It is so much more than a “place”. If you’ve been to Alpha, you know this already. You’re likely picturing a bright colorful space filled with tiny outfits that make you say “Awww”. It’s shelves are labeled with words such as “Newborn”, “6-9 Months”, or “Maternity”. The walls are lined with shelves full of Similac, Pampers, and baby food jars. Look a little further and you’ll see strollers, cribs and other items which make parenting a little easier. And you likely know that these items are free to those involved in our Earn While You Learn program.
But do you know why it’s called Karen’s Place? Meet Suzanne. With her permission, we’re sharing with you a little part of her story.
In 1965, at the age of 18, Suzanne found out she was expecting a baby. Her husband, Butch, went into the Air Force, which sent them moving several times. They were able to come home to Hopkinsville for a short time when baby Karen was 8 months old. Here she was embraced by her loving family. Suzanne remembers that her “dad just loved her and would walk around the house holding her all day” if they let him.
Thirteen months after her daughter Karen was born, Suzanne had another baby. She learned quickly the challenges of raising young children and the value of people who provide support.
Butch was sent to Thailand for one year, so Suzanne and the children stayed in Hopkinsville. Suzanne worked at her parents’ store called Cassady’s Kiddie Korner, where children’s clothing was sold. Eventually, Butch and Suzanne were able to move back permanently, and Suzanne continued to work there. She recalls that Karen loved playing and helping at the store.
One day, Karen’s piano teacher noticed that Karen was having trouble moving two of her fingers. Her symptoms progressively worsened, and Karen was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Despite treatments, the tumor ultimately took Karen’s life.
Karen’s life on Earth ended, but Suzanne’s family has faith in God and know that they will see her again in a place where there will be no more pain, sorrow, and no more death.
Suzanne had been praying for Alpha for quite some time. She recognized the value of such a place for helping people with unplanned pregnancy such as the one she had faced years ago with Karen. In 1999, she decided to get involved. That’s when Suzanne began organizing a space where mothers could receive practical help they would need to raise a baby. What a beautiful way to honor her daughter by supporting those with their own daughters and sons.
And it has only grown since. The resource center has occupied four different spaces, moving with Alpha each time Alpha has moved. It was named “Karen’s Place” when it was moved into a small house across from Alpha on Main Street (our last location). People from Hopkinsville and surrounding communities continue to stock and bless Karen’s Place. Many people (myself included) discover the services at Alpha when they search for a place to donate baby items.
Karen’s Place is the product of caring people who donate items, selfless people who give their time to fold and sort, and faithful prayer partners who pray blessings over the families who receive.
Karen’s Place is a beautiful picture of life’s sweet beginnings. Each of us has a beginning, although we never know how long our life on Earth will be. Each life has value, and should be treated in a way that reflects that value.
May we never forget the beginning of Karen’s Place and the life it honors. May we all learn to create beauty and blessings out of life’s heartaches. Thank you, Suzanne, for your willingness to create this place that blesses so many people.
Kristin Dossett, ARNP
Alpha Pregnancy Care Center