Calendar May 16, 2019 14:16

Lennart Nilsson, Pioneering Photographer of the Miracle of Life

Real Alternatives serves residents of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Indiana by providing free, non-judgmental, life-affirming crisis pregnancy centers. The state partner organization also offers counseling and parenting support services. To date, approximately 300,000 women have accessed Real Alternatives’ help in these three states. In early 2017, the world lost a revered figure with the death of Swedish photographer Lennart Nilsson at age 94.

In the 1960s, Nilsson took groundbreaking pictures of babies still in the womb. The highly detailed images, including facial close-ups, illustrated the cycle of human development before birth in ways that the public had never seen. Lennart Nilsson began the project in the early 1950s using specialized electron microscopes and other equipment. After 12 years of work, he published the photos in Life magazine, then in A Child Is Born, a book that became an international success, quickly going through five Swedish editions and appearing in 25 other languages, including English.

Although Nilsson never received any medical or scientific training, the government of Sweden honored him a few years before his death with a lifetime achievement award for his pursuit and transmission of knowledge. Pregnancy support centers, social service agencies, and maternity homes greatly used Lennart Nilsson’s book as a tool to show clients the development and the humanity of the pre-born child.

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Calendar May 14, 2019 14:29

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Genital Herpes and How It Spreads

Dedicated to the education and support of pregnant women and new mothers, Real Alternatives provides confidential education and guidance on gestation, parenting, and sexual health. Real Alternatives strives to help women understand the risks of various sexually transmitted diseases, including genital herpes.

A common sexually transmitted disease, or STD, genital herpes affects approximately one out of every six people in the United States. It is a viral infection caused by type 1 or 2 of the herpes simplex virus, the former of which is also a common cause of cold sores or fever blisters. These temporary growths typically develop from contact with infected saliva and are not related to sexual activity, though oral intercourse may cause genital herpes in a person whose partner has the oral form of the disease. Genital herpes may also develop from genital-to-genital contact when one partner has a genital herpes infection.

The infection stems from contact with infected skin or bodily fluids, though the infected partner does not need to have a visible sore or even a known diagnosis to spread it. It is not possible to contract genital herpes from linens, toilet seats, or other surrounding surfaces. It is also not likely that a sore covered with a condom can lead to transmission of the disease, though the infected person may have an uncovered sore that can cause cross-infection despite use of a condom.


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Calendar May 9, 2019 14:33

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Calendar May 9, 2019 14:15

Central Penn Business Journal’s Nonprofit Innovation Awards

A Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, nonprofit accredited by the Pennsylvania Association for Nonprofit Organizations, Real Alternatives provides women nationwide with comprehensive abortion alternatives and pregnancy support. In 2004, Real Alternatives became a finalist in the Central Penn Business Journal-sponsored Nonprofit Innovation Awards for its statewide Outcome Measurement Collection Process.

The Real Alternatives Outcome Measurement Collection Process, based on the United Way Outcome Model, to develop a centralized standardized measuring tool for the pregnancy support program’s service providers. The outcomes provide the Real Alternatives service providers a tool for quality improvement for client services.

The Nonprofit Innovation Awards celebrate the achievements of nonprofit organizations across the state and provide recognition for demonstrable innovations in their daily operations. Awards comprise five categories: Collaboration, Programs, Management Operations, Nonprofit Leadership Excellence, and Brand Identity/Unique Marketing Campaign. For each award period, judges select one winner for each category and at least two runners-up. The awards are announced at an annual breakfast event. Pennsylvania nonprofits eligible for a Nonprofit Innovation Award include those that meet the qualifications for status as a 501(c)(3) organization with the IRS and that implemented innovative measures prior to the current award period.

The award is exclusive to organizations based within one of eight counties within the state’s central region, which includes Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, and Lancaster.

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Calendar May 7, 2019 14:28

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Real Alternatives Achieves Successful Indiana Expansion

Real Alternatives is a nonprofit organization that leverages the support of more than 140 service providers to assist women in finding life-affirming solutions to unexpected pregnancies. Established in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in 1996, Real Alternatives has since expanded its services to Michigan and Indiana. In November 2014, Indiana became the third state to welcome Real Alternatives to its social services landscape. That month, the nonprofit pregnancy and parenting support organization partnered with the state to create and administer the Pregnancy and Parenting Support Program of Indiana, which directs women in crisis pregnancies to abortion alternatives such as counseling and mentorship programs.

At the time, Real Alternatives had served over 250,000 women at its 95 Pennsylvania centers, in addition to more than 1,700 women served at its 17 Michigan centers since 2013. Its expansion to Indiana allowed the nonprofit to deliver its life-affirming services to a host of new communities throughout Indiana. The partnership between Real Alternatives and the Indiana government began with a yearlong trial engagement, during which the state’s health department provided a $1 million contract with Real Alternatives to establish 16 pregnancy support centers. Over the course of the year, these centers served approximately 8,400 clients at nearly 17,000 visits, providing services to assist mothers both before and after giving birth.

