Chris Reyes has a long history of life-affirming work, starting 30 years ago when she and her new husband, Raul, read “Whatever Happened to the Human Race?” by Francis Schaeffer and C. Everett Koop. That book opened their eyes to what was going on the world with sanctity-of-life issues including abortion.
“That was the beginning of a journey we didn’t know we were on,” said Reyes, who was recently named as director of the Alpha Women’s Center, located at 1725 S. Division Ave. in Grand Rapids. “The Lord awakened a passion in us.”
The couple soon became part of the founding board of a pregnancy center in St. Petersburg, Fla., which opened two years later. Raul Reyes became president of the organization, with Chris Reyes volunteering for a decade and eventually accepting employment there for three years.
The Reyes family then moved to Grand Rapids for three years before moving to Colorado Springs when Raul Reyes took a job as an assistant to Dr. James Dobson at Focus on the Family. Chris became director of the Colorado Springs Pregnancy Center, now known as Life Network, which had 30 employees and a budget of $1.4 million. They stayed for 12 years.
“We moved back to Grand Rapids when my husband began working for LIFE International, but I wasn’t sure what the Lord had for me,” said Chris Reyes. “I knew there were several life-giving organization here.”
Reyes eventually connected with Alpha Women’s Center, where her skills and experience were put to use as its new director.
“I’m really excited about what the Lord has here,” she said. “This is an incredible ministry, an incredible facility, and we’re in a high-need, high-impact area. “Just last week we saw eight life-affirming decisions.”
Alpha Women’s Center offers pregnancy counseling, parenting education, GED prep classes, ESL programs, post-abortion counseling, and the Alpha Shoppe that offers diapers, maternity and baby clothing, formula, and other supplies. Women who attend mentoring sessions earn points that can be redeemed at the Alpha Shoppe.
“Sometimes women walk out of Alpha not making a life-affirming decision, but we know we did what we could,” said Reyes. “Does a women need housing, food, education? We ask what their needs are, then figure out how we can connect the dots to give them what they need.”
Reyes is thrilled to be working in Grand Rapids, what she calls “a fabulous community for ministries.” There is a heart for people in need here, and the church is strong, which means strong volunteers bringing time and resources to organization such as Alpha Women’s Center.
“My goal is to get out and meet as many people as I can over the next months to build those relationships,” said Reyes “I want to build relationships with churches that can come alongside these women and families. This is a mission field for us, a vehicle to share Christ. ”
She credits the great foundation built here, and is excited about that the future holds. She’d like to increase the Alpha staff, increase the budget “so we have room to breathe and can make a couple of strategic hires,” and help even more young women. In the past 12 months, 3,200 women have come through Alpha’s doors; Reyes would like to help even more. She’d also like to recruit more Spanish-speaking volunteers and start a program for young dads.
“I want to be out there speaking, talking to groups and recruiting volunteers,” said Reyes. “I’ve got an incredible staff that do the day-to-day work. My role is sharing our work with businesses, women’s groups, churches and others to talk about how they can get involved. We have a tight, small budget but we are doing a mighty work one by one by one.”
Chris and Raul Reyes have five children ages 20 to 29, and five grandchildren.
Alpha Women’s Center of Grand Rapids
Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday: 9 am-5 pm
Tuesday: 9 am-8 pm
Friday: 9 am-2 pm