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Moms need help, too

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Mother's Day is just around the corner, and moms across the country are preparing for a flood of nonspecific, non-offensive greeting cards, spa packages, potted plants, and crowded brunches. While family and friends get ready to rejoice and pay homage to their mothers, many unwary moms and moms-to-be will be reminded that motherhood is not always a purely joyous event. Unplanned pregnancies don't carry the same social stigma as they did in days gone by, but for women facing one, the financial challenges haven't become any easier. Some groups that claim to offer support or counseling have staunch religious or political agendas that consider the mother second. SLO Alpha isn't one of those groups. Its sole purpose is to support the woman through her pregnancy and into her child's infancy. It also offers adoption and post-abortion counseling.

MOMS IN MOTION :  (left to right) Joan Van, Ruth Sherrod, and Pam Hunsaker get ready to stroll for new moms at last years Alpha stroll-a-thon. - PHOTO BY INGRID PIRES
  • PHOTO BY INGRID PIRES
  • MOMS IN MOTION : (left to right) Joan Van, Ruth Sherrod, and Pam Hunsaker get ready to stroll for new moms at last years Alpha stroll-a-thon.

# "Alpha is meant to be non-judgmental, non-sectarian, and non-political. We have no agenda," Executive Director Ingrid Pires said. "Our focus is patients, not politics."

Alpha's patients can get services including counseling, pregnancy testing, and professional referrals. The group also provides women with prenatal vitamins, maternity and infant clothes, strollers, layettes, and emergency supplies such as diapers and formula. As part of the Alpha family, infants are also monitored for developmental changes, to make sure they're on track.

For all this to happen, though, Alpha needs the community's help. Just in time for Mother's Day, the group is hosting a stroll-a-thon on May 5 to raise money and strollers for new moms. The stroll around Laguna Lake should take about an hour, with stops along the way at informational booths and a face-painting station. The cost to enter is $25 before the event or $30 the day of. Any person who brings a new or gently used stroller to the stroll-a-thon will get $15 off. Participants will also receive a T-shirt and free continental breakfast.

If you've never heard of Alpha, there's a reason.

"We operated under the radar for many years," Pires explained. "We're not political, and sometimes we get heat from the passionately pro-choice and pro-life for not being more political, but everyone who works here has a profound respect for human life."

Pires estimates that Alpha serves more than 400 families every year, most of whom come in by word of mouth. During her tenure, Pires has seen women in their young teens all the way through their 50s and she estimates that close to a third of Alpha's clients are monolingual Spanish speakers.

"They come to us because there is a low level of bureaucracy," Pires said. "They trust what they hear from us, because they are referred by people they know, who have dealt with us."

The stroll-a-thon is set for May 5 at Laguna Lake. Sign up time is 9:45 a.m. Alpha has also placed giant baby bottles at locations around the county as part of its Change For Life campaign. To learn more about Alpha, call 541-3367 or visit www.sloalpha.org. It's located at 11549 Los Osos Valley Road #104, and has satellite locations in Grover Beach and Atascadero.

Kylie Mendonca compiled this week's Strokes and Plugs. Send your business news to rmiller@newtimesslo.com.

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