The 2017 Pregnancy Help Institute Ultrasound Track was a great success!
Heartbeat International was incredibly blessed to have Tammy Stearns, RDMS and Bryan Williams, RDMS facilitate the ultrasound training portion of PHI. Tammy and Bryan, along with several other volunteer sonographers, spent the week training ten participants, including nurses, an RDMS, a Nurse Practitioner and a physician, from Pregnancy Centers around the country. Trisonics and Preferred Medical Systems, in a joint collaboration, provided ultrasound machines for use during the week of training.
The ultrasound training not only contained a didactic portion and scan labs, but a spiritual component as well. Tammy opened each day reminding the class that this is a ministry, not just a skill, and that this ministry is something that can only come out of God’s overflowing presence in our lives, and not from within our own selves. Each day, Tammy’s devotions emphasized how the spiritual side of things was a big part of the ultrasound ministry.
“I appreciate that this training was tailored to working in a CPC. I learned not only technical training but the spiritual aspect of giving these babies a voice for the first time.”
Each morning there was a classroom-style teaching which covered topics from physics and QA in the ultrasound setting, to anatomy of mom and baby, and abnormal findings while performing ultrasounds. For many of the participants, this was the first time they had undergone such a training, and the curriculum was designed to be real and applicable.
The afternoon scan labs were a huge success. There were 7 instructors who were involved in the hands-on training, and about 40 “models” from the community who volunteered their time (and bellies) for the students to take turns scanning. In total, about 200 scans were performed by the class (about 20 per student) which went towards the recommended 50-75 training scans that is recommended for Limited OB Ultrasound training. The students learned the basics of scanning a typical client that may present in the PRC, as well as the unique instruction on how to dialogue with the abortion-minded client during a scan.
“This was a very informative training. Each sonographer had a helpful hint to give, each one gave critical information for getting good ultrasounds. The didactic information was explained fully and in a helpful way. I believe I got way more than my money’s worth.”
The overall success of this year's ultrasound training will prove to be a huge tool in the PRC tool-belt as more qualified medical professionals are learning the ultrasound skills they need to be successful in the collective quest for life.
Tiffany and her son, Jonathen, in 2016.
by Carrie Beliles, International Program Specialist
Last week, I received a Facebook message in the middle of the night. Most Facebook messages in the middle of the night are no big deal, but for me, this specific message was.
Why? Because God knew this message was exactly what I needed to hear at that specific moment.
I needed to wake up, to be shaken out of where I was mentally and reminded of a principle God taught me four years ago.
It is not about me. It is all about Him.
Let’s go back to four years ago, when I found myself the newly appointed executive director of a pregnancy help center in Germany. While I didn’t speak German, the center actually served a unique, English-speaking clientele. Our abortion-vulnerable clients consisted entirely of women connected to the largest U.S. military base outside of the United States.
And, I took on this role by accident. No kidding, by “accident.” Totally under-qualified, I had never worked in the pro-life world. I’d never been trained or even so much as volunteered at a pregnancy center.
I did however, have a background in the fight against human trafficking, where I worked directly with victims, so I understood there are hurting people all over the world who needed to be shown compassion. My only real qualification was God had been teaching me to love others and meet them where they were.
More importantly, I was also hurting. Having just walked through a recent trial in my own life, my marriage had weathered several years as a military wife, complete with constant separations that are part of the job description. Add to that, I was pregnant with my fourth of now five children.
Because of these—what I considered—disqualifying factors, I assumed I wasn’t ready to minister to others. After all, shouldn’t I fix myself first, then move on to help others? That’s how I was thinking, but of course, I was wrong.
Learning to Handle the “Tough Questions”
As the newly installed executive director, my board sent me to the 2012 Heartbeat International Annual Conference in Los Angeles, hopeful that a one-week training would help start me on the right foot.
In a city famous for its movie stars, dreams and miracles, I was slightly overwhelmed with the actual size of the conference. Heartbeat, I learned, is an international organization uniting over 2,000 affiliates working toward a common life-saving goal. Just walking the halls and meeting others who were doing this amazing work all over the world was an inspiration.
Though I was encouraged, I felt out of my league. Every one else at the conference seemed to be a much better director, board member or volunteer than I could hope to be. All week long, I kept thinking they all must know what they are doing. It was a humbling experience, to say the least.
