By Ryan Richardson
A fundraiser to benefit LifeChoices is slated for Thursday night, as the organization that offers, among other things, pregnancy counseling prepares to open an operation in Carthage.
The volunteer-driven, nonprofit organization has operated in Joplin for 24 years, according to Karolyn Schrage, executive director. The fundraiser is aimed at helping secure funds to open the Carthage location. It will feature a live auction that will mix awareness of services with auction items, in addition to hors d’oeuvres and desserts for attendees.
“This is a big deal for us because we are so dependent on the community supporting us,” Schrage said this week. “The people in the Four-State Area have been incredible about supporting us either through money, volunteering or by word of mouth. We hope that this continues as we expand into Carthage.”
Schrage said Carthage community members approached the organization about expanding. After working through the planning stages last year, LifeChoices will open its Carthage center by the end of June at 2337 Fairlawn Drive and plans a grand opening on July 9.
LifeChoices has nine area physicians who volunteer their services; two of them will work at Carthage. The organization provides free testing for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV testing; cancer screening for men and women; pregnancy counseling, including laboratory-grade pregnancy testing and ultrasound verification; and parenting classes. The group’s website states it does not perform abortions or refer for abortions.
“We are non-political and pro-people when it comes to those dealing with a sexual health crisis,” Schrage said. “We want people who come through our door to be taken care of medically. We are free of charge, and we are confidential.”
Schrage said that $225,000 will be needed to open the Carthage operation. It has raised just under $100,000 so far. The organization does not receive state funding, she said, though some testing supplies are provided by the Missouri Department of Health.
She said the group wants the fundraiser to not be just about money. “We want it to be geared towards informing the attendees of everything we will offer the city,” Schrage said. “We want people to know what we do and how we can help them, but to also know that we depend on the community to keep the doors open.”
Time and place
The auction will run from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Fairview Christian Church, 2320 Grand Ave., in Carthage. Information: Jordynn Griffith at 417-623-0131.