Festival raises money for pregnancy center

Informed Choices staff members (from left) Kathleen Shaffer, center administrator; Lisa Monte RN; Debbie Whittaker, nurse manager; and Christine Vatuone, executive director, helped organize the festival to raise funds for ultrasounds and other medical car

When a woman is faced with an unplanned pregnancy, she experiences a gamut of emotions ranging from excitement to fear and regret. Her support system may be fractured or non-existent, and it’s often up to her, and her alone, to determine if she wants to carry the baby to term, give it up for adoption or terminate the pregnancy.
Newly pregnant women may not know where to turn, and that’s where Gilroy’s Informed Choices plays a vital role in helping mothers-to-be decide the best course of action for their pregnancies. Since opening its doors at 66 First Street in 2014, the center, which was formerly the South Valley Pregnancy Care Center, has helped hundreds of women through counseling and support. But services are limited.
Although Informed Choices helps women navigate an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy, the center is unable to provide ultrasounds and other medical care to its clients, which is why it launched the Life Choice Project to obtain a state license to become a primary care clinic.
The project also involves raising funds to send the center’s two nurses through ultrasound training, which will allow them to properly use the ultrasound machine recently donated by Dr. Francis Sacco and his wife, Jeanine. Other funds will be allocated to facility improvements and purchasing medical supplies needed to provide medical services.
To kick off its fundraising efforts, Informed Choices is hosting the Art and Music Festival in Support of Life on Sept. 26.
“This event was basically designed for our fall fundraising efforts because I know a lot of very creative wonderful people, photographers and artists and musicians who have said that they would like to use their talents for Informed Choices,” CEO and Executive Director Christine Vatuone said. “Then, I had a donor who offered her home and food for the event.”
The festival will be a “relaxed, low-key event” that people can go to and enjoy wine donated by local wineries, silent auctions, raffles and live music, according to Vatuone.
“In the process of enjoying the evening, guests can support women and uphold life,” she said.
Vatuone calls the fundraiser, which she hopes will turn into an annual event, a community effort. Local artists such as Sacco, Shirley Hixson, Margo Garces, Jeanette Benedict and Becky Parker have donated paintings to the auction. Photographs from Martin Spilker, Whittaker Portraits, McElvy Studios, Skow’s the Limit Photography, Jewels and Joy Photography and Pat Skow will also be up for auction along with handmade items like quilts and scarves. Raffle baskets will include donations from Anytime Fitness, Crossroads Back and Neck Care Center, YoghArt, Eagle Ridge Golf Course and The Tech Museum, among others. South Valley Community Church has donated a Mamaroo Bouncer.
Music will be performed by local musicians including guitar players and vocalists Connor, Brian Benedict and Adolfo Tellez, Jr., vocalists Greg and Kim Quirke, worship musicians Max and Zack Monte, saxophonist Lisa Baratta and violinist John Krauss.
“This really is about the community,” Vatuone said. “We’re here to support women however they may need throughout their pregnancy and the first year of their baby’s life. We don’t charge ever for our services.”


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