Words by Anna Lee Vaughn | Image by Ryan McGill
In 2008, Walker County native Jenny Odom was celebrating her graduation from the University of Alabama. Having earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in sociology, she was still determining the career path ahead of her. She moved back to Jasper and began searching for places to volunteer or job-shadow while at the same time considering pursuing a master’s degree in counseling.
She was soon given an opportunity that would lead her to change the lives of women all around Walker County. She was recruited by her mom’s coworker to volunteer with the Pregnancy Test and Resource Center (PTRC). Initially hesitant, Jenny soon discovered the position was right up her alley. She began working with the expectant mothers that came to PTRC seeking help, counseling them, and helping them receive prenatal care.
A few months later, a permanent position opened, and Jenny decided to apply. “Honestly, I had no idea really what I was applying for. We were very small back then, and in my mind, I thought this was just a part-time position,” she says.
It turns out that Jenny was applying for the position of Executive Director. She continues, “I think the Lord knew that if I really knew what I was getting into, I would have talked myself out of it because I didn’t have kids, and I didn’t have plans to have kids. I thought I probably had no business counseling these ladies, but I enjoyed doing this.”
Jenny decided that if God wanted her to stay at PTRC, He would allow her to have the job. Now, nearly 15 years later, she is still there, wearing many hats including counseling, running a mobile unit, fundraising, strategic development, budgeting, and ensuring the staff is equipped throughout the day. She is also overseeing PTRC’s move to a new building at 600 20th Avenue East in Jasper.
Even with all those responsibilities, Jenny’s primary focus is sharing the gospel with everyone who walks through the PTRC doors.
“We’re a ministry too, so our main focus is being able to share the gospel and let these moms and dads know that we love them, Jesus loves them, and they’ve got people behind them and in their corner,” says Jenny.
The PTRC offers pregnancy testing and ultrasounds, prenatal and parental education classes, and a closet with food, clothes, diapers, and other essentials for mothers with children up to two years old. If PTRC cannot help the mother with issues such as housing, adoption services, addiction, or domestic violence. In that case, they will refer her to an organization that can.
Jenny says her favorite part about her career is surpassing the expectations of the expectant mothers she sees.
“We have ladies that come into us, and a lot of times they’ve heard about us through word of mouth, but they don’t know what they’re walking into,” says Jenny. “To be able to meet their expectations and go above and beyond is great; we have so many moms and even dads that come to us that are just overwhelmed at how much we can help them.”
Jenny says when you are helping others, a little goes a long way. When it comes to giving, no amount is too big or too small. WL
For more information on PTRC’s services, call 205-221-5860.