Inspirational speaker to share her story at upcoming banquet

A police officer in Cleveland, Tenn., for the last 17 years, Evie Lastra West willingly shares her story with others about the challenging life she once lived.

Currently a sergeant over her city’s Community Relations Unit, West grew up in Orange County, Calif., and as a teen was initiated into a gang. She also became a teen mom at age 16, and then at age 19 intended to terminate a second unborn child.

Ultimately, West opted to give her second child up for adoption, relocate to Tennessee and enroll in college. This inspiring overcomer will be in Alpena on Sept. 28 to share her story as the keynote speaker for the Options Pregnancy Center’s second annual Night of Light Celebration Banquet.

“It’s empowering for her to speak to others,” said Emily Potter, director for Options Pregnancy Center, a faith-based, non-profit organization. “It was a center like ours where she decided to put her son up for adoption. She was planning on abortion, then she came to the center, had an ultra sound done and talked with a counselor.”

Potter said that West is also sensitive to those who choose abortion as an option. It’s the same sensitivity that clients at Alpena’s center will find, she said.

“We try to create a non-judgmental environment at our center,” Potter said. “People from all walks of life have already come in – people who don’t have traditional support systems and need someone who can step in and provide that support and knowledge that there is always hope, no matter what their choice.”

The center currently provides support, referrals to other service agencies, various classes and a 24-hour hotline in a four-county area that includes Alpena, Alcona, Montmorency and Presque Isle counties.

Potter has served as director since October 2015 and as such, oversaw a move earlier this year to a new location at 526 W. Chisholm, across from the Dairy Queen. With the new space, the center hopes to continue expanding its services and reach.

“We are a welcoming, faith-based, non-profit that’s free to anyone regardless of choices people make or will make,” she said. “We are here to offer resources and comprehensive support to make sure that our clients are valued and supported.”

The Sept. 28 celebration dinner is being held as a fundraiser so that services can continue to be offered and expanded. The evening will include a silent auction with a variety of donated items, a dinner catered by As You Wish and the talk by West, who recently published a book called “Revolving Choices: Playing Roulette With Life.”

The book recaps West’s life and the consequences of her choices. It shares her story of being a young, Hispanic girl desperately searching for her identity, and how her life was drastically changed through a decision to follow Jesus Christ.

West is married to Brandon West, and they have two children, Josh, age 23, and Brooklyn, age 20. In March of this year, her 20-year long prayer was answered when she reunited with her second child, Joel. He lives in Ohio and is a sophomore at Miami University.

The Night of Light event is from 6:30-9 p.m. at the Fletcher Street Depot. Dinner tickets are $30 per person or $55 per couple. The tickets may be purchased only at Olivet Book and Gift in downtown Alpena.

For more information about the upcoming dinner or Options Pregnancy Center, call 354-6089.