Known for providing essential items to local parents in need, Bartow Family Resources also continues to assist a similar overseas outreach. Referred to as Bartow Barahona, the organization was planted by BFR and opened in 2017 in the southwest portion of Dominican Republic.
“Bartow Barahona is a standalone mission with no financial backing from a more significant ministry,” said Cartersville resident Maryland Guthas, former BFR executive director and stateside coordinator for Bartow Barahona. “I organized a small fundraising campaign, and God brought roughly a dozen sustaining local partners who donate monthly or quarterly. Bartow Family Resources is a lifesaver by paying the rent on the building, a gift of $777 per month.
“Josefina [Lerebours, Bartow Barahona director], now age 71, refuses to take a salary but instead lives off her U.S. retirement each month. Because of the extreme poverty of her staff, she blesses them with a small offering each month. Josefina and I realize that BB is a miracle mission because the Lord brings in the manna each month, enough for what is needed.”
According to a recent Bartow Barahona report, some of the ministry’s efforts include rescuing more than 25 girls from prostitution; enrolling over 30 females at a university; encouraging more than 80 to finish high school and furnishing their supplies and uniforms; continuing to provide spiritual guidance and counseling, and conducting monthly healing and growing conferences; and distributing items — such as diapers, wipes, milk, formula, baby food and used clothing to single mothers.
“It's four hours from the nearest public airport, and unlike other parts of the island, it has little to no tourism,” Guthas said. “When you walk through the doors of the center, it's like walking into Bartow Family Resources in so many ways.
“Josefina has duplicated the model and operates in a very similar manner offering life skills classes in exchange for goods. Since opening in 2017, BB has become a resource the entire community has come to depend on. Because there is no significant ministry presence in the city and the churches are so impoverished, the poor have found a place of hope that they previously didn't have.”
Bartow Family Resources Executive Director Kim Lewis called supporting Bartow Barahona the “very heart of God.”
Established in 1989 as a crisis pregnancy center, BFR now is situated at 200 Leake St. Suite 107 in Cartersville. Along with its Babies & More wing, the nonprofit also features a medical clinic and a relationship Center. Last year, BFR recorded more than 5,000 client visits between its three components.
“We know that Scripture tells us to take care of the widows and orphans,” Lewis said. “Almost every one of Josefina's clients are single with little means of support or family to help them. They are like orphans having children. Some have lost their husbands due to death and are young widows trying to make ends meet.
“One way local residents can support this mission is prayer. They are currently under strict COVID restrictions and have a fraction of the health care options that we have. We also need people to give toward this mission. It costs us about $800 for every shipment we send. We try to send diapers, clothes and infant supplies, like medicine and diaper rash ointment every quarter.”
As noted by Guthas and Lewis, Bartow Barahona was spearheaded and now directed by Lerebours — one of BFR’s former volunteers.
“For many years, we had a volunteer here at BFR named Josefina Lerebours who worked with our Hispanic clients and did an incredible job,” Lewis said. “Her husband was pastor of their Hispanic church and she had a powerful ministry to women. Josefina was born in the Dominican Republic but had not lived there for 50-plus years.
“… Josefina began to research teen and unwed pregnancy and discovered that the highest rate for both was in a town in southwest Dominican called Barahona. For three years, Josefina prayed about whether or not God would want her to move back to the island and implement a strategy and plan like BFR to help impoverished women and babies there in Barahona.”
Along with “help and hope,” Lewis shared Bartow Barahona has provided Bible studies, parenting classes and other items to thousands of women since its inception.
“They are able to shop in the baby boutique for clothing, milk and diapers, just like we do here,” she said. “It's a wonderful program and the only one of its kind on the entire island.”
Those interested, can learn more information about Bartow Barahona on its Facebook page or by contacting the BFR at 770-382-7224. Extending thanks to local supporters, Guthas shared significant funding was generated for Bartow Barahona during the Shop With a Purpose benefit in Cartersville last month.
“We are so grateful to all who donated and purchased items at our recent sale,” Guthas said. “With the hardships caused by the pandemic, Josefina has been called on more than ever to help with emergency food and assistance. This crisis has put a strain on an already tight budget, and the proceeds from the sale were a godsend.
“We sold $3,000 worth of furniture and home items, and another $3,000 was donated, resulting in a total of $6,000. The funds went toward restocking the milk used for undernourished infants and toddlers as well as other items needed for families out of work due to COVID-19.”
For Guthas, one of Shop With a Purpose’s “biggest blessings” came from LIVE2540, an international nonprofit based in Cartersville.
“Daryl Roberts, the founder and president of LIVE2540, formerly known as Orphan Aid, Liberia, gave a significant donation to the mission,” she said. “How beautiful is it when ministries partner together to reach the hurting?
“The impact it had on our team is difficult to describe. We were all in tears. For that demonstration of compassion and love, we are eternally grateful.”