This network continues to operate similarly to Real Alternatives programs in other states, with Real Alternatives administering the service provider payments, inspections, client advertising and education material purchases in order to provide free counseling support and resources to expectant mothers.

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Calendar May 2, 2019 14:48

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Calendar May 2, 2019 14:12

Useful Tips for Teens for Practicing Abstinence

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Via its network of 99 counselors and 22 non-profit organizations, Real Alternatives provides support to pregnant women throughout Indiana. Additionally, Real Alternatives advocates for abstinence, particularly for teenage girls, and offers the following tips on practicing abstinence:

1. Remember that sex does not equate to love and a good partner will not pressure you into any activity that you are not comfortable with. Open communication is crucial and both partners should respect each other’s beliefs.

2. Remove yourself from any situation that makes you feel uncomfortable. When saying no, don’t offer additional excuses or promises of later sexual activity. Your partner should respect your wishes.

3. Avoid alcohol and narcotics, as both can influence you to make decisions you may regret later.

4. When spending an evening with a partner, have a plan in place to occupy the entire evening so you don’t end up alone together for an extended period of time.

5. Alleviate the pressure of first dates by going out with another couple.

6. Always remember that you are in complete control of your life and decisions.

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Calendar April 30, 2019 14:27

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Real Alternatives Launches Mobile Outreach Program

Support Through Mobile Outreach

For more than 20 years, Real Alternatives has served as a vital source of hope and support to women who have become pregnant unexpectedly. Operating through a network of some 144 service centers dispersed throughout Indiana, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, Real Alternatives facilitates a variety of services, including mobile community outreach.

In February 2014, Real Alternatives helped launch a new initiative to expand the reach of its services in Philadelphia. Titled Beautiful Beginnings, the program kicked off with the nonprofit’s donation of a customized van to Archdiocesan Catholic Social Services (CSS), a Real Alternatives partner for over two decades. Thoughtfully decorated with the peaceful face of an infant, the van allows the organizations to provide mobile outreach services to new and expectant mothers throughout the Philadelphia metropolitan area.

The van operates from the Archdiocesan CSS center in Northeast Philadelphia, delivering counseling services to women struggling with crisis pregnancies. The two organizations marked the launch of the new initiative with an event held at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center, during which Bishop John J. McIntyre gave his blessing to the outreach vehicle and delivered a brief homily. In addition to providing immediate emotional support, the mobile outreach van staff is equipped to connect women with resources available throughout their communities. As described by CSS case manager Allison Kane, “This is important because we have a lot of families who need our services.”

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Calendar April 25, 2019 14:19

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Calendar April 25, 2019 14:11

Feeling Forced into Abortion?

Operating statewide programs for the Departments of Health and Human Services in Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Michigan, Real Alternatives is a nonprofit organization that provides pregnancy support services and parenting education. One of the primary missions of Real Alternatives is to educate pregnant women about abortion alternatives and their rights under the law.

Providing support the last 20 years, Real Alternatives has assisted over 300,000 women to date experiencing an unexpected pregnancy. Sometimes women feel they have no other choice than abortion. In some instances, women may be coerced into having an abortion against their will. In fact, 14 percent of women served by Real Alternatives report being pressured by others to abort their baby. Forcing a woman to have an abortion is against the law in every state. Doctors may not perform an abortion without patient consent. Real Alternatives advises women not to sign any documents in which they agree to an abortion.

The organization also advises women to inform every health care professional they encounter that they do not want an abortion and will report the health care professional if they do an abortion on them. The professionals at Real Alternatives believe that no matter what the situation is, there are options and support.. For more information, contact Real Alternatives at 1-888-LIFE-AID any time of the day or night.

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Real Alternatives Image: realalternatives.org

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Calendar April 23, 2019 14:22

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Tips for Supporting Your Partner During Pregnancy

Supporting Your Partner Diring Pregnancy
Through 144 centers in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Indiana, Real Alternatives provides compassionate, nondiscriminatory support and services to pregnant women and new parents. In addition to helping women through pregnancy, Real Alternatives operates a nonjudgmental hotline service (1-888-LIFE-AID) to help expecting fathers through the process. Upon learning that they're going to be fathers, many men may feel anxious, shocked, and afraid. Reaching out and discussing their feelings is important, as is finding ways to show their expecting partners that they care. The qualified counselors on the Real Alternatives hotline can help soon-to-be-fathers accurately express their emotions with their partners and provide guidelines to ensure that the new mothers’ needs are met throughout the pregnancy. This will require patience and understanding, and new mothers will feel more confident knowing that their partners are going through the process with them. For additional guidelines, visit realalternatives.org. Real Alternatives also offers a Spanish-language website, https://www.realalternatives.org/es/home-es/.

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Calendar April 18, 2019 14:20

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Calendar April 18, 2019 14:09

Indiana Contracts with Real Alternatives after Two Other States

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Real Alternatives

In 2015, Governor Mike Pence set aside $3.5 million in funding for a statewide pregnancy and parenting support program administered by Real Alternatives, a pro-life nonprofit headquartered in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The new funding followed a year after the state began working with the organization on a $1 million pilot program. Real Alternatives works to offer non-judgmental counseling for pregnant women in crisis and provides access to not only education on alternatives to abortion, but also ongoing child care and parenting training, as well as needed supplies such as food, furnishings, and clothing.

