BY MELANIE WADE –
Millie Ratzloff has been named the new Executive Director of Fresh Start Pregnancy and Resource Center in Mena. Candace Riner has served as interim director of Fresh Start for the past ten months. Riner said she is excited to continue to serve on the board of directors and volunteer to assist the center and staff with special events, fundraising, marketing and community relations.
Fresh Start is an affiliate of Care Net, which supports one of the largest networks of pregnancy centers in North America and runs the nation’s only real-time call center providing pregnancy decision coaching.
Ratzloff is a Care Net trained mentor and worked in a Care Net pregnancy center. Russell Threet, Board Chair and Pastor of First Baptist Church in Mena, said, “We are very excited about Millie coming to Fresh Start to lead the day to day operations of the ministry. We believe that her extensive background working for and leading in non-profit and ministry settings are going to mean great things for the future of the pregnancy center. However, the thing that was most important to me and the rest of the board was that we keep the focus on Jesus. We believe that Millie’s heart for Christ will mean that people that come into the center not knowing Christ will be impacted by the Gospel.”
Ratzloff comes from Arkansas and Northern Louisiana, being born in the Delta in Dermott. “While growing up, we often traveled to visited family. Many special memories throughout my life are from visiting here. Currently, I have extensive family that resides throughout the state,” said Ratzloff.
She also spent time being raised in the rural redwoods of Northern California, living on a farm. “My husband and I have a heart is for the rural communities and families. We enjoy living in this beautiful region.”
Bringing a long list of experience and certifications, Ratzloff is excited to begin her newest journey. Her experiences include: teaching and developing special education schools; social work; ministry; and advocating for children and families with numerous board positions. More recent positions were at the Pregnancy Care Center in Northern CA and CEO of a Family Resource Center. “It has been a privilege to work with churches and civic organizations, as well as diverse people groups.”
Her extensive training and certifications were obtained through Cal Baptist University, Simpson College, and Pepperdine University, in addition to numerous conferences and workshops on Child and Family needs.
“My personal experience with Pregnancy Care Centers began when my oldest daughter, who was a six and a half month preemie, needed clothes that our local stores didn’t carry. The local PCC had the tiny clothes available. The clothing and support through the months after her birth provided encouragement when it looked hopeless.”
She began a lifelong association with PCCs when she was recommended to have an abortion while pregnant with her son. “He was a five and a half month baby who doctors said had no chance to live normal life. Then, I was asked if I wanted to save him at birth; he was not developed. To make a long story short, he developed perfectly. He has become a wonderful husband, father, and employee and we are extremely proud to be his parents.”
Another recommendation for an abortion came to Ratzloff when she was twelve weeks pregnant with her youngest daughter and a doctor tried to abort her without permission. “Thankfully, I carried her to ten months. She became the first girl in the California Miss American Teen pageant to win every category and scholarship. She is a wife, the mother of a beautiful and extremely intelligent little boy, and an award winning Ombudsman for the Navy,” explained Ratzloff proudly.
Stepping into her next role, Ratzloff said, “It is privilege and a challenge to accept the position of Director for Fresh Start. I am available to speak at churches, organizations, and visit ladies groups. No group is too large or too small.” She recommends calling Fresh Start to scheduled an appointment or arrange a visit. All clients’ information is kept confidential and they protect their privacy.
“I often wonder what my life and others would have been like without all of the joy that my children have brought . . . children I was told to forget,” said Ratzloff. “We are blessed with three biological children and one adopted, which have made us grandparents to fifteen and one great-granddaughter. Motherhood and being a grandmother are my greatest joy.”
Fresh Start is located at 1308 Hwy 71 N in Mena next to A & B Tire. You can call them at 479-394-1186 or check out their website at: www.FreshStartPRC.org