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Recently, I had the privilege of shadowing Ms. Renée Rizzo, President and CEO of Hope Clinic for Women, for my high school’s Career Shadow Day. Before I had even heard of Hope Clinic, I had this image in my mind about the stereotypical crisis pregnancy clinics. I had pictured a group of prolife activists waiting outside the doors of the clinic with their judgmental glares and picket signs. I pictured the average waiting room with the metal chairs and the walls lined with magazine racks with the end tables littered with pamphlets. I also pictured the clinics that offered help to women, but never thought about how or even if they helped men and the families of the young women.

However, after my dad recommended shadowing Ms. Rizzo at Hope Clinic and I took a look at their website, the image in my mind began to change. By the time I set foot inside the building the stereotypical crisis pregnancy clinic I imagined had completely evaporated. The first thing I noticed was the smell: autumn-scented candles. To my right was what looked like could be someone’s living room but was in fact the waiting room. I immediately felt right at home. The Hope Clinic created a welcoming environment that could easily calm the nerves of anyone who walked right through the front doors and met Desirée, the receptionist. As the first face young women, men, and families see when they first arrive, Desirée knows how to give the patients the reassurance they needed that they made the right decision by coming o Hope Clinic. I then met Renée, the woman who leads this group of people who reaches out to these families and offers them help. She gave me a tour of the building and I saw what set Hope Clinic apart from any other crisis pregnancy clinic.

Hope Clinic offers counseling for not only those in an unplanned pregnancy who are stilling consideration an abortion, parenting or adoption, but also for post-partum depression, those dealing with miscarriages and other forms of pregnancy loss, and family counseling. They have nurse practitioners onsite, counselors for young men and parents who are seeking help, and those who give guidance regarding prevention plans. I realized by the end of the day, that while I may not have needed the services Hope Clinic for Women has to offer, there are too many 18-year-old high school students out there like me who don’t know about the option that is Hope Clinic. I used to think that if I ever got pregnant in high school, my options would be abortion, adoption, or drop out and raise my son or daughter, and I used to think that I would only have my family to rely on. I always thought about the consequences too, never the possible solutions there were beyond my family and friends. Until now, I never realized the existence of a clinic that could provide support and guidance for not only me, but for the father and my family. I never realized there was hope.

We need to continue getting the word out about this beacon of hope Renée Rizzo and her team provides because while they may not need it now, there may come a time in the future when a friend, family member, or they may need to meet Renée. I’m not saying that when the time comes you won’t have anything to worry about anymore, but if that day comes, you won’t be alone. There really is hope at Hope Clinic for Women.

Jesse Pyle, student at Brentwood High School