessing from God that this all fell into place for everybody,” West said. He was impressed with how well the church has taken care of the home over the years. Just a couple of years ago, he noted, they put in new carpeting.

Bruch said the home would be used for women 18 and older who are either homeless or in a situation where there’s no one available to help them. The house would be the net that catches them.

In addition to the criteria she noted above, Bruch said the women have to commit to a 1-year program. This isn’t a place where they would lie around all day watching TV, she added. These women would have to take an active roll in improving themselves and their lives.

“This is all new to us,” Bruch said. They knew about some of the other homes in the state that were operating to help young women. They did site visits at three other homes to learn how those organizations were set up and how they’re run now.

They are looking for referral from other agencies, she noted. About a dozen maternity homes are in operation in Missouri. “None of us has ever operated a maternity home before, so we have to learn from the experiences of other people.”

She explained that they want to teach these women how to be financially responsible and ways to find employment and education.

In order to do this, Bruch said they picked a curriculum created by the executive director of a maternity home in Rolla. She added that it’s called, “My Ridiculously Amazing Life.” It is geared toward taking someone who is not successful and helping them learn how to be a success. Residents of the home would have to be in an education program or working in order to remain there.

West is new to Bowling Green. He and his family moved here at the end of June last year. “I’m still a newbie in the area,” he said. He truly enjoys being here.

“Other than the massive construction on Locust Street,” he said, “it has been great.” The city has been working to replace the aging infrastructure under the roadway—upgrading the sewer lines and replacing the old fire hydrants. Once that is done, the city will repave Locust. “That’s progress. I’m glad they’re updating it,” he added.

“We’ve been blessed by the town,” West said. “Everyone has been really welcoming and inviting.”

Once the deed to the property has changed hands, West said, the church is hoping to continue a relationship with Anne’s Anchor to help them going forward.

“We believe in their cause and what they’re doing,” he said about Anne’s Anchor. He was impressed with the passion of the three women who started the non-profit group and how much they want to reach these young women.

“As a church, we are very pro-life,” he said. “And we explained that the pro-life doesn’t end when a child is born. It goes on for a lifetime. And that could mean breaking the cycle of poverty and some of the things that these young women have been born into.”

He sees the house as a place where they could provide a second chance at life for these women and their children.

“It is great to hear some of the success stories from other similar houses in Missouri,” West said. “In communities, such as this, it’s important to get the word out about these homes because sometimes we miss these hidden problems.”

He wants to make sure as many people know about the home as possible because they are going to need donations to keep the house going.

“We want to get our community together to support them,” West said.

In addition to Bruch, Nacke and Paris, there is an advisory board to help them.

“We realized we could not do this all on our own,” Bruch said. “It’s a huge undertaking and a little scary at times.” But their vision of helping these young women continues to drive them forward.

At the maternity home in St. Charles, Bruch said she asked about how great the need was for such a home. They told her they average about 400 applications per year for their home.

When it comes to need, she added, there are no county lines, so she anticipates drawing applicants from other counties, as well.

Even though the home on Locust Street was move-in ready, Bruch said, they would need to repaint, add curtains and buy furniture.

“I am just so pleased with the care that the church has taken in maintaining this home,” she said.

The properly line is right next to the Bowling Green Library. There’s internet access and a new playground that was just completed there, as well.

Bruch noted that the house is situated in walking distance of almost everything downtown. “They would be able to open a bank account and go to the pharmacy. Some of these girls won’t have transportation, so they are going to have to rely on being able to walk places,” she added.

At some point, she said, there could be employment opportunities. Right now they don’t have the funds, so they would be staffing with volunteers.

“The house has always been in the Lord’s service, and the church wanted to continue that,” Brush said. They hope to have the house open by July.

To donate to Anne’s Anchor for this home they can be reached at P.O. Box 422, Bowling Green 63334 or through the group’s email at annesanchor@gmail.com. Bruch can be reached at 573-242-0429.

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