The Indiana program, like its predecessors in Pennsylvania and Michigan, continues its focus on long-term healthy lives for women and their babies through its multi-pronged assistance. In Indiana, the total number of induced abortions provided in 2014 was more than 8,000. Unfortunately, the state’s rate of infant mortality is among the highest in the country.

The new program aims to effect further downward trends in these statistics, as it works through 22 centers in communities across the state. The results thus far are very promising. In FY 15-16, 8,366 Indiana program clients received proper prenatal care during their pregnancy saving Indiana taxpayers $173,736,722.00 in medical costs. Also iIn FY 15-16, 428 Indiana program clients children’s immunizations were up-to-date saving Indiana taxpayers $6,193,238.00 in medical costs.

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Calendar April 16, 2019 14:21

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Real Alternatives’ Support Services for New Mothers

New Mothers
Providing human services programs spanning three states (Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Michigan), Real Alternatives leverages the power of existing provider centers to coordinate life-affirming pregnancy support services. Over the last two decades, Real Alternatives has assisted more than 300,000 women statewide in navigating the pregnancy and childbirth process.

The charitable nonprofit’s services extend to new mothers, with support that helps them to deal with the profound responsibilities associated with motherhood over the first 12 months. By calling 1-888-LIFE-AID, new mothers can access an array of services that address concerns such as caring for an infant and managing the associated expenses.

No-cost parenting classes are also available and help to build up the skills of the mother. Service providers also direct women to appropriate community resources in the areas of health care and insurance, as well as food, clothing, and even furniture. Every effort is made to keep the mother and her infant healthy. In cases where mothers have no place to stay, Real Alternatives can also provide temporary shelter for the new family.

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Calendar April 11, 2019 15:52

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Calendar April 11, 2019 14:17

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Calendar April 11, 2019 14:07

Some of the Early Symptoms of Pregnancy

As of September 2016, the Real Alternatives network of pro-life pregnancy support agencies has helped 20,000 women in Indiana since the service was launched in 2014. A nonprofit organization, Real Alternatives receives funding from the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH), which is paid back multiple times over by the taxpayer savings it generates by offering prenatal care and advice to women. Some who visit the organization’s agencies are unsure if they are actually pregnant, so keep these early symptoms in mind as potential indicators that you need to visit a physician.

1. The most obvious early symptom of pregnancy is late menstruation. Start looking for the other symptoms below if you have missed your period.

2. Swelling and tenderness in the breasts may start occurring as early as one week into the pregnancy. This is typified by a tingling sensation that you don’t recognize.

3. Typically, pregnant women experience a change in color of both the vagina and vulva. These are usually pink but will change as more blood starts being supplied to the fetus, adopting a purple/red hue.

4. Vaginal discharge may occur more frequently and occasionally be heavier. This is noticeable if you are familiar with your regular menstrual cycle.

5. Nausea may present as early as 1-2 weeks after a missed period. Remember though that lack of nausea does not guarantee that you are not pregnant.

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Ultrasound Technology Image: webmd.com

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Calendar April 9, 2019 14:20

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The Role of Real Alternatives’ Service Providers

Real Alternatives provides a range of services to expectant and new mothers dealing with the stresses of parenthood. To provide counseling and support to clients throughout Indiana, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, Real Alternatives partners with more than 140 nonprofit service providers.

This network of service providers includes maternity homes, pregnancy support facilities, and social service and adoption agencies, all of which provide pregnancy-related services that help people understand the alternatives to abortion and help pregnant women confront the pressures that often come with pregnancy.

To become part of the Real Alternatives network, a provider must demonstrate that it has offered its services for at least one year and must undergo a rigorous screening process that typically takes between 45 and 60 days. In the majority of cases, the service providers in the Real Alternatives network employ staff members educated to the degree level in subjects including nursing and social work.

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Calendar April 4, 2019 14:06

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Calendar April 4, 2019 14:05

Seal of Excellence-Certified Organization Real Alternatives

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Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations

With a network of nearly 150 service providers, Real Alternatives is well-equipped to fulfill the crisis pregnancy and adoption needs of its female clients. For its dedicated work, Real Alternatives has received the Seal of Excellence certification on three separate occasions – 2004, 2007, and 2013. In 2002, the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations (PANO) established its Seal of Excellence along with nearly 60 Standards for Excellence criteria that determined which organizations could earn this prestigious designation.

Those who meet these standards successfully demonstrate that they are able to fulfill all the operational, managerial, and ethical requirements of an exceptional organization. Though PANO has awarded this accreditation to nonprofits in more than 20 Pennsylvania counties, Real Alternatives was one of the first to earn it at the time of its inception.

The organization achieves this designation after a jury of peers evaluates its capabilities in such areas as accountability and integrity. After this initial recognition, Real Alternatives continued its community service for a decade and earned the Seal of Excellence twice more, making it one of the first Pennsylvania organizations to achieve this accreditation three times.

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