by Mary Peterson, LAS, Heartbeat Housing Specialist featuring Susan Barrett and Peggy Forrest
Years ago, I was introduced to the word magnanimous. It’s a mouthful and hard to spell! But, it is used to describe great-hearted individuals–people of courage, insight, conviction, action.
It came to mind when I thought about two leaders in the pregnancy help community, both with vibrant maternity housing programs, who have recently filed lawsuits against governmental bodies.
Susan Barrett, Executive Director of Aid for Women in Chicago, IL, currently has an injunction against the implementation of SB 1564, requiring all medical providers in the state to refer for abortions and counsel clients as to the "benefits" of abortion. “The law would not allow us to continue our mission,” she stated directly. “There was no escaping. If we were going to be forced to comply, why not fight it?”
Peggy Forrest was in a similar position. As Executive Director of Our Lady’s Inn, she recently filed a lawsuit against the so-called “Abortion Sanctuary City” code (St. Louis Ordinance 70459). The ordinance prohibits any organization, church or business from hiring or firing employees on the bases of what the code refers to as, “reproductive health decisions or pregnancy status.” Forrest passionately noted, “With such infringement upon our rights as citizens of the United States and of the state of Missouri, it left us absolutely no choice but to stand up and fight, or pack up and move out of the city of St. Louis. And moving is not a viable option.”
I asked these leaders to talk about overcoming the fear related to filing a lawsuit. Forrest noted that her staff is fully supportive of the action, “we have each other’s backs and know that the Lord is on our side, so we are not afraid.” Barrett echoed the sentiment, “We are not fearful. We put a lot of thought into it and our faith compels us to be strong.”
However, both noted the importance of a network of peers in maintaining strength in the fight. “I surround myself with a group of people who share the same values and are also very strong leaders,” Barrett noted. “It is much easier when people are doing it together.” Forrest suggested something similar, “If your mission is in jeopardy, find someone to stand with you. There is strength and power in numbers.”
Various laws and codes that further push an abortion agenda have been popping up in various parts of the country. The pro-life movement and maternity housing community are grateful for these two leaders, and others like them, who have chosen magnanimous leadership. May their witness of great-heartedness encourage all of us to do the same when needed!
For more info about these two programs or their strong leaders, please visit their websites:
Aid for WomenOur Lady’s Inn
by Kim Warburton, Executive Director, PRC of Metro Richmond
The Pregnancy Resource Center of Metro Richmond (PRC) serves from 13 to 15 different known ethnic groups. Since it is our goal to serve with excellence, it has been important to understand the cultural barriers and ways to overcome them so that we can reach more women who are at risk for abortion. We are blessed to have the International Mission Board just a few miles from the PRC and grateful that some of the missionaries have shared nuggets with us on some nuances that will help us.
As pregnancy help centers, we are On a Mission from God with rich opportunities to reach out in love to those who are seeking God and reaching out for Him as they struggle with life decisions in the face of an unexpected pregnancy.
As a child, I remember praying for missionaries throughout the world. I loved hearing their stories about the different people groups they served. What impressed me most was their love for the people and the joy in their hearts as they shared about how God was working in those nations.
Growing up most of my friends and neighbors had lived in the community for so many generations but I have always felt joy in getting to know people from other nations and hearing their stories. I am grateful and excited that God has brought the nations to Richmond, Va.
Over the years I have met some amazing people who were born and grew up in other nations. Their life’s experiences have often been so different from mine, yet I am blessed to have fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ. God is so good to enlarge our boundaries so that we can know our larger family throughout the world.
I remember a couple I met from the Netherlands who moved to Richmond, Va. on missionary assignment. Have you ever considered how many missionaries from other nations now live in the United States and see us as their foreign mission field? How many of those missionaries might live in the communities surrounding your pregnancy center?
Acts 17:26-28 reminds us, “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being’. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.'”
I am hopeful that you are planning to attend the Heartbeat International Conference this year! I am looking forward to learning, serving and growing together!
