For the past 26 years, the Pregnancy and Parenting Support Center in Lompoc has been offering a wide range of free services to families throughout the community.

Still, many locals don’t know the organization exists.

“We’re 20, 30 years down the road, and people still say, ‘I didn’t know you had that there,’” said John Puscheck, president of the nonprofit agency’s five-member board of directors.

Leaders within the organization are hopeful that will soon change.

The center, commonly referred to as the PPSC, held a ribbon-cutting Monday morning to celebrate its new membership with the Lompoc Valley Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau. Officials with the center said they were hopeful chamber membership would help lead to increased visibility, which could lead to more volunteers, donations and people served.

“It’s a way to let people know, ‘We’re here — come meet us,’” Rebecca Puscheck, the center’s executive director, said while noting that most people hear about the center through word of mouth.

The agency, which is an independent nonprofit, first opened its doors in Lompoc in 1992. It was originally located off of East Ocean Avenue but moved about four years ago to its current location at 1137 North H St., Suite K.

The center bills itself as a support agency for the Lompoc and Santa Ynez Valley communities. Among the free services offered are self-administered pregnancy tests, along with consultations and resources for social services and other organizations. The agency also provides free materials, such as maternity and baby clothes, and offers post-abortion services, such as counseling, as well as several classes.

The classes offered at the center cover such topics as parenting, prenatal care, personal budgeting, marriage mentoring and abstinence training and support.

According to its mission statement, the Pregnancy and Parenting Support Center in Lompoc seeks to “empower and equip individuals and families for positive, life-affirming decisions concerning relationships, pregnancy and parenting; (and) to facilitate choices for physical, emotional, spiritual and relational wholeness.”

The center serves about 1,200 clients per year, or about 100 per month, according to Rebecca Puscheck. She said the materials requests — for things like diapers and formula — are typically the most utilized services, but she noted that there are incentives for people to take classes and use other programs.

For example, people who complete classes are awarded points that they can then use to “shop” in the center’s boutique, which contains new clothes, child toys and car seats, among other baby-related items.

There’s a separate backroom at the center that houses all the donated items, which are typically lightly used. It is in that area that volunteers are especially needed to sort and organize, Rebecca Puscheck said.

The center’s normal hours of operation are from noon to 5 p.m. weekdays.

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Rebecca Puscheck noted that the center is "100-percent" funded by community supporters as she described the “multifaceted” need for increased visibility.

“The more support we get and the more volunteers (we get), we can expand our hours and then help more clients,” she said.

Although the agency is independent, it is affiliated with Heartbeat International, a Christian association that supports crisis pregnancy centers.

Elen Vanderhoof first learned about the Pregnancy and Parenting Support Center in Lompoc 20 years ago when she began volunteering as a liaison between the center and her church. About five years ago, she joined the board of directors.

She said she was confident the center would continue to expand and grow in its current location, which is both larger and in a more trafficked area than the old headquarters.

“There’s a lot of need in the Lompoc community,” she said, particularly pointing to the parenting and prenatal classes.

She said she’s hopeful the center will have a long future of ensuring that “families are supported throughout the young years of their children’s lives.”

For more information on the Pregnancy and Parenting Support Center in Lompoc, visit lompocpsc.wixsite.com/psclompoc or call 735-2353. The center also operates a 24-hour support line at 800-712-HELP (4357).

Willis Jacobson covers the city of Lompoc for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @WJacobsonLR.

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