VICKI BLACKBURN, a volunteer with Living Alternatives Pregnancy Resource Center, organizes baby clothes that have been donated to the center. New parents enrolled in the centerís programs earn baby bucks that can be used to obtain clothing, diapers and other baby items from the center. Living Alternatives is set to open at 695 S. Broadway in Coal City this month to help women with crisis pregnancies.
Ann Gill Editor
Living Alternatives Pregnancy Resource Center is set to open its doors this month to provide women in southern Will and Grundy counties with options and assistance when facing an unexpected pregnancy.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, Will County has the third highest rate of abortion in the state of Illinois with 1,377 performed in 2011, most to women in a state of crisis.
Living Alternatives provides a variety of services to help expectant mothers and save the lives of unborn children.
Tami Rush is the project coordinator for the agencies new center in Coal City. She's been involved with Living Alternatives for over 5 years as a client advocate at its Kankakee site.
The pregnancy resource center offers on-site pregnancy testing, limited ultrasound services, confidential and caring support, parenting education, adoption resources and parenting assistance.
Rush said a study of local women between high school age and 40 showed there was a need for a local resource center. So the search began for a space and through the assistance and generosity of Dr. Juli Weber-Micetich and her husband, Dr. Jonathan Micetich Living Resources found a new home at 695 S. Broadway in Coal City.
The first pregnancy resource center was established in Springfield in 1985, since then 12 centers have opened in Illinois and Indiana. Four of those centers also are medical clinics.
Rush hopes to expand the center into a medical clinic, but until that happens the local office will have nurse on staff and a medical advocate. Local obstetrician Dr. Peter Vienne is the center's medical director.
Through the local center women can obtain free pregnancy testing and support services.
Living Alternatives Helping Others Parent through Education (HOPE) program helps pregnant women work through alternatives in order to make informed decisions, offers emergency aid to expectant mothers, provides them with parenting education and educates the general public on abstinence and alternatives to abortion.
HOPE gives women, "a hand up, not a hand out," Rush said.
Those in the HOPE program meet weekly with a mentor on topics including prenatal education, bonding with baby, character building and health.
Women who take part in partnering education programs, well appointments and other services can earn baby bucks that can be used to acquire clothing, diapers, wipes, formula and other necessary baby items that have been donated to the center.
Living Alternatives also provides emergency assistance to mothers with the intent of them coming back to take part in some of the other programs offered at the center.
Given its goal of saving the lives of unborn children, the center also provides adoption assistance to those who, for one or more reasons, are unable to care for their child.
Those interested in adoption will be paired with an adoption coordinator who will then provide information on adoption attorneys, as the center is not a licensed adoption agency. The coordinator will work with the parent through all stages of adoption.
The Rocking Chair is another program offered by Living Alternatives to help parent's prepare for an adverse pregnancy. The program assists parents with the creation of a birth plan, provides contact information on local support groups, will assist parents with planning a memorial service for their child and the collection of keepsakes .
The services of Living Alternatives is open to anyone from anywhere, "the services are confidential and we do not judge, we're here to help." Rush said.
Pregnancy Resource Centers operate solely on donations and the new center must have a financial base in place to cover operating expenses before it can open.
Rush said the community has been open to the concept and generous in its support. Several local organizations, churches and business have provided assistance. The center's furnishings have been provided by Rolando's Furniture and Appliance, Cyber Broadcasting has worked with the center to provide telephone and internet services, donations also allowed for the office to be painted and the carpets cleaned.
Rush said she's grateful for the support.
Individuals can partner with Living Alternatives by making a monetary donation, volunteering, donating baby items, organize a baby shower or holding a baby bottle drive.
The baby bottle drive seeks monetary donations to provide assistance to mothers. Rush said on average a baby bottle filled with change will bring in around $25 which covers the cost a case of diapers, wipes or formula.
Individuals interested in learning more about Living Alternatives or donating to the center can e-mail Rush at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 815-922-9301