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Local nonprofits Center Point, Teen Pregnancy Prevention announce merger
Director of Wilheit Services Kathy Webb, right, holds a counselor-in-training session Friday afternoon at Center Point in Gainesville with Stephanie Johnston, left, Lindsay Shope, top, and Jelessa Robinson. Teen Pregnancy Prevention Inc. is merging with Center Point in 2016 in an effort to better coordinate and strengthen services to young people and their families.

Two local United Way agencies have announced plans to merge in 2016.

Following separate votes by both organizations, Teen Pregnancy Prevention Inc. will merge with Center Point in an effort to better coordinate and strengthen services to young people and their families. Beginning Dec. 31, 2015, all future operations of Teen Pregnancy Prevention will go through Center Point.

A 27-year-old organization, Teen Pregnancy Prevention provides age-appropriate prevention programs, counseling and support services.

Center Point provides counseling, mentoring, substance-abuse prevention and religion education to youth and families throughout Gainesville and Hall County.

United Way of Hall County President Jackie Wallace said it was a smart move — and not just for these two nonprofits.

“This is a sign of what we all need to be looking at within our organizations,” Wallace said. “When we can combine efforts and focus on the issues together, that is advantageous.”

Wallace said United Way of Hall County currently funds 44 different programs from 23 different organizations. United Way of Hall County funds two Center Point programs and three Teen Pregnancy Prevention Inc. programs.

David Smith will continue to serve as executive director of Center Point. Barbara Hicks, the longtime executive director of Teen Pregnancy Prevention, will join Center Point to provide supervision and program development of teen pregnancy prevention and support services.

“I want to stress that this merger will strengthen, not end, all the wonderful pregnancy prevention programs led by Barbara Hicks and her organization,” Smith said. “Our two agencies have always collaborated, but now we will be under one roof to provide an even greater holistic and coordinated approach to working with the young people of our community.”

As part of the merger, Hicks and her five-member staff of licensed social workers and educators will join Center Point as employees. The combined operations are expected to increase revenues for the organization while reducing expenses in areas such as accounting and insurance, Smith said.

“The biggest beneficiary of this merger is the Gainesville-Hall County community,” Hicks said. “Together, our combined organization will be able to fill in some gaps and provide an even greater array of coordinated support services to youth and families. In the long run, we will be saving money for the taxpayers of this community by reducing poverty, indigent health care costs, crime and other issues that often result from teenage pregnancies.”

Center Point was founded in 1967 by four area churches with the mission to supplement and broaden religion education for local youth. While the agency provides support to the Gainesville and Hall County school systems, it operates independently as a SACS-accredited academic program. Through the years, the original Center Point mission has further evolved with the hiring of a team of educators and licensed clinical psychologists, therapists and social workers.

Located near Gainesville High School, Center Point is currently working to open a second location to provide greater access to youth and families in South Hall. A $1.1 million capital campaign to open Center Point South in Oakwood is planned for 2016.

“We presently work with about 7,000 youth and families each year throughout the community,” Smith said. “With the addition of Center Point South, we hope to reach and positively impact another 3,000 lives annually with our programs.”

In addition to United Way, Center Point receives funding from private donors, foundations, local governments, Gainesville and Hall County schools and state grants. While counseling services are fee-based, Center Point does not turn away any youth and families for financial reasons. Funding support is provided through the agency’s Wilheit Services program.