A new home for Real Options in Manchester

The organization that has evolved into Real Options has served people in New Hampshire’s largest city for many years. Real Options recently welcomed visitors to an Open House at its new West Side location. Windy, the Center Manager, showed me around the new place and filled me in on what’s happening there. I’m grateful for her cheerful hospitality.

Like its partner organization, Real Options in Nashua, the center offers services that go beyond crisis pregnancy support. I met Rachel, a nurse manager, whose work includes ultrasound scans for pregnant women; a physician serves as overall Medical Director. Windy told me about the center’s parenting classes and peer support for women and for men. (In recent years, every pregnancy care center I’ve visited has seen a big increase in requests for services for dads.) She showed me the Baby Boutique, full of baby clothes, furniture, baby supplies, and even some maternity clothing for clients. I saw the counseling rooms where a client advocate can meet with a client in privacy and safety.

From Facebook.com: photos from the Real Options Manchester Open House.

I asked Windy what kinds of donations would be particularly helpful. She quickly expressed gratitude for everything people have provided, but then let me know that a few things stand out. Diapers, training pants, and wipes, of course – “especially wipes,” given the center’s current supply. Also, gift cards to Target or Walmart can be used by the center to purchase car seats; used seats can’t be accepted as donations due to ever-evolving safety regulations on such items.

I had a chance to speak with executive director Lindsay Hyvonen, a dynamic ambassador for Real Options. One of the first things she said to me: “This is about empowering women.” Clients get the information they need to exercise authentic choice, without judgment or coercion. Real Options is a Christian-based organization, but its services are not limited to people who share that faith. It is an agency that provides alternatives to abortion without providing abortion, and it will not benefit financially from any woman’s decision about her pregnancy.

Lindsay is enthusiastic about the new space. With two entrances, clients can have a peaceful waiting area while donations and deliveries come in through another door. Clients have secure spaces to meet with advocates; the medical area is private; the staff has a meeting room; the boutique is spacious. Lindsay hopes to turn yet another room into a place of prayer and refreshment for volunteers and visitors, while preserving privacy for clients. She and Windy both mentioned parking to me when I asked how the new office’s advantages compared to the old site off Elm Street. Free parking is a welcome bonus for clients and visitors alike.

The photos in this post are taken from the Facebook post of The Friends of Life NH, supporters of Real Options. Head to thefriendsoflife.org for more information. To contact the Real Options office in Manchester, call (603) 623-1122.

(Also see this blog’s page Pregnancy Resources in New Hampshire for contact information for other pregnancy care centers.)

Year in review: a surprising #1 spot on the blog

In politically momentous year for life-issue news, the most popular post on Leaven for the Loaf wasn’t technically a “post” at all. It wasn’t even political. It was a page: Pregnancy Resources in New Hampshire.

I wrote about the Dobbs decision and the leak that preceded it, and those posts drew a lot of readers. Likewise for alerts about important hearings in Concord. But the number one thing that readers sought here in 2022, judging from the number of views, was information on the pregnancy care centers and allied agencies providing support for babies and parents alike.

That’s fitting, in a year when we’ve been reminded repeatedly that political victories have their limits. I think when Dobbs pushed abortion policy to the states, it also prompted us to look at what we’re doing locally in terms of service and witness. People are looking for practical ways to help.

Some abortion advocates used Dobbs as an excuse to attack pregnancy care centers. All the more reason to keep those centers going and thriving, in my opinion.

People of the year

My People of the Year are the individuals behind the New Hampshire centers providing abortion-free care. Each staff member and volunteer is critical to the success of a center. The relationships they build with the people they serve do more than any court can do to build a culture of life. I nod to donors as well. Financial support translates good intentions into positive action.

The “do better” award

If I still had a little scuffed participation trophy from my kids’ earliest years on the town soccer team, I’d haul it out and re-purpose it here.

My “Do Better” award goes to the 2022 political candidates who talked about inflation when opponents were talking about how abortion limitations threatened women’s lives. You know who you are. The voters sure do.

Coming in 2023

Pro-Life Journeys, an anthology from the first ten years of Leaven for the Loaf, will be published within a few days on Amazon. I’m very excited to share stories from some of the most inspiring people I’ve written about, who deliver timeless messages. Watch for more information in the next Leaven email newsletter, coming out the first week in January.

Leaven for the Loaf will be covering legislation in Concord, keeping you updated on what’s happening and how you can affect the outcome. I’m especially keen to report on the effort to pass an amendment to the state constitution that would give abortion constitutional protection. It’s a budget year, and budgets involve more than numbers; recall that’s how the Fetal Life Protection Act was finally passed in 2021.

Because of the razor-thin GOP majority in the New Hampshire House, leaders of the minority were able to persuade House leadership that a 50-50 split of committee seats was a good idea. Look forward to some interesting outcomes in Judiciary, for example.

I intend to report on more pregnancy care centers and their services. The leaders of Pathways in Littleton and Options in Rochester have been generous with their time when I’ve visited them. They left me with a new understanding of how to serve a community.

Are you planning a pro-life event in your area? I’d like to hear about it and possibly cover it for the blog. Send me an email at ellenkolbnh@gmail.com.

My speaking schedule for 2022 will kick off in a couple of weeks at a private event in Hollis. May I help you as a speaker for your event or show? Send me an email and let’s discuss it.

On a personal note

Readers who have been kind enough to follow my writing across several blogs on unrelated topics can now keep up with the whole darn thing at ellenkolb.com. I guarantee it’ll be the only site you’ll see from an activist pro-life New Hampshire Catholic hiker who can’t stop scribbling. I hope you’ll join me there and subscribe to the site’s own newsletter.

May God bless you abundantly in the New Year!

Best of 2020: pro-life neighbors at work

No contest: this year’s rock stars have been the staff, volunteers, and board members of New Hampshire agencies that offer pro-life assistance and support to pregnant and parenting women.

This odd year calls for an unusual best-of list. I won’t list multiple categories or runners-up. Pregnancy care centers have swept the board, as far as I’m concerned. They are committed to being effective and abortion-free.

Here’s a link to contact information for the agencies I know about. There’s probably one near you, if you’re a Granite Stater. I welcome corrections and updates.

Continue reading “Best of 2020: pro-life neighbors at work”

Care Net: John Oliver Gets It Wrong About Pregnancy Centers

My idea of late-night TV is Twilight Zone re-runs, and I don’t subscribe to HBO. I was thus not in the audience when someone named John Oliver did a recent critical piece on pro-life pregnancy care centers. Care Net CEO Roland Warren was watching, though, having been asked for information by Oliver’s staff. Apparently, very little of Care Net’s information made it onto the show.

Not to worry. Warren answered back. And I didn’t need an HBO subscription to hear him. Neither do you. Enjoy these nine edifying minutes.