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Like these? Check out videos from past Pregnancy Help Appreciation Weeks. You are loved. And the work you do, admired.
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by Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., Heartbeat International Chairman of the Board
We can all take heart from the findings of the latest report on the amazing work of pregnancy help centers, clinics, and maternity homes across the USA, A Half Century of Hope, A Legacy of Life & Love: Pregnancy Center Service Report, Third Edition, which notes that pregnancy help centers trace their beginnings to 1968, 50 years ago.
Having discovered our local Birthright in 1973 and Heartbeat International in 1978, I have been an eyewitness to the growth of this movement for 45 years. What a privilege to experience what God is doing through ordinary people who can accomplish the extraordinary when He is calling and equipping.
I want to reflect briefly on three things this report highlights.
First of all, the heroism of the mothers who are choosing life over abortion, despite the incessant marketing and promotion of abortion in American culture and organized attempts to stifle the voices for life, especially in pregnancy help centers.
We do not save babies – mothers do, once they have the love, support, care, knowledge, and new vision they need to overcome the pressures leading them toward abortion. We are woman-centered, and women are choosing life over abortion at higher rates than ever since 1973.
As the pregnancy center report shows, the abortion rate in this country in 2014 (the latest year for which numbers are available) has gone down to 14.6 abortions per 1,000 women from a high of 29.3 eight years after the Roe v. Wade decision (according to Guttmacher Institute).
Additional research underway now is looking at the hypothesis that even more than state laws, clinic closures, or political changes the major factor in this decline in the abortion ratio could well be the work of pregnancy help organizations! We will not rest from our labors until every woman who needs help can find it at her local life-affirming pregnancy help organization.
Just one more reason our Life Launch Grant to help start pregnancy centers in areas primed for more life-saving outreach is such an important recent initiative.
Second, the Footsoldiers Armed with LOVE – those working in pregnancy help organizations, and their supporters, throughout the USA (and the world) who provide the love, support, and help so women can choose life for their babies.
From the handful of volunteers that started, supported, and worked in each of the original pregnancy help centers (there were about 100 locations in 1971 when Heartbeat published our first Worldwide Directory), God has raised a mighty army!
In 2017, in 2,600 pregnancy help locations, there were 67,400 volunteers, along with a much smaller number of dedicated staff members, who served 2 Million people!
The tools available for this army have multiplied in the last 50 years, as the pregnancy center report illustrates. Centers are utilizing valuable tools that are becoming more and more available and prevalent. Just look at how many centers are expanding their services: 70% offer ultrasounds, 41% provide sexual integrity and sexual risk avoidance education with evidence-based curricula and materials, 97% offer material aid, 87% provide prenatal and parenting support and education, and 75% host after abortion support and healing programs.
Life affirming crisis intervention, prevention services (sexual integrity), support, and after abortion healing ALL save lives. Each provides, at some point in a woman’s life, a life-affirming vision, a hope, and perhaps some practical help, so some women will never be faced with a difficult pregnancy, and those who are know that abortion is NOT their only alternative.
To me, this continues to prove that the best alternative to abortion is another person – armed with the love of Christ, offering women a new vision of hope and life.
My third thought – my passion for the vision and mission of Heartbeat – the network of centers, clinics, and housing ministries that make up Heartbeat International, plus the programs and services of “Heartbeat Central” (our headquarters).
Heartbeat International was founded in 1971 by a diverse group of the original pregnancy help organizations (from California, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, and other states). Inspired by the Holy Spirit, these centers were starting up all over the USA because of the push to de-criminalize abortion state by state. The founders knew that, once abortion became legal, women would need help and support to withstand the pressure for abortion.
These centers were diverse, influenced by local needs and the vision of their founders – entrepreneurial and creative. And they still are!
There never was one Heartbeat model – there were MANY models. And there still are, as the pregnancy center services report makes clear! It highlights the continuing diversity and creativity, the local, personal, and God-led nature of pregnancy help, while it is, at the same time, professional and sophisticated in the most positive senses of those words.
Heartbeat Central – your team at the Heartbeat headquarters – also remains entrepreneurial and creative plus professional and sophisticated as we lead and equip this dynamic movement. Starting like most pregnancy centers do, as “all volunteer” in 1971, we now have over 50 dedicated staff members with diverse expertise.
Let me highlight just 3 areas, mentioned in the pregnancy center services report, where Heartbeat International is advancing the pregnancy help movement, areas that I am personally passionate about.
Reaching women, particularly minorities who are targets of abortionists. Heartbeat’s original 1971 vision for a toll free number (called a Watts Line in ancient times!) is now our Option Line, answering more than 1,000 calls for help EVERY DAY and sending these people to the amazing network of local pregnancy help.
