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August 28, 2017

Alternatives celebrates 30 years of helping women choose life

REGIONAL
Story and photo by Carolee McGrath

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Alternatives Pregnancy Center in Greenfield holds an open house Sunday, Aug. 27. Pictured are volunteers (left to right): Joanne Dowdy, Deacon George Nolan, Kate Driscoll, Cindy Opalenik, Helen Shea Murphy, and Judy Kennedy.

 

GREENFIELD – In a beautiful Victorian home converted into office space, volunteers have been welcoming women facing unplanned pregnancies for 30 years. Alternatives Pregnancy Center, located on Main Street in Greenfield, has a simple mission.

“Our philosophy is to meet a woman where she is at and walk with her from there,” said Kate Driscoll, executive director of the nonprofit organization.

Alternatives held an open house Sunday, Aug. 27, from 12 to 5 p.m., welcoming volunteers and families in need. The center, run primarily by volunteers, is funded entirely by area churches and donors. It offers free pregnancy tests, counseling, maternity and baby clothes, post-abortive counseling and community referrals.

“It’s ecumenical. We have a lot of Protestant churches that support us, and Catholic (ones). It’s a common effort and shared ground,” Driscoll explained about the partnership between the area churches working to protect unborn babies and their mothers.

This summer, Alternatives began to offer free ultrasounds for women, provided by a partner pregnancy center’s mobile medical unit. The Clear Ultrasound Medical Mobile unit is owned by A Women’s Concern center in Revere. Alternatives has been able to bring it to the Greenfield area three times this summer at a cost of $500 per visit. The unit is staffed by a registered nurse who is also a licensed ultrasound technician.

“It’s really to verify your pregnancy. We’re getting it going. It’s going to take a little while. We drove it around. We’re trying to get visibility,” Driscoll continued.

Studies have shown women who do see an ultrasound often change their mind about having an abortion. Driscoll is hoping to work with churches in Amherst to make the mobile medical unit available to college students.

“Most people find us on the internet. When they call us, before they do anything, I say why don’t you get an ultrasound,” said Driscoll. “It does make a big difference for a lot of women.”

Alternatives also uses a new app called “Little One” to show women ultrasound images that detail the different stages of fetal development on an iPad.

“It will show the woman what the baby looks like and the developmental milestones. It’s part of an informed decision and shows them what’s at stake if she gets an abortion,” Driscoll added.

Alternatives works with 30 to 40 clients per year from all over Franklin County. While the crisis pregnancy center is a Christian organization, they work with women of all faiths and backgrounds.

“We ask them if there’s a religious part of their life that they’d like us to be aware of. We don’t push it, but we’re certainly praying for them before, during and after,” said Cindy Opalenik, a volunteer counselor. Opalenik and other volunteers encourage the Catholic community to join in prayer for all women considering an abortion.

“Prayer is like the foundation of everything we do. It’s our fundamental way of having a connection to our God. We don’t proselytize to our clients but we bring the face of Jesus Christ to people we serve by the way we treat them, interact with them and empathize with their situation,” said Deacon George Nolan, of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Greenfield.

All of the services offered by Alternatives are free.

For more information, call (413) 774-6010 or log on to alternativespregnancycenter.org.