Join me for my workshop “Cross Cultural Barriers to Reach the Most Abortion Vulnerable” as we explore some of the nuances that may help us connect with at risk women in our communities regardless of their ethnic background. With Jesus as our model we will discuss practical ways to reach out to women from diverse cultures and build beautiful relationships.
by Peggy Benicke, Executive Director at Robbinsdale Women's Center
Have you ever thought, “Okay, Lord, here’s what I’m planning to do. Please bless and provide.”
Have you felt the Lord’s clear calling to do something that you were sure was impossible to achieve because you thought you didn’t have the money, staffing or resources? Maybe you were willing to step off the “cliff” of faith but were held back or discouraged by others with influence. I’ve encountered these circumstances many times in my 22 years of pro-life ministry and look forward to helping you not only navigate these challenges but also helping you to achieve miraculous, God-glorifying effectiveness and growth in your pregnancy help organization's future.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
I’m very excited about encouraging you at the upcoming Heartbeat International Annual Conference and look forward to sharing amazing testimonies of not only effective ministry but significant growth through faith and obedience during my workshop. Topics we will explore include:
Peggy Benicke joined Robbinsdale Women's Center in Minneapolis in 1995 and has served as Executive Director since 2000. Peggy's background in business and marketing and her personal experience with unexpected pregnancies have enhanced her leadership at RWC. She gives God all the glory for the many lives saved from abortion. Peggy and her husband Ralph have 2 daughters, and 3 grandchildren. In addition, Peggy was recently reunited with her daughter whom she placed for adoption at age 17 and now has an additional five grandchildren and six great grandchildren. Meet her at the 2017 Heartbeat International Annual Conference.
by Ducia Hamm
What would bring 62 diverse individuals from a variety of pregnancy help organizations, hailing from 26 states, Washington, D.C. and the Bahamas together at the offices of Heartbeat International in Columbus, Ohio? Without a doubt–that would be Heartbeat International's Pregnancy Help Institute.
One pregnancy help leader summed up her experience as, “a great boot camp and leadership training that helps ensure our future success.”
Pregnancy Help Institute consists of three separate learning tracks: New Directors, Development and Leadership. This year, attendees were able to take advantage of unique opportunities that included a tour of the offices of both Heartbeat International and our 24/7 pregnancy helpline, Option Line.
Each day of the weeklong event started out with a gathering for prayer, devotion and fellowship centered on God’s Word before everyone headed off to their respective training tracks.
At the New Directors training, 48 new executive directors, each with less than three years’ experience in their position, received in-depth training designed just for them. Using the DIRECT Well Manual as their textbook, these new directors were able to benefit from Heartbeat International leaders Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D. and Jor-El Godsey along with Senior Director of Ministry Services Betty McDowell and several of Heartbeat International's expereienced staff members.
In addition, participants gained firsthand instruction on navigating the HeartbeatServices.org website while learning the benefits that OptionLine offers to life-affirming organizations.
“Being a new director is a complex position and a role that involves many facets,” one director told us. “This training gave a comprehensive overview of many of these facets that would be valuable for [new] directors”.
The Development track, an intimate group of six leaders jumped in with both feet on a path toward building strong funding plans for the future.
“With this size, we have a lot of free-wheeling discussion and the opportunity to address a lot of situations,” Kirk Walden, Heartbeat International’s Advancement Specialist and the track’s instructor, said. “And because we had development directors and executive directors from varying-sized organizations, we touched on a little bit of everything and were able to zero in on a lot of individual needs and challenges.”
The Development track addressed everything from a biblical perspective on fundraising to finding and building eight revenue streams that, while relationships stay strong, never run dry.
“Raising funds is about connecting in a meaningful way with those who care about our work, and then providing ways for these friends to do what they want to do—which is to support our work,” Kirk said. “It’s not complicated, but there is a process to all of this.
“The goal of the track is to not only identify how to be successful in building support, but to make sure each person who attends can say, ‘Hey, we can do this.’ I want everyone to walk away with practical tools and plan that works for them individually. That’s the important thing.”
Woven throughout the Leadership track were concepts developed by Built to Lead, an executive coaching program that has trained CEOs, presidents, and ministry leaders nationwide. Kitty Allen and John Rue from Built to Lead guided the group through “The 12 Essentials of Personal Excellence©”.
