Thirty years ago, B.J. Graham was part of a group of people at her church trying to deal with a growing issue.
“We began addressing the issue of how to support the decision for life,” Graham said. “There was a group of us that came together in 1988 to explore the possibility of opening a pregnancy crisis center in Winchester. That was a group of women and men from Calvary Christian Church. From that, it has expanded to many churches and community partners.”
A year later, AA Pregnancy Center opened in Winchester. Through the three decades since, the organization has grown and moved twice; its current office on Jefferson Street is the third location in its history.
For Graham, it’s a continued calling. She has been involved with the organization, now called New Beginnings, since day one.
“I have been part of it since the beginning and have served in a variety of roles on the board and previously was the executive director here,” she said.
In 1989, AA started in a one-bedroom apartment on East Lexington Avenue. But the organization kept growing.
Today, New Beginnings is a growing agency meeting a number of issues involving pregnancy and children’s issues and needs.
“We outgrew that space and moved over to 53 S. Main St.,” she said.
In 2008, and with the help of a grant, they purchased the former Allen Company offices on Jefferson Street.
As the organization has grown to meet the ever-growing need, more partners and more churches have joined the cause as well.
“We started out with yard sales and raising funds a dime at a time to get where we are,” she said.
Today Graham and Dan Marksberry are the only two board members who were there when it began.
Both have witnessed the growth from working with women in crisis pregnancies to offering parenting classes, to working with grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. There is a men’s program to help fathers. There are women’s Bible studies. In 2015, New Beginnings added portable ultrasound services for new mothers. There are abstinence programs in schools which reached more than 2,000 students in 2016.
“We have evolved with society to meet the needs,” she said. “We’re still working with those girls. It’s also that family member who gets the call to the hospital” to take over care for a child.
“We’re reaching a huge amount of people,” she said. “Any Wednesday, you’ll see 30 to 40 people taking a parenting class or having a Bible study.”
New Beginnings keeps growing to meet needs, as it has since the beginning. Graham said she realized early on that she could have been one of the people needing the organization’s help.
“I feel it’s a calling from the Lord,” she said. “ I feel I very well could have been a girl that used these services, had a few circumstances been different.” §