We know that women search for help primarily online, and Option Line is the only web-based helpline – “answering the call” via text, email, live chat, and phones. As the pregnancy center services report notes, Planned Parenthood and other abortionists target minority and immigrant women for abortions. Option Line is staffed by loving and caring bilingual consultants, fluent in English and Spanish, 24/7, 365 days per year.
In the not too distant future, the number of calls for help answered by Option Line yearly in the USA will surpass the number of abortions!
Rescuing women and their children from the Abortion Pill. With perhaps 1/3 of abortions now done by the “abortion pill,” according to the pregnancy center services report, Heartbeat is countering with our APR network – Abortion Pill Rescue. Option Line is answering calls from women who change their minds after taking the first pill of the two-pill chemical abortion process.
These women are desperately seeking help. Heartbeat is growing the present network of over 450 physicians who use the APR protocol to save babies (over 500 born so far!) and the centers that refer to this network in an effort to help even more women save their babies and themselves from the effects of abortion.
Renewing training and service efforts with the latest technology. From a handful of training pamphlets that we could provide by snail mail in the 70’s – the first and only training materials available to all centers – Heartbeat International now uses the latest distance-learning technology in our online Academy to provide APR training as well as over 200 different courses and webinars, any place and any time to more than 4,300 registered students in the pregnancy help movement.
To advance the medical emphasis in pregnancy centers, as noted in the pregnancy center services report, our Academy provides CEU’s for nurses and even a full ultrasound training course online. For staff and for volunteers, still the heart of the movement, we also provide a Life-Affirming Specialist (LAS) certification to help keep up crucial skills and learn best practices. LAS continuing education credits can be earned online through our advanced online class ConCERT, online webinars, or in-person training opportunities such as the Heartbeat International Annual Conference.
In fact, almost the only technology employed by Heartbeat’s first pregnancy help affiliates in the 70’s – and by Heartbeat International too – was the telephone (even pregnancy tests had to be done by cooperating doctor’s offices)! Now, Heartbeat leads with a variety of technology training and solutions for centers – from Option Line (to schedule appointments within cooperating centers), to website design and local search marketing from Extend Web Services, to a complete center management system, Next Level.
All of this, Heartbeat makes available to serve the broader pregnancy help movement, not just to our affiliated network.
We see Lord’s hand here – in the way He has provided the vision and resources for us at Heartbeat to serve the pregnancy help movement over these many decades – and in the amazing success story of pregnancy help in the USA, so well documented in A Half Century of Hope, A Legacy of Life & Love: Pregnancy Center Service Report, Third Edition.
THANK YOU – to all of YOU whom God has called to be part of this story, and Praise be to God – from whom all these blessings flow! Let us all Take Heart.
Join Heartbeat International in celebrating National Nurses Week May 6-12. We rejoice for each of you who lead the charge in medical care in each of our affiliate centers!
We certainly have plenty of reasons to celebrate the amazing nurses in pregnancy help organizations who serve with compassion and expertise, inspiring client and patient trust. Every day we are confronted with life and death. Yet babies are saved because of the compassion, expertise, and prayer we offer our clients. We inspire clients with the confidence and hope they need to carry their babies to term. We innovate new ideas and methods to best help them. And we empower our clients as they make healthy decisions for their relationships and pregnancies and then eventually in their strong parenting choices. It's these things that lead to amazing little everyday miracles, like precious healthy babies being born into the loving arms of their healthy mothers, sometimes even after an abortion has been stopped in its tracks.
I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak…Ezekiel 34:16
We hope you know, we are always praying for you, and if you have any specific prayer requests or praise reports, feel free to share them any time by clicking the button below!
Anyone who has labored in a ministry for any length of time knows that there can be struggles. Our work can be an odd endeavor. Sometimes our efforts do not produce immediate and “concrete” results that show our work was beneficial and effectual. Sometimes our clients take three steps forward, only to then take five steps back. As we try to wait with positive expectation, sometimes disappointment can creep in.
It is critical to lean on the Lord because this is His work and His battle. Paul was an apostle, not because of his brilliance, compassion, personal skills, or preaching ability. He was an apostle because he was called. And so were you! The calling is not what we do, it’s who we are. It goes with us everywhere. Our calling is simply to be fruitful in what He has called us to. He does the rest. And His call to a ministry is an invitation to unequaled privilege. We work in the midst of miracles every single day!
For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. Hebrews 6:10
God loves the women and babies we serve with such a deep, unending love, He moves mountains for them. And that is a truth we can rest in. As we strive to do all He has called us to do, always remember, He will do more. He wants the best for each life He creates. And He fully knows all you have done and all you have carried.
Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded. 2 Chronicles 15-7
Each of us at Heartbeat International pray for you and are inspired by you. We appreciate your good works and your willingness to do God’s will each day. Thank you for being on the frontlines of care and for putting clients first no matter how grueling your day. We appreciate your kindness, dedication and healing touch. Today we honor each of you who are quite literally changing the world one heartbeat at a time.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead
There are two little words you may not hear every day. But to each of you, we proclaim a resounding, “Thank you!”
For the past 21 years, Debbie Schirtzinger has served on Heartbeat International’s staff, working directly with our life-saving affiliates as our network has grown from 250 to over 2,100. This month, Debbie is stepping away from her current role with Heartbeat as she and her husband, Dave, relocate near family out of state.
We love and appreciate Debbie and are so thankful God has placed her in our lives, and we wanted to make sure to include YOU—our partners in this life-saving work—in a celebration both of how God has used Debbie and how we know He will continue to use her in her new home.
How did you become connected with Heartbeat in the first place?
In 1995, a good friend of mine from church, Catherine Wood, had just started working for Heartbeat. I had helped her with a couple projects by doing some data entry. I wasn’t familiar with Heartbeat but the Lord used Catherine’s passion for Heartbeat’s mission, my trust in her, my computer background, and Heartbeat’s need to nudge me. I started working for Heartbeat in January, 1996.
What’s kept you here this long?
I think I’ve stayed here for pretty much the same reasons that I came. First, I’ve always felt the Lord continuing to nudge me to stay, gracious enough to continue to use me here. Now I know firsthand His favor to Heartbeat’s mission. I’ve seen the amazing people He has brought in and out of Heartbeat in the last 21 years for specific times and specific purposes coming as a result of prayer and divine appointments. Relationships and Christian friendships I’ve made as a Heartbeat team member as well as the hundreds of affiliates I’ve met and served in affiliate services has been life changing. I’ve even met some remarkable people just hired in the last few weeks that I wouldn’t have known if I’d left sooner.
What are some of the ways you’ve seen our community/movement grow and change during your time with Heartbeat?
One year Heartbeat’s annual conference theme was Better Together. That’s been true on so many levels. At the local level, it’s seeing staff and volunteers work in harmony together in their own pregnancy center, clinic, or maternity home. It’s seeing local pregnancy help organizations working in partnership with churches and individuals in a community-wide effort. Nationally, I’ve seen groups collaborate to accomplish so much together like collectively writing the Commitment of Care and Competence standards or the pro-life legal community coming alongside national groups to defend pregnancy help organizations under attack. There is also a strong willingness and desire to share with each other things we’ve learned. Through the Heartbeat Academy, Institute, and our annual conference, the community/movement continues to grow together by sharing with each other and encouraging each other.
What are some of the qualities of pregnancy help leaders that have stood out to you over the years?
Leaders may appear in a variety of capacities. It may be an executive director leading a center, a board member who takes charge of an event, a volunteer who leads an abortion recovery program, a house parent at a maternity home, or someone leading a church group to open a brand new U.S. center or a center internationally. Their desire to serve the Lord wherever and however He wants to use them and to keep learning is the heart of those who love and lead this movement.
What do most pro-lifers/Christians not know about pregnancy centers you wish they did?
I would hope they know that there’s no agenda other than a genuine love for the clients and the desire to help them and give them hope.
How has working at Heartbeat/in the pregnancy help movement affected the way you approach everyday life as a friend/wife/mom/grandma?
I’ve seen over and over in a variety of experiences, whether praying for direction for Heartbeat, co-workers praying for each other, or praying daily over the many prayer requests that come in from donors and affiliates, how much the Lord loves us. He’s very personal. When we seek His will for our life, He lovingly, patiently provides all that we need. Seeing so many answers to prayer in the pregnancy help community has grown my faith and made me more courageous.
What do you think you’ll miss most about working day-to-day for Heartbeat?
Heartbeat and the pro-life community is such a powerful community to “live” in. I’ll miss the camaraderie with Heartbeat staff and all of the affiliates I’ve met over the years. I’ll miss keeping up with affiliate news with generous donor stories, client success stories, and seeing the impact in a community when services or locations are added. I am grateful there’s Pregnancy Help News and other outlets to continue reading these incredible stories.
What are you looking forward to most about this next season in your life?
