This August, during an intensive week of training at Heartbeat International’s headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, Carol Thompson was praying for donations for her pregnancy help center, the Shiloh Center, 600 miles away in Harrisonville, Missouri.
At the same time, another director, Lupe Ramos Watson, executive director of Birth Choice of the Desert in La Quinta, California, was calculating how her center would be able to afford renovations for their new ultrasound room.
Both were looking for ways to continue to serve women and children at their centers. Both felt strapped by their budgets.
Neither knew that their prayers were about to be answered in a big way.
As students at Pregnancy Help Institute—a week-long accelerated educational program for pregnancy help centers—both Thompson and Watson were spending the week learning all they could about how to effectively run a pregnancy help center through the program’s track for new directors.
Thanks to scholarships provided by a generous donor through Heartbeat International, both directors were able to attend Pregnancy Help Institute with their training costs covered in full.
“Without the scholarship, there’s no way I could have come,” said Thompson. “We do not have the funds for me to be able to come here, so it was such a blessing to have all of that paid.”
But a scholarship to Pregnancy Help Institute wasn’t the only gift Thompson would be leaving with.
In a special presentation at the end of the week, Cindi Boston, vice president of Heartbeat International, announced a major gift from the same anonymous donor who provided the scholarships: 20 pregnancy centers, including Thompson’s and Watson’s, would be going home with a check for $5,000 designated for general operating expenses.
The exciting announcement took the directors by surprise.
“I cannot believe I am going home with a $5,000 check because I have to do payroll on Monday, and I didn’t know if I had the funds,” Thompson said through tears.
Not only did the gift help Thompson make payroll, it also helped Watson cover the total cost of renovating her center’s new ultrasound room. All of a sudden, two items she had removed from her list of renovations that very morning were back on the table.
“Guess what: The total of those two items is exactly $5,000,” Watson said, astonished and thrilled by what she calls a “divine” gift.
Heartbeat International's Boston and McDowell with Watson | Photo Courtesy: Heartbeat International
Now, her center can move forward in its conversion to a medical clinic, unhampered by a tight budget.
“Stories like these remind us of the bigger impact of just one person’s generosity,” said Jor-El Godsey, president of Heartbeat International. “Just imagine the miracles that are going to happen in Lupe’s new ultrasound room. That’s powerful. And amazingly, there are more stories like hers all across the country and around the world, all because devoted supporters choose to invest in the work of pregnancy help centers, rescuing and transforming lives every day.”
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Since 2013, the anonymous donor has underwritten a total of 188 scholarships to Pregnancy Help Institute, giving over $300,000 towards the training, which includes a track for new pregnancy center directors with three years’ or less experience, plus tracks for fundraising, leadership, and ultrasonography training.
Heartbeat International has trained close to 600 leaders through Pregnancy Help Institute since 2007, in addition to the 1,000 and over 4,000 leaders trained at its Annual Conference and through its online Academy each year, respectively.
Along with the scholarships, the grants, and the training, students of Pregnancy Help Institute left Columbus with new friendships and new energy to serve families in need.
“I’m leaving here with a renewed sense of hope, purpose, and direction as I learned new ideas and I was able to share those with other colleagues and with the instructors,” Thompson said. “The love of Jesus flows through the Heartbeat staff here and you feel it from every single person here the way they love on us and fill us up and my cup overflows and I am so grateful that I got the scholarship to come.”
Heartbeat International team members with recipients of $5,000 grants | Photo Courtesy: Heartbeat International