One of the attendees, Heartbeat International's own Tony Gruber, was part of the Leadership track.
“The class-time was informative, inspiring, and helpful,” Tony said. “I especially appreciated the homework reading assignments. What struck me the most was the high caliber of leadership in pregnancy help organizations and the opportunity that the Institute offered to meet leaders from around the country.”
Wondering whether you should attend the Pregnancy Help Institute in 2016? Check out this endorsement:
"I am leaving this week feeling encouraged, empowered and confident to continute to do the work the Lord has called me to do."
Sound like something you want to say next year? Bookmark this page and we'll see you then!
COLUMBUS, OH - Cindi Boston, who helped start and has led successful pregnancy help center in Missouri as its CEO since 1999, has been named Heartbeat International’s Vice President, it was announced Tuesday.
The announcement comes just days after the organization named former President Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., as Board Chair and promoted former Vice President Jor-El Godsey to President. Boston, whose involvement in the pregnancy help community dates back to 1989, had previously served on Heartbeat International’s Board of Directors starting in 2013.
“From the time we were started by pregnancy help people back in 1971, Heartbeat International has always believed in the strength and expertise of our network, and Cindi is a perfect example of this,” Godsey, who has been involved in life-affirming efforts since 1988, said. “We have admired Cindi’s strengths as a leader ever since we first met her, and it is truly amazing to think about what God has in store for Cindi and for Heartbeat International in coming years.”
Boston chaired the initial board of Springfield, Missouri’s Pregnancy Care Center in 1998, helping to turn $2,000 of seed money and a mailing list into an organization that has served more than 265,000 expectant moms, dads, and students over the past 15 years.
Boston has brought several of the parents who chose life—along with their children—to Heartbeat International’s Babies Go to Congress annual event in Washington, D.C., and is leading one of the six teams preparing for the event Jan. 21.
A 2011 recipient of Heartbeat International’s Servant-Leader Award, Boston has developed relationships with local and state politicians as a member and Board Chair for Missouri’s Alliance for Life. Her efforts helped cultivate a positive environment in the state legislature that adopted its 2011 Resolution Honoring Pregnancy Care Centers and, more recently, increased its partnership with pregnancy help centers through its Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program.
With Boston on board as Vice President, Heartbeat International’s senior leadership team brings more than 60 years of direct involvement with local pregnancy centers between Boston, Godsey, and Senior Director of Ministry Services Betty McDowell. All three hold designations as Life-Affirming Specialists through Heartbeat International's Academy.
COLUMBUS, OH - Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., Heartbeat International’s President for the last 22 years, has been selected by the organization’s Board of Directors to serve as its new Board Chair. The change goes into effect Thursday, Jan. 7.
The first full-time president in the organization’s 45-year history, Hartshorn is now resuming a role she held from 1990 to 2004 at Heartbeat International. She was also a founding board member for Columbus-based Pregnancy Decision Health Centers, dating back to 1981, giving her over 36 years of experience steering an organization from a board level.
Along with her fellow board members, Hartshorn’s first action in her new position has been to appoint former Vice President Jor-El Godsey as Heartbeat International’s new President, a change that is also effective immediately. A long-time pregnancy center leader on the local level dating back to 1988, Godsey has served as part of Heartbeat International’s senior leadership since 2006.
“We are so pleased, as a Board of Directors, to extend this call to Jor-El Godsey as our organization’s new President,” Hartshorn said. “Jor-El has established himself as a great leader, both within our network of life-affirming pregnancy help and more broadly, among our peers in the international pro-life community. We have every confidence that he will continue to lead Heartbeat International into a new era of excellence as we strive together to make abortion unwanted today and unthinkable for future generations.”
Shocked when the Supreme Court handed down its landmark ruling on Roe v. Wade in 1973, Hartshorn and her husband, Mike, thrust themselves into the pro-life arena immediately. They opened their home to pregnant women beginning in 1974, then served together to open a pregnancy help center and pregnancy helpline in Central Ohio.
