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Affinities: The Compassionate Ones

Our pictorial study of uniquely Bay Area tribes.

SLIDESHOW

Sara Spriggs

(1 of 10)

Pamela Radgowski

(2 of 10)

Florence Chien

(3 of 10)

Alicia Harris

(4 of 10)

Gabriela Castillo

(5 of 10)

Sherry Ezhuthachan

(6 of 10)

Barby Zeldovich

(7 of 10)

Patte McDowell and Kearney Coghlan

(8 of 10)

Tatiana Kouzmina

(9 of 10)

Ireri Iora

(10 of 10)

 

See all the Affinities photo shoots here.

Two nights a month, Sara Spriggs offers her couch to a stranger who has just had an abortion. Sometimes she gives the woman a ride to and from the clinic; other times she lends her money for gas or BART fare. “It can be awkward—the people I meet are usually feeling really vulnerable,” she says. “But I just try to make it as normal and comfortable as possible.” Spriggs, 31, is among the 175 volunteers of the Practical Support Network at Access, a nonprofit center in Oakland dedicated to reproductive justice. The members, who range in age from 18 to 80, sign up to offer small kindnesses to women facing an emotional ordeal: a ride to an abortion clinic, a place to stay, a short-term babysitter, or help translating insurance forms. “For some volunteers it’s political; for others it’s personal,” says Spriggs, who has been part of the network for three years. “I just want everyone to have the ability to shape their own life, whatever that looks like.” The network currently assists between 500 and 600 women a year, most of whom seek help through Access’s toll-free hotline (800-376-4636 for English; 888-442-2237 for Spanish). “It seems like a small thing: half an hour in the car and some small talk,” says Spriggs. “But the effect can be really profound.”

 

Originally published in the December issue of San Francisco

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