In celebration of its 25th anniversary, Real Alternatives presented its inaugural Founders Award on Sept. 28 to the Diocese of Harrisburg and the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, whose leadership enabled the start of the program in 1995.
Real Alternatives is the non-profit, charitable organization that administers Pennsylvania’s Pregnancy and Parenting Support Services. The General Assembly funds the program at $7.263 million through the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services in fiscal year 2019/2020.
Kevin Bagatta, President and CEO of Real Alternatives, presented the award on Sept. 28 to Bishop Ronald Gainer and Eric Failing, Executive Director of the PCC.
Begun in Pennsylvania 25 years ago, Real Alternatives has expanded to 20 additional states. It provides life-affirming pregnancy and parenting support services and empowers women to protect their reproductive health, avoid crisis pregnancies, choose childbirth rather than abortion, receive adoption education, and improve parenting skills.
The Pregnancy and Parenting Support Services Program in Pennsylvania is made up of a statewide or regional network of social service agencies, pregnancy support centers, maternity residences and adoption agencies that offer comprehensive, life-affirming alternatives to abortion to women dealing with unplanned pregnancies.
Since its inception, Real Alternatives has served more than 323,400 clients with pregnancy counseling, fetal development, housing referrals, financial counseling, parenting skills and stress management.
According to the organization, 60 percent of abortion-minded women, 85 percent of women who were pressured by others to abort their child, and 52 percent who were both abortion-minded and pressured to abort chose life for their child after receiving program services.
In presenting the Founders Award to Bishop Gainer and Failing, Bagatta said the recognition is to thank the Diocese and the pro-life groups – including the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation – whose leadership had the vision 25 years ago of a statewide program to empower women to make life-affirming choices.
For more information on Real Alternatives, visit www.RealAlternatives.org.
By Jen Reed
The Catholic Witness