The last day of conference, I attended a session titled “Answering Tough Calls” with Bri Laycock, the director of Heartbeat’s 24-7 pregnancy helpline, Option Line. Having served with Option Line since shortly after its formation in 2003, Bri was confident and it seemed she was able to answer everything thrown her way. She was professional, ready and prepared—everything I felt I wasn’t.
At the end of the workshop, there was a Q-and-A session. An attendee raised her hand and posed a situation she recently faced. I sat back and listened, thinking, “I have no clue what I would do in that situation.”
The client, it turned out, was pregnant in the midst of a marriage that was falling apart due to infidelity. Multiple families were involved, and the baby this woman was carrying would be of a different race from the client’s husband and her other children. There was no hiding the breech of trust.
I was overwhelmed just picturing the scenario. The consensus approach from the class, and from Bri, was, “Keep her on the phone, keep the connection open, and take it one day at a time.” I remember thinking how glad I was to not be dealing with that situation.
Two weeks later. Tiffany called the hotline.
I had just closed up the center, picked up my daughter from kindergarten and was on the autobahn heading home after a long day when the phone rang.
One Day at a Time
Tiffany’s first question was whether we perform abortions and, if so, when could she make the earliest appointment. As I listened, mother-to-mother to someone desperate with fear, I offered to meet up and talk. When someone, like Tiffany, needs to talk, they just need someone to listen. I could do that.
A mother of three young boys, a married family friend had taken advantage of Tiffany while her husband was deployed in the Middle East. Now, she was pregnant. My heart sank as I realized I knew the wife whose husband was the father of Tiffany’s baby.
My thoughts went back to that session at the Heartbeat International Annual Conference. I’d only been back a couple of weeks, so the conversation—and that fleeting sense of relief that, at least I wasn’t dealing with this situation—was still fresh in my mind.
I asked myself, “What would Bri do in this situation? How would she handle this ‘Tough Question?” How on earth could I help to “fix” this?
That’s when Bri’s answer at the workshop crystalized in my mind: Keep her on the phone. Keep the connection open. Take it one day at a time.
As I got to know Tiffany and listened to her story, God began to teach me to take one step at a time, one day at a time. I wasn’t going to “fix” Tiffany’s situation. There was no formula. There were very few words of wisdom I could offer.
I only had the love of Christ, which I have seen and experienced in my own life, and which I could draw upon to share with someone who was hurting, alone and scared. Extending love was all Tiffany needed at that moment. Looking back, I’m sure that, had I tried to impart counseling methods or a fixed scenario, I may have missed an opportunity to actually love her.
The Miracle of Love
This life of love starts right where we are. I didn’t have years of training or relevant experience; it was a core principle that came to light in the “Tough Questions” workshop that set me on course. Stay on the line. Keep the connection open. Take it a day at a time.
Often, we count ourselves out even before we give ourselves the chance to see how God works through us. Whether it’s our perceived gap in our qualifications, preparation or “life-togetherness,” we need to remember that it’s God who works through us, and He’s the one who qualifies the unqualified.
Hitting my Facebook message folder four years after we first met, Tiffany’s note jarred me out of the same thought pattern to which I—and I’m guessing, you—tend to default.
Tiffany is now a homeschooling mother of five young boys. She’s going back to school to pursue a degree in crisis counseling. She reached out to let me know that, because of the way God worked through our relationship, she wants to do the same for others.
What a powerful reminder of the God who supplies our every need “according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” I know He has supplied mine. What a blessing to know He’s done the same for Tiffany.
You can read Tiffany’s story here.
by Dawn Lunsford, Associate Director of Academy
Heartbeat Academy is celebrating an important milestone, as more than 3,000 students from around the world attended and completed training online in May, 2016 alone.
Although this number of students is certainly cause to celebrate, what we celebrate goes beyond these 3,000 students as we look to the ripple effect ongoing training and continuing education has on the pregnancy help movement worldwide.
Heartbeat International originally launched our Academy in 2011 to make training on key manuals and dynamic speakers just a click away, empowering pregnancy help organizations right where you are, in whatever issue or situation you are facing, with on-demand training.
The software and technology that power Heartbeat Academy provide plenty of numbers to identify, study, and celebrate.
We celebrate as students rack up hundreds of training hours each month, thousands a year. We celebrate each hour of credit toward the Life Affirming Specialist designation earned. But what brings us true joy, true cause to rejoice, is when we hear about the effect ongoing training has had on our students themselves and the organizations with which they are involved.
