On Friday, March 21, 350 admirers filled the Patrons Hall of San Francisco’s St. Mary’s Cathedral in support of one of only two crisis pregnancy centers in the City. The event was a fundraiser for Alpha Pregnancy Center, located in Mission Terrace. For those unfamiliar with San Francisco, that is not one of the neighborhoods President Obama visits during his frequent fundraising trips. Attendees included Father John Jimenez, who recently celebrated Mass in front of San Francisco’s Planned Parenthood to kick off this year’s 40 Days for Life; a number of 40 Days volunteers; and many veterans of the pro-life cause, including the beloved and elderly Bea Smalley, one of San Francisco’s first pro-life activists.

Servers and ushers at the event were from the youth group at Dolores Park Church, led by Jon Brackett, the church’s youth minister. Brackett, who gave the event’s invocation, told CalCatholic that his youth group has sort of “adopted” Alpha: in addition to serving the fundraiser, the young people annually join in Alpha’s Walk for Life, some volunteer at the center, and about twice a year the group goes down to the center to help with things like major cleaning or painting.

Alpha Pregnancy Center began in 1983. A group of pastors were meeting to pray about the large number of abortions in San Francisco. Alpha Pregnancy’s “Beginnings” page says “As they prayed together the Lord convicted them to offer His helping hand, love, and compassion to women faced with an unplanned pregnancy. They started the Crisis Pregnancy in the basement of the First Orthodox Presbyterian Church in the Sunset District of San Francisco.” That Christ-centeredness, absolute faith and surrender to the will of the Lord, is a hallmark of Alpha to this day. In 2002, Alpha moved to Mission Terrace, because as they write “they realized there might be a larger need in different neighborhoods.”

As Alpha grew it wanted to more fully meet the needs of their families: “We began offering complete case management, more thorough education, and an extensive list of free supplies when we moved to our Mission Street office in 2002. In 2006, at the request of our clients, we began offering Post-Abortion recovery groups as well.” They now see an average of 20 women a day, and last November, added free ultrasounds to their lists of services. Every single woman who has used the ultrasound has chosen life.

During dinner, a video of a recent client was shown: Maricris and her son Tristan. Maricris described the wild life she was living with her boyfriend in the Tenderloin, and her surprise at becoming pregnant—surprise because it hadn’t happened sooner! Initially deciding to abort the child, she described her visit to Planned Parenthood, and their encounter with sidewalk counselors, who directed them to Alpha. At Alpha they were met with love, offers of help with food, with diapers, with housing. She and Tristan were the recipient of Alpha’s first sonogram—where the tech was able to tell her the child was a boy—something Planned Parenthood had been unable or unwilling to do. Finally, her decision of hope: to keep her baby. The change in Maricris herself was wonderful: she said “I went from living a fast life…now I’m home. I can’t believe it. I’m amazed. I’m overjoyed!”

The final speaker was Alpha’s executive director Chastidy Ronan, the story of whose personal trials, overcome by trust in Jesus, cannot be summarized here. She eventually found and married a good man, and in 2006 they decided to move to San Francisco, where a job was waiting for both of them—or so they thought. In 2006 Chastidy found herself out of work and facing an unplanned pregnancy. She was gripped with fear, and thought every day how much easier it would be to abort the child. She recalled going through the aisles of baby supplies at Target and crying because everything was so expensive. She went to Alpha for help—and she received it. In 2008 she began working as a counselor at Alpha, and within a year become the executive director. She said:

“I feel I was set in this place and in this time and in this season to do what God wants me to do. Like in Nehemiah we must restore our city to a place where God’s people understand the value of life. In this city there are 7 abortion clinics and only two pro-life clinics. Every year in San Francisco there are 16,000 births, but there are 18,000 abortions. When my mother was beaten to death, I learned that the neighbors had heard screams but had not wanted to get involved. I vowed then that I will never ignore the cries of those who need help. We are called to seek the welfare of this city, of our wonderful city. We will not ignore the cry of the 18,000 killed every year and we invite you to join us!”

To help or learn more about Alpha Pregnancy Center, visit: www.alphapc.org