I am looking forward to a slower pace. My husband and I are moving from Columbus, where we’ve both lived our entire lives, to a rural setting and I see myself on the back porch reading and easing myself into the day. I want to be part of a community of believers in a local church, and there’s also a local Heartbeat affiliate where I can become plugged right back into the pro-life community. I do have a longtime friend rooted in our new community and we’ll also be living within 15 minutes of our daughter and her family. I’m looking forward to being more involved with them and our 4 year-old granddaughter. I’m already signed up to volunteer in her preschool twice a month, so we’ll see if the wish for a slower pace really happens.
How can Heartbeat affiliates be praying for you?
Thank you so much! Please pray that the Lord can continue to use us wherever He leads, whether that’s in our own family or in a larger sphere of influence. I have so much more to learn and to give. Please pray not only for our daughter and family, but also our son and his family as they move to South Africa, the same week we move, for two years on the mission field. I can’t thank the Lord enough for the gift He gave me 21 years ago to be part of this incredible community of love and life.
Pregnancy Help Appreciation Week was designed by Heartbeat International to honor those working within the pregnancy help movement. Through their work, women and men receive the compassionate support they need when facing a life-changing decision. They walk alongside families throughout the pregnancy and beyond, blessing them with pregnancy tests, emotional support, ultrasounds, parenting classes, and so much more at no cost.
From volunteers to executive directors, nurses to receptionists, each person working in a pregnancy help organization has been gifted with the passion to advance the culture of LIFE! And for that, we thank you!
This year's Pregnancy Help Appreciation Week is November 6-10, 2023
If you haven't heard of Pregnancy Help Appreciation Week before, you should expect special deals, thank-you messages, and extra prayers this week.
Plus! We'll be holding a drawing at the end of the week where one lucky winner will get a fun gift basket from us at Heartbeat!
Download any of the images below to share on Facebook, Instagram or tweet and show your love for the pregnancy help movement using the hashtag #ThankAPregnancyCenter
Unplanned GrandparentingDiscussing the Adoption Option in a Post Roe AmericaCoaching Your Client for ChangeSex Trafficking and Abortion*Empowering Clients with Doula Support
How to Identify (and use) a Media Hit PieceTurning Legislators into AlliesPreparing Your Clients for Public SpeakingOpioids and Pregnancy*Expansion: Adding a Maternity Home to your Pregnancy Help OrganizationServing Women with Mental Illness in the Maternity HomeWhy Not Birth Control
How to Identify and Assist Victims of Human TraffickingAnswering Tough CallsIdentifying Fake ClientsAdvancement Bootcamp
We've got the last five years of Conference recordings available all the time from Heartbeat Academy, but, today only, you can get the bundle on a topic of your choice for 75% off. Maybe you want to see what's going on in the housing presentations, the fundraising workshops or medical advancement content. This is a great chance to do it at a steep discount!
*This training offers 1.0 contact hours for nurses who meet all requirements. Heartbeat International is an approved provider through the California Board of Nursing, Provider Number 16061.
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by Jill Evans, Guest Writer
I’ll be honest. I can’t imagine facing a life and death battle in my everyday life. My days consist of diapers, sibling squabbles, meal preparation, and drinking coffee. God made me to be a mom, among other things. That is where my standing in life has brought me and where I know He wants me to invest my love and care. So different from a nursing medical career.
Isn’t that the beauty of life though? God placed such intricate passions within to stir and lead us. It is our passion which grounds us inside – knowing we are devoted and following this map through life which God has laid out in our desires.
In World War I, a young nurse name Alice Ross-King was stationed near the trenches in Armentieres, France. She was 28 and had only been at the hospital for five days. During a night in late July, the Germans began dropping bombs, five of which landed on the hospital. The first bomb dropped through the ceiling in front of her and threw her to the ground. Reports say that she was stunned for a few moments but once she had regained her bearings, she ran to assist those around her.
Now, if a bomb drops in front of me you’ll probably find me crying in a corner wishing I was safe under the covers of my childhood bed. But Alice ran toward the fight! She was later awarded a medal for her “great coolness and devotion to duty”. Being levelheaded and devoted – what a beautiful way to live. Is that not what nurses do every day? Run into the fray and fight to save lives – of babies, but also of scared mothers and fathers?
But, I can hear many saying that this was an extraordinary situation, fueled primarily by adrenaline. And it’s true. Alice Ross-King experienced a horrifying circumstance that the overwhelming majority would never find themselves in. The amazing reality is that nurses working in Pregnancy Help Medical Clinics are daily racing toward this fight, devoted, levelheaded, passionate.
Nehemiah 6:9b reads “Now strengthen my hands.” Four words but what powerful ones they are. Let that be your cry as you run toward the fight and it is our prayer for you!
