Hannah's Place resource center closes doors after 12 years

Since its creation in 2011, Hannah's Place has provided resources for pregnant women and families, from clothing and newborn supplies to educational materials.

Now, after 12 years of serving Wrangell, the nonprofit has closed its doors due to a lack of need.

Monday was the last day the organization operated at 206 Church St. in the building provided by the Presbyterian church next door. It started as a ministry by Maryann Landers to help young women in need.

"(She) had a heart for young women who maybe it was their first kid, maybe they didn't plan on being pregnant. That was her heart and this was her mission," said Kathy Watkins, the last executive director of Hannah's Place.

After Landers' husband was transferred out of town with his job as a state trooper, Nedra Shoulz took the reins and made it her own.

"It became Neda's passion, too. ... She loved working here. This was her heart and her ministry," Watkins said last Friday. "She really focused on providing free education."

Along with those educational courses that ranged in topic from pregnancy and birth to parenting and life skills - like cooking courses - Hannah's Place also provided clothing for maternity, newborns and toddlers, loaned out cribs and car seats and gave away other needed supplies.

Shoulz had helped Watkins in her recovery from a broken femur, and Watkins later helped teach sewing classes. Even though she is retired, when she heard about Shoulz's departure in October 2022 due to health reasons, Watkins stepped up to keep the doors open one day a week.

"It's one of those things where God puts you in the right place at the right time for the right reasons," she said.

Watkins said from a business standpoint, Wrangell isn't big enough to sustain a family resource center. Since she took over the executive director position in October, "not one person in Wrangell has contacted me for classes," she said. One woman in Sitka took the classes online.

Even though the space is provided free of charge, Hannah's Place still has to pay, on average, $400 a month in utilities and $119 a month for the educational courses which are provided through BrightCourse Lessons.

She believes that the organization has fulfilled its purpose, and if there was a need, there would be a way.

"If it's being utilized, you find a way to make it work and God provides," Watkins said. "If it's not being utilized, it's just putting money out."

There are still three rooms filled with infant and toddler clothing, baby furniture and other supplies. Board member Janell Privett said the board is still discussing the distribution of the items that have been donated or purchased by Hannah's Place. Some of the items are brand new with tags still attached.

Watkins pointed out that many businesses and other organizations will help fill the need for such items, whether through BRAVE, the thrift stores in town or through the Wrangell Ministerial Association.


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