Hartshorn has written much of Heartbeat International’s core training materials for staff and volunteers at local pregnancy help organizations, including The L.O.V.E. Approach, which was first released in 1994 and is now in its third edition. She was also instrumental in founding Option Line, a pregnancy helpline serving the U.S. and Canada that has reached more than 2.4 million women with life-affirming pregnancy help since first answering the call in 2003.
As Board Chair, Hartshorn will now focus the majority of her time on crafting new training manuals and building upon her 2011 release, Foot Soldiers Armed with Love: Heartbeat International’s First Forty Years, with writing that connects the pregnancy help community into the larger pro-life community.
A leader and director at local pregnancy centers from 1988 to 2006, Godsey holds a Life-Affirming Specialist designation through Heartbeat International’s Academy, and, like Hartshorn, is a widely sought-after speaker among pregnancy help organizations throughout the U.S. and globally.
Major accomplishments under Peggy Hartshorn’s presidential tenure:
About Heartbeat International
Heartbeat International is the first network of pro-life pregnancy help organizations founded in the U.S. (1971), and now the largest and most expansive network in the world. With nearly 2,000 affiliated pregnancy help locations—including pregnancy help medical clinics (with ultrasound), resource centers, maternity homes, and adoption agencies—Heartbeat serves on all six inhabited continents to provide alternatives to abortion.
Lori DeVillez will be presenting two workshops at the 2015 Heartbeat International Annual Conference, Building the Best YOU and Setting a Mark For Success. Below is a taste of each and a little bit about Lori. We are so excited to have her this year at the Annual Conference, and hope you will join us too! (Register here today!)
by Lori DeVillez, Executive Director at Austin Pregnancy Resource Center
Have you noticed that you don't have to look very far to find negativity in your world? It seems we live in a culture where everything has become very fast paced. We are rushing everywhere we go! Often times, because of the rush, people get irritated, tired, and frustrated.
I recently had someone very close to me pass on to Heaven. During this time I realized that there are many opportunities that we miss because of the important demands of the day – well, what we think are important demands.
By missing those opportunities, we ignore the most important characteristics of ourselves. Even in working on who we are, we, often times, want the quick fix. We want the easy route - the elevator instead of the stairs.
About 3 years ago, the Lord spoke to my heart that change was coming in my life. It was time to get my life in order. I began examining everything about myself and was amazed at how little I did. I was just letting life happen to me. I learned that I needed to take small baby steps but that it was time to work on me. As I began to work, I realized that there is so much potential within me that needs to come out to impact my world for Jesus. Each step I took began to build upon the next one. I'm so excited about where the Lord has brought me and where I'm headed.
As we lead the pregnancy resource center or maternity home or abortion recovery or whatever ministry the Lord has assigned us, we are impacting those around us and those that our ministry touches.
How can we make that impact if no one knows about our work though? We also have to Set a Mark for Success! In order for each of us to be the best that we can be it is important for us to have a strategy for setting goals and for achieving those goals. Goals are only as good as we make them come into reality. That doesn't mean that it all happens at once but it does mean that each new day we begin to build on the next to bring us to where we our heart desires to be.
I love basing everything I do upon the Word of God, which we are told is our sword. As we learn more of the Word of God and hide it deep in our hearts, we will then be prepared in season and out for all God calls us to. It seems so simple, and really is simple as we take one day at a time.
I am amazed when I ask people: what is your dream? What do you have hidden deep in your heart that you know needs to happen? Often times the reply is: "I don't know." Very sad. I believe that we allow things in our lives: our culture, people, and thoughts to dictate what happens to us. The Scriptures tell us that with a mustard seed of faith we can move those mountains. Let's link arms and move the mountains and Build a Culture of LIFE together in this New Day!
Lori DeVillez is Equipped with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology/social work from the University of Southern Indiana, and a background in social work, public administration, and missions, Lori DeVillez began her career path of serving pregnancy centers in 1992. From her first position which provided on-the-job medical training, to leadership of both a pregnancy center and a maternity home, Lori advanced to becoming President of The Heidi Group, an Austin, Texas based organization that assists women's pregnancy resource centers. Currently, she is the Executive Director at Austin Pregnancy Resource Center.
