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When One Size Doesn't Actually Fit All

by Jor-El Godsey, Heartbeat International Presidentone size fits all

There are very few instances where the label for clothing “one size fits all” is really true. This is because, for people both “size” and “fit” can vary widely amongst the “all!”

The same is true for organizations populated by people serving communities that both have diversity within, but are also different from other communities. An organization is best when it is more like an organism – able to adapt in such a way so as to leverage its greatest strengths in the best way to meet the mission amidst the unique needs of those it serves.

Pregnancy help can take many forms, or methods – from one time visits to extended care to full-on housing – all for our life-affirming mission. Similarly, at the heart of Heartbeat International is our mission to advance pregnancy help. Sometimes, that’s been a hand-in-hand effort actively consulting a steering committee through key milestones toward a fully functioning service location. Many other times, that journey has been guided only through various written materials serving as building blocks toward that same end.

The idea of Built by Design, a manual released in 2017, was to put those two concepts together into a multi-layered resource able to go far beyond the physical limitations of Heartbeat team members.

At Heartbeat International, our approach to pregnancy help is intentionally grassroots. Heartbeat was called into existence by local pregnancy centers and medical clinics when it formed in 1971. Today, maternity homes, medical clinics, adoption agencies and pregnancy resource centers are responding to a local need. What works in New York, New York, won't be the same as what works in Inskip, California – and it's more than just a difference of urban or rural. It's the local culture, the political climate, the fundraising sources. 

Those kinds of differences affect everything in a local organization from a name for your center that will communicate a safe place for clients (as well as a worthwhile investment for donors) to the way you recruit volunteers. An organization can sometimes find a way to partner with schools teaching sexual integrity, and build a positive reputation with students who may need them in the future. Or an organization might be called to locate next door to an abortion clinic where a woman will see the pregnancy center in her scariest moments and walk a few more steps for a safer place.

Whatever a pregnancy help organization might be called to do locally, Heartbeat is ready to help. That's why our resources, conferences, and trainings draw from an experienced – and varied – team. And when a Heartbeat team member can't be there every step of the way for a new organization, the resources we've developed can.

In that way, Built by Design, a start-from-scratch guide to starting a pregnancy help organization, seeks to fulfill the key elements of Habakkuk 2:2 (NASB), “Then the LORD answered me and said, 'Record the vision and inscribe it on tablets, That the one who reads it may run.'”  The vision for Heartbeat is to see more pregnancy help organizations and locations reach more of those in need. We “inscribed” that vision in the form of the various elements and how-to’s in order that those who read it, may run with their own vision of pregnancy help in their community!

This guide doesn’t so much condense the wisdom of all the other Heartbeat resources, as much as it connects them together to serve those with vision for life-affirming work in a God-honoring way. That's why, in addition to making it available alone, Built by Design is the key part to our Pregnancy Help Starter Kit, which includes written resources on everything from volunteer training to fundraising, strong leadership to legal considerations. 

The Psalmist (95:1, NASB) describes himself as a “pen in the hand of a ready writer.” Our prayer for this field guide is that it would be found by “ready writers” being used by God to create new opportunities to bring life-affirming ministry to life.

Because one size does not fit all. YOUR community needs YOU, and Heartbeat is here to help.

Dear Board Member . . .

At the end of Pregnancy Help Institute, we invite our attendees to write a letter to the Board of a pregnancy center who might be trying to decide whether to send staff for training or not. Every year, we are inspired by their reactions to working with other like-minded individuals as they sharpen their skills to continue serving on the front lines of pregnancy help. Here's what a few of our 2017 Pregnancy Help Institute graduates had to say.

 

Dear Board Member,newdirector

If you are looking for one single thing that you can do to grow the ministry that you are a part of, please consider sending your director to Pregnancy Help Institute. I know when the budget is tight it is hard to spend money and allow your director to be out of the office. But it is worth every penny. Equipping your director to do his/her job better is a huge part of Pregnancy Help Institute, but the encouragement they will find there, you cannot put a price tag on.

Sincerely,
2017 Pregnancy Help Institute Graduate
New Director Track

 

Dear Board Member,preganant woman ultrasound

If you are considering sending your medical staff for ultrasound training at Pregnancy Help Institute, please do it! It will equip your staff to not only learn/be able to perform basic ultrasound exams, but to give that mother a chance to view LIFE! Not only will they learn the skill of ultrasound, but they will also be encouraged spiritually to effectively help a mother see her unborn. Your staff will leave blessed when they go in, and blessed when they leave (Deuteronomy 28:6).

Sincerely,
2017 Pregnancy Help Institute Graduate
Ultrasound Training Track

 

Dear Board Member,Grow

What I have discovered is how important it is to take some time away to refresh and rediscover our purpose and energize our soul for the work we do. Being a part of the Pregnancy Help Institute training in development has helped me not only affirm much of what I have been focused on, but also to discover new ways to take our ministry to the next level. Development involves everyone on the team, and I have taken away so many ideas that I can present to our team to help us be the best we can be.

