Living Alternatives of Palestine considers it new digs at 101 W. Crawford St. a blessing, after getting the word a year ago it would have to move.
“Each time we have had to move, since opening in 1999, it has meant progress and growth, and ultimately a huge blessing,” said Board President Mirenda Harris during the agency's open house on Thursday.
The new quarters include three family counseling rooms, a children’s playroom with toys donated by KidCraft, a storage room, offices, and the store room where families can purchase infant or toddler items and earn credits.
From January to May 31, Living Alternatives has conducted 74 pregnancy tests, up from 45 during the same period last year. Last year, Living Alternatives served an average of 150 clients a week.
“Our services are for everyone,” Harris said. “We don’t ask questions about financial status. It’s not just for young girls. We are here for all women and parents who need us.”
Living Alternatives of Palestine, a non-profit that promotes alternatives to abortion, has served the Palestine area for more than 15 years. It does not offer abortion services or referrals.
Funded by Texas Pregnancy Care Network since 2011, the organization serves women with planned, unplanned, and crisis pregnancies with childbirth and parenting. Trained counselors listen to their concerns and answer questions about pregnancy, abortion, sexually transmitted diseases other issues.
The organization provides pregnancy testing, proof of pregnancy result forms, pregnancy and parenting education, pregnancy-loss and post-abortion support, counseling on pregnancy and options, life skills, parenting, and spirituality. It also helps connect clients with an adoption agency, and informs them of their rights. All services are free and confidential.
It also performs ultrasounds and sonograms, with an ultrasound technician on staff.
The Grace Giving program provides diapers, clothing, food, and other supports for pregnancy and parenting. In the Building Blocks program, mothers and fathers attend classes and earn credits that allow them to purchase items from their onsite store or online.
Living Alternatives also offers car seat education and lactation classes to help educate pregnant mothers about breastfeeding.
Taking multiple classes, they can accumulate credits to purchase bigger-ticket items, like car seats and cribs, or use them for smaller, more frequent purchases.
Those credits continue through the child’s second birthday. Each time parents attend a class, they are given enough diapers and wipes to supply them until the next class.
Classes include what to expect during pregnancy, nutrition, and exercise. “We walk all of our clients through their pregnancy, educating them on what to expect through each trimester and during childbirth.”
Parents can return to the program during their next pregnancy to take classes, including classes on positive ways to discipline, earn credits, and continue receiving the same services and necessities.
Living Alternatives offer abstinence classes and counseling as well as education on sexually transmitted diseases. It is a national leader in abstinence-focused sex and relationship education.
“In 2018, we were in a year of transition and we didn’t offer this program,” said Harris. “Now that we have moved to our new location, we hope to get back into our area schools to offer these programs again soon.”
The program offers five programs specifically designed for middle school and high school-aged students. It takes private donations and donations from many local churches.
Living Alternatives in Palestine is open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday. The agency takes appointments and walk-ins. It has a second location in Crockett at 603 E. Goliad Ave., Suite 204.
Office hours in Crockett are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. by appointment or walk-in on Tuesday; and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday by appointment only.
For information on volunteering or working at Living Alternatives of Palestine, or serving on its board, call 903-723-9944. To access the hotline, call 800-712-HELP (4357).