Lori resides in Round Rock, Texas, where there really is a round rock! She enjoys spending time with her beloved niece from Indiana and her dog Ariel.
by Mary Peterson, Housing Specialist
Sarah Saccone serves as the full-time Program Director for Lamb of God Maternity Home, daily giving witness to her passion for women in crisis pregnancy through the gift of adoption. Utilizing her Bachelor degree in Sociology from California State University of San Marcos, Sarah worked as a counselor of homeless youth in a shelter-home atmosphere for nine years. She has served on a number of mental health non-profit boards, been a long-time volunteer for San Diego Hospice, and spent time teaching children in East Africa. When describing Sarah, Grace noted, "She is able to mentor, inspire, and listen...but also lay down the boundaries and call the moms on their stuff. I wish I could duplicate her for each of our future homes!"
Grace Dulaney is the Founder and CEO of Agnus Dei Foundation. Inspired by her personal experience as a birthmother, Grace established the Foundation to impact the culture of life by being a champion for adoption as a viable and positive solution to an unplanned pregnancy. The foundation opened its first Lamb of God Maternity Home in San Diego two years ago. Because of its supportive and loving environment, 100% of the birthmothers in their program have stayed committed to their adoption plan. The foundation is laying plans to replicate this unique and successful model nationwide. The stories of birthmothers who have lived at Lamb of God Maternity Home are featured in The Sidewalk Chronicles, a beautiful documentary that aired on January 24th. The film juxtaposes the hurt and regrets of women who have aborted with the joy, pride, and peace of women who have chosen adoption [watch the trailer here]. http://www.agnusdeifoundation.org/
Sarah, the 30-year old Program Director of Lamb of God Maternity Home acknowledged, "It's mentally exhausting. My friends will ask, 'How was your day?' and I think, 'I can't even explain to you how my day was.'"
Leaders in maternity housing face the burden of supporting staff, like Sarah, who are daily facing the complicated scenarios of the moms. Plus, they must manage the logistical challenges of keeping an organization going–keeping procedures legal, staff equipped, donors informed, and more! Up against the programmatic and administrative challenges that a maternity-home demands, the role of leadership is particularly important.
The leadership exercised during the start-up stage has unique aspects. When reflecting on her experience of founding a home, Grace Delaney, the founder of Lamb of God Maternity Home, offered this leadership advice, "The most important aspect is to have things lined up before you move forward. There is such a temptation to put the cart before the horse." She continued, "Reign in and be more deliberate. Set realistic goals; have the right people in place; have the right physical location. Because once it begins, things really start happening!"
Once the home is operational, the challenge of finding "right fit" staff is common. Grace noted, "When it comes to getting the right staff, its 10% knowledge, 10% skills and 80% mindset. Mindset includes things like desire to serve, people skills, and flexibility. You need to find those with absolute passion--where it is a vocation!" Continuing on this theme, Sarah quipped, "Every job description should end with 'and it will be ever changing.' There is just something about the work that demands flexibility." After sharing her gratitude for the wonderful staff with which she worked, Angie Hammond, a long-term leader of multiple life-affirming ministries, reflected that recruitment is a work of God, "You have to pray them in."
Reflecting on the different types of authority with a maternity home, Angie described a lesson that she learned, "My office was in the house, so directing things back to the house parents was essential. If a mom wanted to tell me something, I needed to hear it from my house parents. It also went the other way; if a mom needed to hear something, it came from the house parents. That way, I was teaching the moms to honor authority and to follow protocol."
"As leaders, our responsibility is to create safe, positive environment for everyone to learn," noted Angie. "Our staff need the freedom and safe place to share their experiences, concerns and disappointments." As one of the staff working directly with moms, Sarah described her experience, "There are rough days and there are beautiful days... but there are so many little miracles that it makes it joy to be part of."
Heartbeat International President to receive Defender of Life recognition
COLUMBUS, OH – Celebrating her nearly 42 years of hands-on involvement in the life-saving ministry of pregnancy help, the last 21 of which as President of Heartbeat International, Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., will be honored as a Defender of Life by Students for Life of America, the group announced Tuesday.
The award is set to be presented at Students for Life of America's West National Conference in San Francisco, Calif., on January 25, 2015. Students for Life of America has also announced Professor Robbie George of Princeton University as its East National Conference recipient.