This week, I have been challenged, affirmed, and inspired to take what we do for God to the next level. I can take my skill set and use it for so much good. I have met amazing people who I will keep in touch with and bounce new ideas off of. It is so important to value the resources we have through Heartbeat International and to allow your team to participate so that they are more equipped to serve women and their families and affect generations to come and most importantly, be able to put on the armor of God to do the work we have been called to do. It’s an investment for God.

Sincerely,
2017 Pregnancy Help Institute Graduate
Development Track

 

Dear Board Member,Leadership

The investment for the heartbeat International training is not only faith-filled, but full of amazing information that can and will be incorporated into our plans for the home. I firmly believe this is something new members, as we add them to our team, need to attend. Not only has it been an amazing and information-filled week, but it has renewed my fire and excitement for our ministry.

Thank you,
2017 Pregnancy Help Institute Graduate
Leadership Track

Great-Hearted Leadership

by Mary Peterson, LAS, Heartbeat Housing Specialist featuring Susan Barrett and Peggy Forrest

Sue Barrett 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 Women
Our Lady’s Inn

 

Serving a Diverse Population

by Kim Warburton, Executive Director, PRC of Metro Richmondwomen

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.

Faith and Obedience in the Path to Effectiveness

by Peggy Benicke, Executive Director at Robbinsdale Women's Centerfaith and obedience

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:

  • Am I certain of my specific role in this ministry?
  • Discerning God’s next steps, (“Is that really your will Lord?”)
  • Being quiet and listening for God to reveal His plan
  • Surrendering to His will
  • Finding the courage to step off the “cliff” of faith when all the odds are stacked against us
  • Convincing those with influence who may discourage us of the importance of faith

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.

Propelling Pregnancy Help Leaders to New Levels of Success

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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!

Heartbeat International Names Cindi Boston as Vice President

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday | January 12, 2016
Contact: Jay Hobbs, Director of Communications and Marketing
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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.

Heartbeat International to Shift Roles of Executive Team

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday | January 7, 2016
Contact: Jay Hobbs, Director of Communications and Marketing
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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:

  • Launch of 24/7 pregnancy helpline, Option Line (1-800-712-HELP, OptionLine.org), which has answered 2.4 million calls, texts, emails and live chats since 2003.
  • Growth of affiliation from 100 in 1993 to nearly 2,000 at the beginning of 2016.
  • Expansion of affiliation to include maternity homes under National Maternity Housing Coalition, medical clinics with ultrasound, and mobile ultrasound units.
  • Strategic partnerships established with joint affiliation partners on every inhabited continent.

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. 

Building the Best YOU!

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

Best2

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

 

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.

To contact Lori DeVillez call 512-971-7999 or email Lori at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Meet 3 Housing Leaders

by Mary Peterson, Housing Specialist

Angie Hammond

Angie Hammond has spent 27 years in pro-life work including leadership in a pregnancy center, medical clinic, child-placing agency, and three maternity homes. Years ago, as the president of a women's ministry at her church, she heard about a pregnancy center that was opening. By the 2nd training, she was on staff as the outreach coordinator. She has recently retired as the Executive Director of Hope Mansion and is now using her experience to advise other homes. When asked about her favorite part of the work of maternity housing, she noted "My greatest joy is seeing a young woman–abandoned, rejected, and abused–being given the opportunity for God to transform her life." On behalf of Heartbeat, thank you for your many years of service, Angie! Blessed retirement!! Angie can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (972) 814-5502. https://www.hopemansion.com/

Sarah

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 and Kirk Delaney

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/

 

Leading in a Home

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."

 

What do these wonderful leaders have to say about the mindset of a leader?

Angie Hammond

  • "Do things, not like another leader, do them in the way that God designed for you. That means leaders must pray."
  • "Keep your cool and keep it simple. In the face of difficult situations, operate in grace. When the questions are big, ask yourself: 1) Is what we are doing honoring God? and 2) Is it in her best interest?"
  • "Ask your staff lots of questions. Empower your team and give them ownership. Invite their total involvement. Make sure that your staff have everything that they need to fulfill their calling."

Sarah Saccone

  • "Understand the reality of staff experience and fill their cup! Show gratitude; allow them to do things that help them to get re-energized in the deeper purpose."
  • "Encourage your staff not to take things personally. Most of us can't even imagine the life of the moms prior to coming into the home. It's their past and their stories talking when they say awful things."

Grace Delaney

  • "Establish clear-cut job descriptions and roles and have detailed policies and procedures. Then, when difficult situations arise, you are able to default to policies so that it isn't personal and there isn't a battle of the wills."
  • "The best leaders are the ones who empower other people—who don't try to do it all. A big part of our success is partnering in our community in a significant way—with PRCs, with individuals, with the pro-life community, and beyond. Maternity homes provide a missing link. We rely on relationships and partnerships to be effective."

 

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