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.
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.)