The most important thing students learn in the Academy is not in a course, but is in realizing the profound effect ongoing training can have on staff—not to mention clients, organizations and communities.
I can’t help but smile at God’s planning when learning that a center with a successful Abortion Pill Reversal story first heard about the procedure and the APR network from their volunteer nurse who logged on because she needed the contact hour credit a year and a half ago.
Or, at the director who took a course on the Commitment of Care and Competence in case it would be good for a new staff member who had some downtime, only to find the content she needed for her next in-service.
Heartbeat Academy is positioned to equip you to have moments like these with the click of a mouse.
In addition to the pivotal information available in an on demand format, in 2013 Heartbeat Academy launched its first live hybrid course, ConCERT: Consultant Continuing Education Renewal and Training. ConCERT is an opportunity for staff and volunteers to train directly under Heartbeat staff.
The most common remark from students who have finished the course is, "This wasn't completely new information, but now I can see how it works in the big picture." Our students grow in confidence, skill, and understanding bringing all of that back to their organization and their community.
It’s not uncommon to speak to these students months or years later and hear how the course not only helped them grow professionally by earning the Life Affirming Specialist designation, but helped their organization as well. Our ConCERT training does so much to help leaders grow in essential areas like increasing their reach through media coverage, expanding services, and building partnerships with other organizations.
So, while we wait and see what ripple effects we’ll see from the 3,000 students working in the Academy this past month, we rejoice at the opportunity to serve and invest in you. Whether by helping affiliated centers train volunteers through a private course, offering credit for nurses, or tackling current events with a dynamic webinar, the Academy is just one way Heartbeat is committed to coming alongside and continuing to help equip and empower pregnancy help organizations around the world.
Join over 3,000 students by choosing a class from the Heartbeat Academy today!
by Jennifer Minor, Editor/Writer
If you’ve visited our job registry lately, you know that Heartbeat International is looking for an Office Assistant right now. (By the way, please share this link with anyone who might be interested in serving the administrative needs of Heartbeat.)
We hope you’ve had the pleasure of speaking with our soon-to-be former office assistant, Hannah Sapp. While we’re sad to see Hannah move on, we are thrilled to tell you that Hannah’s move will be no further than down the hall—to our 24-7 contact center, Option Line.
“It’s all an adventure,” Hannah says. “While I’m leaving a team I love, I’m also joining a team I love.”
Hannah has been a light at Heartbeat Central. Coming with a heart for teen girls and sexual integrity, she was excited to learn more about what serving young women looks like from a nonprofit perspective when she first joined our team in early 2014.
With an eventual hope of starting a transitional housing project for vulnerable young women, Hannah has had a front-row seat to Heartbeat International’s burgeoning partnership with the National Maternity Housing Coalition, which started in April of 2013.
Hannah certainly has learned a lot on the Ministry Services team. Besides being one of the first to answer phone calls, she never misses a chance to ask a question and find out more about what our affiliates face, from client issues to legal issues, offering prayer and passing along prayer requests to the rest of our team.
From day one, Hannah has shown a learner’s mentality, gaining a grasp on a wide variety of issues our affiliates face every day.
But something was missing.
Hannah’s heart for teen girls inspired her to pick up a few hours a week at Option Line to serve that community with a message of hope, love, and compassion. Very quickly, it became clear that Option Line is where Hannah is being called full-time for the next season in her life.
The job of an Option Line consultant is unique and challenging. The 650 women (and sometimes men!) who reach out to Option Line every day via phone, email, text and live chat are in desperate need of another person. That’s why Hannah and her fellow consultants direct each caller to your pregnancy help organization, where they can get the in-person help they don’t always know they need.
It’s Hannah’s position at Heartbeat International—passing on encouragement and feedback, equipping pregnancy help leaders, and praying with staff and affiliates—that has brought her to a place where she can serve women at Option Line well.
“I can send callers to our affiliates because I have seen the value of their centers,” Hannah says. “I have confidence that when they go there, they will receive hope.”
So as Hannah moves down the hall, take the chance the next time you call in to say hi and thank her for all the work she's done—and will do—for you and for the women we’re serving together.
COLUMBUS, OH - Less than two months into the calendar year, 2016 is shaping up to be a major marker in Heartbeat International’s history. The network is welcoming its 2,000th affiliated pregnancy help organization and celebrating the 13th anniversary of its 24-7 pregnancy helpline, Option Line.
