Alternatives Pregnancy Care Center was started by Agape Christian Church in 1982. Mike Lutz was the Director, and the walk-in test center had an annual budget of only $50,000. It was located at 723 S. Westnedge Ave. and served about 40 clients per month. In 1985, the Resource Room was added to serve the need of clothing and supplies for mothers and their babies. Alternatives became a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation in 1988 when Agape Church turned the ministry over to a board of directors, and John McCastle became the Executive Director. The ministry was given the name of Alternatives of Kalamazoo, Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC). The following year the second floor of the Westnedge center was renovated into administration offices to make more room for the growing ministry.
A second office was opened in Richland in 1991 in response to an abortion referral clinic that was also opened there. A year later, the abortion referral clinic was closed. Client numbers of the Richland office began to drop off, so the CPC office was also closed. Back in Kalamazoo, the CPC began to offer limited ultrasound services for clients.
The following years brought much growth and change. In 1993 a building at 1223 N. Westnedge was donated to the CPC and used as a maternity home and satellite test center. After this building was sold to another ministry, the maternity home was moved to 723 S. Westnedge and the administration offices and ultrasound clinic were moved to 435 Whitcomb. The clinic began to offer education and information on health and nutrition as well as referrals for ongoing health care. The client load continued to grow with an average of 300 clients per month. The annual budget exceeded $200,000. Satellite offices were opened in Paw Paw and on the campus of Western Michigan University in 1995. The maternity home was temporarily closed due to the unsuitability of the facility and the loss of the supervising couple. Through a generous donation, CPC was able to purchase the building at 435 Whitcomb.
In 1996, Jack Hoogendyk became the new Executive Director, replacing John McCastle. The walk-in test center at Whitcomb was renovated so that the administration offices could move upstairs allowing for more clinic space. A new ultrasound machine was purchased and ultrasound services were offered more extensively. Freedom Ministries, a post-abortion Bible Study for women, began in 1997. A new site was found for a maternity home with plans to build and open the following year. In 1998 the three centers (Paw Paw, WMU and Whitcomb) saw over 3,000 clients.
The ultrasound ministry was expanded again in 1998 with a mobile machine that traveled to all three locations offering free ultrasound exams on a weekly basis. In 1999, Hannah’s House maternity home opened on Riverview Drive in Cooper Township. Don and Marcia Visker were named as the house parents. The Hannah’s House home provided physical, emotional, and spiritual nurturing for up to 5 pregnant women at a time. HIV screening for women was started at the campus and main offices.
In 2000, Alternatives prepared to purchase a building across the street from Planned Parenthood on W. Michigan Ave. to use as an expanded walk-in and outreach center as well as new administrative offices. The main building on Whitcomb was put up for sale. The following year, a second parcel of land was purchased across from Planned Parenthood and plans began for construction of a new ministry center.
Construction began on a 10,000 square foot ministry center in 2002, with plans to include a doctor’s office, adoption center, and professional counseling as well as abuse and family counseling. The following year, Jack Hoogendyk left the organization for the 61st district seat in the State House and Bill Kiewiet was appointed as Acting Executive Director. Bill Kiewiet was named Executive Director on January 21. On May 16, 2003 the center was granted occupancy from the City of Kalamazoo and on May 21 the new center opened as: Alternatives Women’s Care Center. The first client was welcomed and helped by office manager Bonnie Gilson and accepted the gospel message. Education was expanded to include life skill and parenting classes.
Don and Marcia Visker sensed a call out of this ministry and moved out of Hannah’s House on January 24, 2004. Bill and Jessica Cox moved in the same weekend as the house parents. Ashley Oetman moved in the basement apartment as weekend support staff. In 2005, Jen Grantham moved into Hannah’s House to coordinate the day program and Tom and Tina Titus moved in as the house parents. The upper level of Alternatives WCC was finished and was named the West Michigan Business Center. There were three tenants in the upper level by the end of the year. In 2006, Laura Bullis also left the ministry after more than 15 years of service and Cathy Stoner took on the responsibility of Operations Manager. In 2007, the West Michigan Business Center was full for the first time. The ministry was encouraged by Focus on the Family and the National Institute for life to go medical in the advising room.
In March of 2008, we welcomed new Hannah’s House parents Duane and Jackie Vedders to the maternity home. Our Executive Director, Bill Kiewiet took an Associate Pastorate with Oakwood Bible Church. His final day at the Center was June 27. The decision was made by the Board of Directors to close our Paw Paw site, in order to focus all of our energy on heightening the medical aspects of the ministry in Kalamazoo. In September, we prepared for the closing, held a sale at the Paw Paw site and sold almost everything! Jennifer Grantham left the ministry as Social Services Coordinator after the birth of her second child, and was replaced by Devon Borchak and Starr Bull.
January 2009 ushered in a new era of leadership. After 6 months of working without an Executive Director, the staff welcomed David Bos to the team as their new Executive Director. Cathy Stoner was officially named Operations Manager, and the work continues!