Contrary to popular belief, crisis pregnancies are not exclusive to teenage girls who find themselves “in trouble” and are frightened by thoughts of the future. Crisis pregnancies can happen to the young married couple who isn’t financially prepared, to the graduate student who is barely able to make ends meet, and to the well-established married couple who doesn’t want their comfortable family to grow anymore. The word crisis is from a Greek word, krisis, which means decision. A crisis pregnancy is one that demands a decision on the part of the mother determining if she will raise her baby, give it up for adoption or have an abortion performed.
Twenty-six years ago, Kay Crosby was burdened by a question. The question that filled her thoughts was, “Where do women with unplanned pregnancies go for help?” There was no solution to be found in Clarke County or the surrounding areas, but Crosby knew this was a question that had to be answered. She posed her question to anyone who would listen including pastors and friends.
Crosby began receiving invitations to speak at churches and civic clubs. She was soon given contact information for Bob Foust of Alabama Sav-A-Life in Birmingham. Sav-A-Life is a network of comprehensive pregnancy care facilities that began in 1980. That contact led to a face-to-face meeting with Foust at her husband, Dr. Sid Crosby’s office at Family Medical Clinic.
Crosby says that during the meeting it was evident that “God was definitely orchestrating something beyond our imagination.” After a time of prayer, $500 was placed on Dr. Crosby’s desk as “faith money.” With this money, Kay Crosby opened up the checking account of what would become the Alpha Women’s Resource Center.
Alpha: The beginning
The first letter of the Greek alphabet is the alpha, which means “the beginning.” Pregnancy is viewed by many as the beginning of life. However, this is not the reason the name was chosen. The board that had been assembled believed that the abortion minded client would see the A in Alpha as they looked the word Abortion up in the phone book.
There was a board that met around the Crosbys’ kitchen table. There was a volunteer director, Mrs. Pat Jones. There was a checking account with meager funds, but there was no building.
Crosby began prayerfully driving through Jackson seeking a building, knowing that she lacked the budget for such. As she was driving past Jackson Middle School, she felt that God was telling her to stop and look at a small house owned by the Klepac family that was situated behind Visitation Catholic Church.
The Klepacs generously allowed the use of the building rent free. With volunteers coming together to use their time and talents to remodel and refurbish the home, the center opened its doors in February 1993.
To answer the question, “How did the Alpha Center start?” Crosby says emphatically, “A lot of people said yes to Jesus and He let us see Him move!”
The mission of the Alpha Women’s Resource Center has remained the same although the directors and locations have throughout the years.
The Alpha Center staff realizes the anxiety, fear and stress that accompany unplanned pregnancies. Their goal is to provide a safe, trustworthy environment for women to discuss their situations and become educated about their options. Providing accurate information about both pregnancy and abortion is an essential element for the Alpha Center staff. The ultimate goal is for the women who visit the center to be able to make informed decisions regarding crisis pregnancies.
All services of the Alpha Center are free and confidential. The center offers free pregnancy testing and free basic, limited diagnostic ultrasounds. The pregnancy tests are the same as those that would be administered at a medical clinic and are more accurate than a store bought test.
After a positive pregnancy test, women can choose to have an ultrasound. The ultrasound can determine how many weeks into a pregnancy a woman is and allow them to see images of the pregnancy. This can assist the woman in her decision-making process.
If a woman chooses to continue the pregnancy, the services of the Alpha Center continue to be available to her. Services include counseling, labor and delivery classes, breastfeeding classes, parenting classes and the earn while you learn program. Each of these services are confidential.
Earn While You Learn
One of the unique ways that the Alpha Center supports its clients is through the Earn While You Learn program. This program provides education to expectant parents and with each lesson they complete “Mommy Money” is earned. This accountability system provides a way for necessary baby items to be earned, simply by attending a class, watching a video lesson and completing a worksheet. Participants can earn diapers, formula, baby clothes, strollers and car seats.
The staff at the center develops individual lesson plans that are unique to each client’s needs. Examples of topics covered include prenatal care, self-esteem, discipline, post-partum, time management, and nutrition.
In early 2017, the Alpha Women’s Resource Center secured a mobile unit fully equipped with ultrasound and any other service that the brick and mortar center offers. Realizing that transportation is a problem in rural areas, the mobile unit can go into communities and provide services.
The mobile unit currently serves Clarke, Washington and Wilcox counties and will begin providing services in Choctaw County in the future.
The Jackson center and Mobile unit are the only crisis pregnancy options that are local. The closest other options are in Demopolis and Saraland.
The mobile unit has not been able to be utilized in recent months, but current center director, Diane Pruitt is hopeful that it will be back in operation within a week.
Progress over 25 years
What began with a burdening question has become a permanent ministry in the local area. It started with one employee. Currently there are five individuals on staff including a counselor and two registered nurses.
Fund-raising for the center continues year-round with various events including the annual Walk for Life that started 25 years ago.
The Alpha Center is a United Way partner agency.
Another way that the Alpha Center benefits is through the purchase of Choose Life car tags in Clarke County. The cost of each tag is $50 with $41.25 returning to the center.
Since January, the center has seen 190 clients through both the mobile unit and the office. These clients have attended 613 visits.
On Oct. 16, the Alpha Women’s Resource Center will host their annual banquet. Seats are still available and may be obtained by calling the center at 246- 7750. The guest speaker for the event will be Bob Foust, the same individual who met with the Crosbys at Family Medical Center in 1992.
Foust has worked with pregnancy resource ministries for more than 40 years. He has served as a consultant for the Alpha Center and was interim director during the early years of the ministry. He is nationally recognized by Focus on the Family, CareNet and is the founder of the Choose Life car tag grant program in Alabama.
The Alpha Center is always looking for volunteers who are willing to help in the baby store or become client advocates.
The state of the baby store is dependent on the donations of the community. Donations of diapers, wipes, bottles, formula, clothing and other baby items are accepted. Individuals or groups can host baby showers to collect these items. Diane Pruitt, who has been the director of the center since 2006, encourages individuals, families and churches to get involved by volunteering or donating items.
She also asks for the continued prayers from the community so that the Alpha Center can continue to provide quality care and valuable educational resources. “No client will leave without knowing all of their options. We educate them and give them time to process. So many decisions are emotionally driven. We want each client to know the facts about the sanctity of human life,” says Pruitt.
Weekly columnist. Feature Writer.