Called into existence by local pregnancy centers in 1971 as the first-ever network of pregnancy help, Heartbeat International’s 2,000th affiliate is First Choice Pregnancy Center, a medical center offering free ultrasound scanning, STI testing, pregnancy testing and more in Weatherford, Oklahoma, home of Southwestern Oklahoma State University.
The center’s executive director, Kathy Gibson, whose journey to pro-life work began shortly after she experienced an abortion, attended Heartbeat International’s Pregnancy Help Institute in Dec. 2015, along with her executive assistant.
“In 20 years in this work, I have never experienced anything like it,” Gibson said of the Institute. “From there, joining Heartbeat International was a no-brainer. I feel like Heartbeat is in touch with who we are and where we are, and we love the personal touch that Heartbeat offers.”
Option Line (1-800-712-HELP; OptionLine.org) represents one of the central visions of Heartbeat International’s founding generation—comprised of pro-life ob-gyns and an unsung hero of the Holocaust—of a hotline connecting callers with help near them.
Since answering its first call in 2003, Option Line has responded to over 2.35 million contacts, including phone calls, live chats, texts and emails. The helpline answered over 243,000 contacts—650 every day—in 2015. Option Line also increased its web traffic in 2015 by launching a new iteration of OptionLine.org, and has expanded its capability of connecting contacts directly to local pregnancy help to over 500 locations.
Overall, Option Line refers to 2,250 pregnancy help organizations throughout the U.S. and Canada.
“It’s incredible to think of the children who are becoming teenagers this year who may never have been if not for Option Line,” Bri Laycock, director of operations for Option Line, said. “We are convinced now more than ever that local pregnancy help is what makes the difference between life and abortion for so many mothers. That’s why our energies have always been—and will always remain—focused on connecting callers and website visitors to pregnancy help people near them.”
At 2,000 affiliate locations worldwide, including a presence on every inhabited continent, Heartbeat International continues to be the largest network of pregnancy help.
Hosting its 45th Annual Conference March 29-31 in Atlanta, Heartbeat International announced a leadership transition in early January, as Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., the organization’s president of 22 years, took on new responsibilities as Chairman of the Board, promoting longtime vice president Jor-El Godsey as only the second president in the 45-year history of the network.
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - With over 40 years’ experience in the pro-life movement, Heartbeat International president Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., has been selected to chair a plenary panel on the sanctity of life at World Congress of Families IX, meeting Oct. 27-30 in Salt Lake City.
The plenary panel is comprised of five major voices in the pro-life movement, each representing a distinct sphere of influence. An addition to from Hartshorn’s expertise in the pregnancy help community, panelists include LifeSiteNews’ co-founder and editor John-Henry Westen, Americans United for Life president and CEO Charmaine Yoest, Ph.D., Life Action founder Lila Rose, and Dr. Alveda King, Priests for Life’s director of African American outreach and niece of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“This panel represents some of the very best of the life-affirming pro-life movement,” Hartshorn said. “It really is a pleasure to serve alongside such excellent leaders, especially when I reflect on how far our movement has come. We have a solid foundation to continue building upon, and it’s clear our future is bright.”
The upcoming meeting at the World Congress of Families marks the third for Hartshorn, who has spoken at past events in Russia and Malta. Heartbeat International is a sponsor of the meeting, which features thousands of pro-family participants from over 80 countries.
Later in the week, Hartshorn will join a panel chaired by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary assistant professor of ethics Evan Lenow, addressing the topic, “How the Culture Undermines Life and Family.”
A past recipient of President’s Volunteer Service Award under President George H.W. Bush, the J.C. Penney Golden Rule Award, the Defender of Life Award from Students for Life and the Cardinal John J. O’Connor pro-life award from Legatus International, Hartshorn and her husband, Mike, began housing pregnant women in 1975 and launched Columbus, Ohio-based Pregnancy Decision Health Centers in 1981.
Hartshorn, the first paid executive of Heartbeat International, took over the organization when it had only 250 affiliates back in 1993, and has since grown the network to nearly 2,000 pregnancy help centers, medical clinics, maternity homes and nonprofit adoption agencies.