Even though at times you might feel drained and as worn as the dishrag on my sink, every client who crosses the threshold of your center still needs you. They need you to run to them and to show God’s love in what might be the simplest yet most taxing way – to care for them, and this is why we take this week to express our utmost gratitude and appreciation for each and every one of you. You are AMAZING! We Celebrate You! Thank you for running to the aid of those who need you. You are strong and capable through the power of God. You are doing extraordinary work. May the Lord always strengthen your hands.
Jill Evans is the daughter of Heartbeat Medical Specialist, Susan Dammann, RN, LAS and a joyful mother.
Each month Advancement Trends in the Life Community brings to you a "thank you letter" that you can send to your donors. March's letter is below:
Dear Barney & Betty,
The Apostle Paul makes an interesting statement as he closes out his letter to the Philippians, thanking the church at Philippi for being the only church to make a contribution to his work. In thanking the church, he writes, "Not that I seek the gift itself, but the profit which increases to your account."
A dynamic takes place when we give; a transaction whereby our "account" grows as we give toward those endeavors which honor God. I don't pretend to understand the intricacies of this account of which Paul writes, but we don't have to.
What we do know is that as we give, we see spiritual increase in our lives. We may not be able to see or touch it, but it is real.
So often when we thank you for a gift, I want to point out where your gift is going and how it will assist those we see. This is important, certainly.
Yet, I never want to forget that your gift shows me that you want to grow spiritually, too. So as we say "thank you," I also want to echo Paul's words and seek "the profit which increases to your account."
Thank you. Your gift makes a tremendous difference in this work, and I am just as thrilled to see the treasure you are placing in your "account" grow as well.
by Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist
Click here for more of this month's Advancement Trends in the Life Community.
Click here to download this thank you letter as a word document.
by Amy Ford, President & Co-Founder of Embrace Grace
From my heart to yours, I want to say thank you.
Working with girls with unintended pregnancies, I get to see the fruit of your labor. Whether you are a pregnancy center or a maternity home, I see the transformation that begins to happen in each mothers' life that all started with the seeds you planted at the very beginning of their pregnancy journey.
I work with churches across the nation, providing tools and curriculum needed for them to provide small groups within the church to support and encourage young women with unplanned pregnancies.
Local churches partner with local pregnancy centers by referring girls to each other in hopes that she will get plugged into a church family. Embrace Grace groups are a safe place where they can meet young women going through the same situations as they are and hear about a heavenly Father that loves them so very much.
I see these young women sitting in our chairs with their sweet baby bellies. They are scared and nervous but feel hopeful because of the programs and people that pour into them and tell them, "You can do it. You will be a great mom."
Almost all of them tell me it was because of their local pregnancy center that cared for them at the very beginning, they loved them and gave them hope, is the reason why they chose life. When I ask them what specifically meant the most to them, I hear them say, "They accepted me for who I was." "They told me I could do it." "They prayed with me." "They gave me gently used donations for the baby." "They gave me the sweetest picture of my first sonogram." "They said it was okay to be scared but to be brave too." "They seemed to believe in me even though they had just met me."
"They told me congratulations."
We work with maternity homes as well. They send girls over by the van-full every week to their local church groups. It's so beautiful. They are a family.
Because of you they now have stability, love, food and shelter. Because of you they can dream again. I hear them say, "Since I never really had a family of my own, I learned what a healthy family looks like." "A maternity home saved my life and my baby's life, and as a result inspired me to surrender my own life to God." "I have friendships that will last a lifetime." "I am now confident in myself." "They loved me without judging me, even when I didn't deserve love and inspired me to start loving myself again."
You are saving lives two heartbeats at a time. The generational impact on what you are doing is changing the world. Saying the words, "thank you" seems too simple of words of appreciation when we are talking about saving lives and saving hearts. But when I hear these mommas speak from the depths of their hearts to express how very thankful they are for have chosen life as they look into their babies eyes, I hear them saying thank you – and that is all because of you. Whether you are working with pregnancy centers, maternity homes or in any pro-life area, you are changing the world!
Galatians 6:9 So let's not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up.
Each month, Advancement Trends in the Life Community brings you a sample "Thank you note" to send to your supporters. January's letter is below:
Dear George and Laura,
As we begin 2015 we do so with an optimism that can only grow in the coming year.
Why? Because I'm seeing a trend in those who come in our door. More than ever, they see that we are a place of safety and of hope.
Those that visit us quickly realize that we can be trusted. We tell the truth, and just as important, we choose to love them without conditions.
As a result, I believe we are going to see more and more of our clients choose life for their children, and make other positive decisions for themselves, too.
Quite honestly, you make this happen. Your financial partnership makes this ministry stronger every day; and even brighter days are ahead.
by Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist
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