“The enemy has really fought,” Sharita Ladson, executive director of Alpha Alternative Pregnancy Care Center in Hopkinsville, Ky., said. “When you offer life, that’s the ministry you’re in, there’s fight. There’s warfare.”
Situated in eastern Kentucky about 30 miles north of the Tennessee border, Alpha Alternative reaches a milestone this year: 25 years of serving women in the community. A celebration and fundraising event is planned for May 2.
Despite various challenges, Ladson, who has been the executive director for about two years, said, “We are still serving clients in our community.”
And growing. Recently purchased by an anonymous Tennessee-based company that will lease it to the center for a dollar per year, a mobile unit—complete with ultrasound and nurses to operate the equipment—will be in operation in early 2017, Ladson said.
“We will service our community (and) surrounding counties and go to Nashville (about 62 miles away) at least once a month,” she said.
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The plan is to park the unit once a month in front of a Music City abortion clinic, about 62 miles away from the center’s location. Throughout the month, the mobile unit will serve as an ideal vehicle to reach several communities between Hopkinsville and Nashville.
A nurse manager will be hired and volunteer nurses will conduct the medical portion of the client’s appointment. Adding a nurse manager to the staff will help with the organization’s credibility, Ladson said.
“We believe that with us going medical and being new to the medical model of the pregnancy care center, we need that paid staff,” she said.
Currently, Alpha Alternative offers several programs in addition to pregnancy testing and pregnancy options consultation. Those programs include Earn While You Learn, post-abortion healing, pregnancy loss counseling, and abstinence education.
In addition to becoming medical with a mobile unit, Alpha plans to start a men’s ministry—which could be a perfect time to involve a small group of men who are set to drive the van in a more robust way.
Alpha Alternative sees 20 to 25 clients a month, most of whom come for the Earn While You Learn program. By becoming medical and having a mobile unit with ultrasound, Ladson has her eyes set on a much broader reach as time goes on.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, the abortion rate in Kentucky has declined by about 50 percent during the past 20 years. As of Dec. 2015, the had state implemented restrictions on abortion, including a 24-hour waiting period and parental consent for minors. Some women travel to Tennessee to obtain the procedure, though Tennessee has state laws similar to Kentucky’s.
Alpha opened in 1991 but the planning and praying began a decade before that.
“Alpha Alternative started with a group of young ladies in the 1980s…they came together realizing they needed something like this,” Ladson said. “A lot of them had had crisis pregnancies. They got together and prayed and prayed and talked and met. And finally in 1991 Alpha was opened to service the women and families in our community.”
Ladson, herself post-abortive, believes her experience and those of other staff and volunteers who have experienced a crisis pregnancy or pregnancy loss, helps better engage the women that they see. Those connections and the various ways Alpha helps clients keeps the staff and volunteers fighting through the rough times.
“The joy of seeing women come and be healed and see that they can be changed—we’ve really seen a lot of transformation of people’s lives—it keeps you going,” Ladson said. “When you’ve been healed and to see other people receive that same healing, it keeps you going regardless of the difficulties you may have.”
As Ladson and her team plan for the immediate and long-term future, they find joy in serving the people of their community and beyond despite the challenges.
“We see the need for our future (as a center),” Ladson added. “Millennials don’t really come into a center and they don’t go to church. What we’re trying to do is go, go out and reach them, to meet people where they are.
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“It’s been a blessing to me,” Ladson added. “We’re here to serve and to help … in the process we’re helped—that has been a great joy for me.”