Heartbeat International is the first network of pro-life pregnancy resource centers in the U.S. and the largest and most expansive in the world. Since 1971, Heartbeat has supported, strengthened and started pregnancy help organizations, including pregnancy medical clinics, pregnancy resource centers, maternity homes, and adoption agencies all over the world. Currently, Heartbeat serves over 2,500 affiliate locations on all six inhabited continents to provide alternatives to abortion.
We are a nonprofit, interdenominational Christian association of faith-based pregnancy resource centers, medical clinics, maternity homes, and nonprofit adoption agencies endorsed by Christian leaders nationwide.
...is to make abortion unwanted today and unthinkable for future generations.
...is to Reach and Rescue as many lives as possible, around the world, through an effective network of life-affirming pregnancy help, to Renew communities for LIFE.
To achieve our mission, we do the following:
We REACH those who are abortion-vulnerable through Option Line's® 24-hour call center and cutting-edge website, www.OptionLine.org.
"Reach down your hand from on high; deliver me..." - Psalm 144:7
We RESCUE those who are reached through our life-support network of pregnancy centers providing true reproductive health care, ministry, education, and social services where lives are saved and changed.
"Rescue me, O Lord, from evil men; protect me from men of violence. " - Psalm 140:1
We RENEW broken cities around the world, by developing pregnancy centers where abortion clinics are the only alternative for abortion-vulnerable women.
"He sent me to bind up the brokenhearted...to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor... They will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations." - Isaiah 61:1-4
Heartbeat's staff is led by Jor-El Godsey, our second president, preceded only by current Board Chair Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D. Jor-El previously served as Vice President under Peggy from 2006 to 2015.
Board Chairman - Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D.
President - Jor-El Godsey LAS
Vice President - Cindi Boston LAS
Legal Counsel - Danielle White
Executive Assistant - Melissa Olenik
The Ministry Services department envisions, encourages, and equips Christian leaders in pregnancy center related ministries to effectively impact their communities for life.
Senior Director of Ministry Services - Betty McDowell, LSW, LAS
Associate Director of Affiliate Services - Ducia Hamm
Associate Director of Academy - Dawn Lunsford
U.S. Affiliation Coordinator - Bethany Jasper
Conference & Events Coordinator - Molly Hoepfner, LAS
International Program Specialist - Ellen Foel
International Program Specialist - Carrie Beliles
Medical Specialist - Susan Dammann, RN, LAS
Abortion Pill Rescue Coordinator/Medical Specialist - Christa Brown, RN
Housing Specialist - Mary Peterson
Advancement Specialist - Kirk Walden
Office Assistant - Christine Flowers
The Ministry Support Department focuses the efforts of operations and development to support the ministry mission and vision of Heartbeat International to Reach, Rescue and Renew Communities for Life.
Director of Operations and Controller - Tony Gruber
Bookkeeper - Robin Mitchell
Human Resources Specialist - Betsy Wetherby
The Ministry Solutions department provides networking, software, and web solutions to pregnancy help organizations looking for high-tech ways to Reach, Rescue and Renew Communities for Life.
Senior Director of Ministry Solutions - Bri Laycock
Director of OptionLine - Nafisa Shamsher
Coordinator, Extend Web Services - Christy Poloni
Designer/Developer, Extend Web Services - Timothy Stephens
Sales and Customer Service Specialist, Extend Web Services - Jennifer Breymaier
Sales and Customer Service Specialist, Next Level CMS - Margie Mayes
The Mission Advancement department promotes Heartbeat International to Christian communities and educates the general public on what they can do to help make abortion unthinkable worldwide.
Director of Development - Anita Kremm
Senior Development Officer - Phil Petrella
Development Officer - Kathy Chellis
Grant Writer - Terri Fox
Development Officer - Terri Barnhart
Development Officer - Rebecca Joines
Development Officer - Julie Courtney
Communications & Marketing
Director of Communications & Marketing - Andrea Trudden
Web/Media Specialist - Lauren Bell
Editor/Writer - Jennifer Minor
Managing Editor of PregnancyHelpNews.com - Katie Franklin
We are at your service. If you need anything, please contact us.
Heartbeat International is governed by a Board of Directors representing all areas of the U.S., and various professions and ministries. Click here to learn more.
Heartbeat also has a Medical Advisory Council with experts to consult on medical issues. Our work with sister organizations around the globe leverages life-affirming expertise from all over the world.
In addition, Heartbeat has independent consultants who provide training and consultation to affiliates around the world.
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