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Opp is new director at Hope For Life Pregnancy Center in Charles City

Opp is new director at Hope For Life Pregnancy Center in Charles City
Gayle Opp is the new director at Hope For Life Pregnancy Center in Charles City. (Press photo James Grob.)
By James Grob, jgrob@charlescitypress.com

Gayle Opp may be the new director at Hope For Life Pregnancy Center in Charles City, but she’s a familiar face in Charles City.

Opp started on Wednesday this week at Hope For Life, and she and her husband, Dr. Curtis Opp, came to Charles City in 1996 when they bought the Optometric Center. Gayle also previously directed the home-school assistance program for the Charles City School District.

Although she admits that she’s still a “newbie, learning everything as we go,” she said she feels comfortable in the director position.

“I feel complete peace with it. I feel that this is a position that God has actually put me into,” Opp said Thursday, her second day at the job. “I’m able to use my own story and my own history to maybe help somebody else.”

Opp is originally from South Dakota and attended college at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, before the Optometric Center brought her and her husband to Charles City. The two have five children ranging in age from 12 to 27. They adopted the two youngest — two girls from China.

As a junior in high school more than 30 years ago, Opp became pregnant and put her own child up for adoption. She feels that experience will help guide her as director at Hope For Life.

“I have a passion for helping moms in crisis pregnancies, partially because I was in my own crisis pregnancy many years ago,” she said. “A place like this would’ve been life-saving for me. It would have been a huge benefit to have a place to go and a safe place that a mom can share and be supported and helped.”

Hope For Life has just two paid employees — Opp and administrator/volunteer coordinator Lynelle Shirk — otherwise it’s volunteer-run. The center describes itself as “a Christ-centered, pro-life ministry, committed to sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ and upholding the sanctity of human life by providing compassionate, life-affirming services to women, men and their families facing an unplanned pregnancy and related issues.”

Services include free pregnancy testing, ultrasound, pregnancy counseling, parenting and life skills classes for both men and women, Bible studies, and post-abortion counseling. The center is funded by grants, individuals, groups and churches.

“The main focus is to have a safe place for women in a crisis pregnancy to go to find support and be loved.” Opp said.

Last year, volunteer nurses at Hope For Life received ultrasound tech training, which Opp said was a big boost to the center in terms of the services it can offer.

Opp also lauded the center’s “Earn While You Learn” program, in which an expectant parent can earn points by participating in parenting classes. Points can then be used to acquire items such as diapers, wipes, formula, baby clothes, blankets, toys and maternity clothing.

Hope For Life is hoping to start a men’s ministry in the near future, which would be a mentorship program for dads to learn how to support expectant mothers.

In the meantime, Opp is hoping to get to know her job and get to know the women the center serves. She said nothing brings her out of her office quicker than the sound of a “precious cry of a newborn baby” in the front lobby area.

“To build some meaningful relationships with these women is probably the main goal for me,” she said. “I want to see these women thrive.”

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