OTTAWA — A large crowd from Lima and Putnam County turned out to help Heartbeat of Lima Inc. celebrate the grand opening of its first Putnam County branch.
“For years, Putnam County has not had a pregnancy center,” said Patti Kennedy, director of Heartbeat of Lima. “We have had a close connection to Putnam County; we had volunteers from Putnam County and clients from Putnam County come to Lima, but now, we can help right here.”
The new location is at 1225 E. Third St., Ottawa, next to the Putnam County WIC office.
Heartbeat of Lima is a non-profit pregnancy center providing pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and parenting classes for expectant and new parents, Kennedy said. The Ottawa location will provide all the services of the Lima location except for ultrasounds. Demand for that service is being weighed.
The Heartbeat of Lima Ottawa office will also provide baby goods to parents going through Heartbeat programs. The goods are donated, and parents earn points to purchase what they need for their children, up to age 3.
The supplies are also open to those in emergency circumstances if they have been referred to Heartbeat from a church, doctor’s office or a family agency like WIC.
The parenting classes are an important part of the Heartbeat of Lima program, she said. Mentors meet with parents to help them learn how to cope with different phases of their child’s development — like soothing an upset infant and dealing with a toddler’s temper tantrums.
“These classes don’t only teach valuable parenting skills but they also provide a mother or father figure to men and women who may not have had one growing up,” Kennedy said.
Bob Buss, one of the fatherhood mentors, said one of his favorite sessions to have with young men is teaching them how to spend quality time with their children. He teaches them there’s a difference between spending time with your child watching a football game and actually getting the football out and playing catch with him or her.
“If you don’t teach them to treat their son or daughter right, then the child doesn’t have a chance in the future,” he said.
Showing them respect is important too, he said. The volunteer mentors treat the men and women they’re working with in a respectful manner with the hope they will learn to respect themselves. Buss said the goal is to get them to respect themselves enough so they can show their children that same respect. If they respect themselves and their children it just might prevent any incidents of neglect, abuse or something worse, he said.
“My main mantra is about respect,” said Mike Lammers, Putnam County commissioner, while touring the new facility. “This is about respect for life and respect for mothers. If this facility is able to help one mother and one child, it’s worth it.”
For details on Heartbeat of Lima, call the Lima office at 419-222-7945.
Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362