In January 1973, abortion on demand became legal in the United States, and the death of millions of pre-born children followed. Many found this appalling and realized that more than ever, support must be made available for women facing difficult and unexpected pregnancies.
One who acted decisively was Thomas W. Bresler (photo above), a recently ordained Deacon at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Deerfield, Illinois. He accepted this challenge as his mission and in 1977, he attracted a small group who met in his living room, a group eager to join in an effort to do “something” to defend the lives of these children and support the women considering abortion. On October 6, 1978, Deacon Bresler along with Penny Crowley, Mary Kraychy and Mona Lukas opened Aid for Women, a pregnancy help center in suburban Deerfield, Illinois, to serve the needs of women in the area and offer alternatives to abortion.
In July 1981, a second office was opened at 8 South Michigan Avenue in Chicago’s downtown Loop to counteract the number of abortion facilities opening throughout the city. In March 2010, Aid for Women and WomanCare Services, another pregnancy resource center located in Chicago’s southwest suburbs, united to better serve women in the Chicago area. With the opening of Heather’s House in August 2011, Aid for Women began was able to provide crisis pregnancy services to women in the northwest suburbs. In the summer of 2013, Aid for Women also began offering services at the St. Aloysisus’ Monsignor Thiele Center in Chicago’s Wicker Park/Humboldt Park neighborhood and at the Port Free Clinic in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood. Today with a total of five locations, Aid for Women continues to reach out to thousands of women in under-served communities who are facing unexpected pregnancies and are in need of our services.
Many Aid for Women clients consider abortion because they lack adequate housing or will be otherwise homeless if they choose life. Certain that God was calling Aid for Women to do more to help pregnant women, Heather’s House, named in honor of Heather Bresler, wife of founder Deacon Thomas Bresler, was established in the spring of 2011 on the Maryville Academy campus in Des Plaines, Illinois. Heather’s House provides a safe and nurturing home where pregnant women and their children can live. Monica’s House, named in honor of Saint Monica, was established in the spring of 2015 at St. Pascal Church in Chicago’s Portage Park neighborhood. Monica’s House serves as a transitional home for Heather’s House residents who have had their babies and are either going to school or working. Monica’s House provides these new mothers more independence, while they work toward completing their goals. See Residential Programs
Aid for Women is blessed to have Bishop Francis Kane, Monsignor Michael Boland and Bishop Thomas Paprocki serving on our Board of Directors and Advisors. Aid for Women is an affiliate of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago, a preferred provider of the Office of Human Dignity and Solidarity and the only Chicago-area pregnancy help center listed in The Official Catholic (Kenedy) Directory. Aid for Women is an affiliate of Heartbeat International, the first and most expansive pro-life pregnancy help network in the world.
Our history would not be complete without noting the many individuals who have unselfishly offered their time, talents and treasures for the past thirty-nine years to support and sustain Aid for Women’s mission of serving God by promoting and defending life. We are deeply grateful to our pregnancy center and residential program staff and volunteers, Vitae Corps members, Board members, Auxiliary members, Junior Board members, event volunteers and the thousands of individuals who have given their financial support.