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Thank You Debbie

DebbieFor the past 21 years, Debbie Schirtzinger has served on Heartbeat International’s staff, working directly with our life-saving affiliates as our network has grown from 250 to over 2,100. This month, Debbie is stepping away from her current role with Heartbeat as she and her husband, Dave, relocate near family out of state.

We love and appreciate Debbie and are so thankful God has placed her in our lives, and we wanted to make sure to include YOU—our partners in this life-saving work—in a celebration both of how God has used Debbie and how we know He will continue to use her in her new home.

  • How did you become connected with Heartbeat in the first place?

    • In 1995, a good friend of mine from church, Catherine Wood, had just started working for Heartbeat. I had helped her with a couple projects by doing some data entry. I wasn’t familiar with Heartbeat but the Lord used Catherine’s passion for Heartbeat’s mission, my trust in her, my computer background, and Heartbeat’s need to nudge me. I started working for Heartbeat in January, 1996.

  • What’s kept you here this long?

    • I think I’ve stayed here for pretty much the same reasons that I came. First, I’ve always felt the Lord continuing to nudge me to stay, gracious enough to continue to use me here. Now I know firsthand His favor to Heartbeat’s mission. I’ve seen the amazing people He has brought in and out of Heartbeat in the last 21 years for specific times and specific purposes coming as a result of prayer and divine appointments. Relationships and Christian friendships I’ve made as a Heartbeat team member as well as the hundreds of affiliates I’ve met and served in affiliate services has been life changing. I’ve even met some remarkable people just hired in the last few weeks that I wouldn’t have known if I’d left sooner.

  • What are some of the ways you’ve seen our community/movement grow and change during your time with Heartbeat?

    • One year Heartbeat’s annual conference theme was Better Together. That’s been true on so many levels. At the local level, it’s seeing staff and volunteers work in harmony together in their own pregnancy center, clinic, or maternity home. It’s seeing local pregnancy help organizations working in partnership with churches and individuals in a community-wide effort. Nationally, I’ve seen groups collaborate to accomplish so much together like collectively writing the Commitment of Care and Competence standards or the pro-life legal community coming alongside national groups to defend pregnancy help organizations under attack. There is also a strong willingness and desire to share with each other things we’ve learned. Through the Heartbeat Academy, Institute, and our annual conference, the community/movement continues to grow together by sharing with each other and encouraging each other.

  • What are some of the qualities of pregnancy help leaders that have stood out to you over the years?

    • Leaders may appear in a variety of capacities. It may be an executive director leading a center, a board member who takes charge of an event, a volunteer who leads an abortion recovery program, a house parent at a maternity home, or someone leading a church group to open a brand new U.S. center or a center internationally. Their desire to serve the Lord wherever and however He wants to use them and to keep learning is the heart of those who love and lead this movement.

  • What do most pro-lifers/Christians not know about pregnancy centers you wish they did?

    • I would hope they know that there’s no agenda other than a genuine love for the clients and the desire to help them and give them hope.

  • How has working at Heartbeat/in the pregnancy help movement affected the way you approach everyday life as a friend/wife/mom/grandma?

    • I’ve seen over and over in a variety of experiences, whether praying for direction for Heartbeat, co-workers praying for each other, or praying daily over the many prayer requests that come in from donors and affiliates, how much the Lord loves us. He’s very personal. When we seek His will for our life, He lovingly, patiently provides all that we need. Seeing so many answers to prayer in the pregnancy help community has grown my faith and made me more courageous.

  • What do you think you’ll miss most about working day-to-day for Heartbeat?

    • Heartbeat and the pro-life community is such a powerful community to “live” in. I’ll miss the camaraderie with Heartbeat staff and all of the affiliates I’ve met over the years. I’ll miss keeping up with affiliate news with generous donor stories, client success stories, and seeing the impact in a community when services or locations are added. I am grateful there’s Pregnancy Help News and other outlets to continue reading these incredible stories.

  • What are you looking forward to most about this next season in your life?

    • I am looking forward to a slower pace. My husband and I are moving from Columbus, where we’ve both lived our entire lives, to a rural setting and I see myself on the back porch reading and easing myself into the day. I want to be part of a community of believers in a local church, and there’s also a local Heartbeat affiliate where I can become plugged right back into the pro-life community. I do have a longtime friend rooted in our new community and we’ll also be living within 15 minutes of our daughter and her family. I’m looking forward to being more involved with them and our 4 year-old granddaughter. I’m already signed up to volunteer in her preschool twice a month, so we’ll see if the wish for a slower pace really happens.

  • How can Heartbeat affiliates be praying for you?

    • Thank you so much! Please pray that the Lord can continue to use us wherever He leads, whether that’s in our own family or in a larger sphere of influence. I have so much more to learn and to give. Please pray not only for our daughter and family, but also our son and his family as they move to South Africa, the same week we move, for two years on the mission field. I can’t thank the Lord enough for the gift He gave me 21 years ago to be part of this incredible community of love and life.