"It is truly an honor to be recognized by an excellent pro-life organization like Students for Life," Hartshorn said. "The work they are doing among high school and college students around the country is remarkable, and I am so thankful to commend with them the great work that pregnancy help organizations are doing every day in every region of the world."
Jolted by the announcement of the U.S. Supreme Court's infamous Roe v. Wade decision Jan. 22, 1973, Hartshorn immersed herself in pro-life work almost immediately, becoming involved in Columbus (Ohio) Right to Life in the following weeks. She and her husband, Mike Hartshorn, then began housing pregnant women in 1974, which led to their realization of a call to begin a pregnancy help organization in 1978.
That call led to the 1981 founding of Pregnancy Decision Health Centers, in Columbus, Ohio, which now serves over 15,000 clients annually in eight locations throughout Central Ohio.
Peggy Hartshorn joined the board of Heartbeat's forerunner organization, Alternatives to Abortion International, in 1986, before taking the reigns as president in 1993. During her tenure, Heartbeat International's umbrella has expanded from around 100 centers to over 1,800, comprising the largest and most expansive pregnancy help network in the world.
Hartshorn's previous awards include the Cardinal John J. O'Connor pro-life award from Legatus International, the Norrine A. and Raymond E. Ruddy Memorial Life Prizes Award, the J.C. Penney Golden Rule Award, the Sanctity of Human Life Award, the Patrick Cardinal O'Boyle Award from the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, the Founder's Award from the Christ Child Society, the Catholic Woman of the Year Award from the Diocese of Columbus (Ohio), and the President's Volunteer Service Award under President George Bush.
Previous Defenders of Life Award winners include Congressman Christopher Smith (R-NJ), Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, Father Frank Pavone, Abby Johnson, David Bereit, and Phyllis Schlafly.
By Jennifer Minor, Editor/Writer
For the last 42 years, October has been recognized as Respect Life Month, focusing on issues of life and the dignity of the human person, with a special emphasis each year. It's also time set aside to spread stories about the good that comes from adoption and the healing that can follow an abortion.
For us, every month is the month we witness, experience, and encounter these stories, so why even bother with Respect Life Month?
It's all about seasons. The seasons set aside in church life to celebrate such events as Easter and Christmas help fuel our appreciation and awareness about truths that should always be on our hearts and minds. We recognize the truth of Jesus rising from the dead every day, but that doesn't keep us from celebrating Easter. In the same way, we celebrate Respect Life Month to remind ourselves and others of the beauty and wonder of life from conception to natural death.
Reflect on this year's theme for a moment. "Each of us is a masterpiece of God's creation." When you go to an art museum and see a painting or sculpture worked by a master artist, what do you do?
Personally, I'm stopped in my tracks, breathlessly gazing on the beauty and wonder of the masterpiece. Between van Gogh's Starry Night, da Vinci's Mona Lisa, Rodin's The Thinker, and Rembrandt's The Return of the Prodigal Son - only a few of the recognized masterpieces of Western art - I could spend days in reflection and admiration.
And yet, these master artists are mere shadows and reflections of the Master Artist, whose masterpieces we so easily pass by without a second glance. God gives each of His masterpieces unique gifts of life, personality, and will. God's art is not stagnant or unthinking. Every person - each of us - is one of God's masterpieces.
When we take the time to gaze at His masterpieces, we can't help but notice the beauty and wonder of each man and woman, adult and child, pregnant mother and unborn baby.
This is the month to remind ourselves, our staff, our volunteers, our clients and our communities that each of us is a masterpiece. It's a time to remember that every life is worth celebrating, honoring, and cherishing as a precious and irreplaceable creation by the Designer and Maker of the universe.
Whether you have celebrated October as Respect Life Month with fundraising, awareness campaigns, or nothing at all, it's not too late to remind someone that they are a masterpiece. Those we serve certainly need this reminder, but so do our staff, volunteers, and everyone we see day by day.
Speaking of reminders, here is one for you: You are a masterpiece created by God, the Master Artist. Even if no one else does, He gazes on you with wonder, both in this season and in every season.
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