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Sunday, 20 January 2019
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Though shaken, HeartReach Center's $2 million building withstood last month's earthquake to continue serving Alaska families in need. Though shaken, HeartReach Center's $2 million building withstood last month's earthquake to continue serving Alaska families in need. Photo Courtesy: HeartReach Center

After the Earthquake: Alaska Pregnancy Center Spared from Destruction

Joyce Moropoulos and her husband were just rearranging their Wasilla, Alaska home when the magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck. At first, Moropoulos didn’t take the tremors too seriously. 

“You get used to earthquakes here in Alaska. In fact when that started, I was like, ‘Oh brother, c’mon hurry up,’” she told Pregnancy Help News. “And then it just didn’t stop, and the shaking got worse.”

As dishes and pictures came crashing down around them, Moropoulos’ husband embraced her and the couple said a prayer: “Jesus, protect us, protect our family.”

And He did. By the end of it, the Moropoulos family and the whole surrounding area had survived the mighty quake. Although glass littered her home and the back window of her car was shattered, Moropoulos was grateful they hadn’t lost power or water, as so many homes did.

After assessing her family and their house, Moropoulos’ next concern was HeartReach Center, the pro-life pregnancy help center where she has served as executive director for the last six years.

There, within the center, sat a brand new ultrasound machine, purchased and delivered by the Knights of Columbus just two weeks before the earthquake rocked Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley. 

In a state where abortion is taxpayer-funded and allowed through all nine months of pregnancy, the new machine is a crucial tool for the pro-life organization. Marveling at the clarity of the new machine’s images, Moropoulos says it shows a tiny 8-week baby just beautifully.

To her great relief, the ultrasound machine survived November’s earthquake with just a few scratches from some glass. And all in all, the entire HeartReach center—a $2 million building and plot of land—did quite well. Though the center bore some sheet rock damage, the remaining mess was relatively easy to cleanup.

But like Moropoulos, the rest of the Wasilla community wasn’t so lucky.

The center’s client services director had to have her whole chimney dismantled. While she and other staff tended to their families and homes, HeartReach closed for two days before returning to serve those in need on Wednesday, December 5.

Many clients shared their desperation and fear at the center’s Christmas open house last week—all the more reason for HeartReach to open its doors again. With many stores closed for a day or more, HeartReach provided diapers and other emergency needs, such as formula and clothes, to clients and non-clients alike. As the diaper bank for the state of Alaska, the center was more than equipped to rise to the occasion.

Tweet This: Amidst last month's earthquake, this #prolife pregnancy center provided diapers and other emergency needs to Alaska families.

Each year, HeartReach receives about 2,000 client visits from women and men seeking support through pregnancy and beyond. Last year alone, the center gave out over 17,000 items—including diapers and clothing—to families in need. Along with pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and material resources, the center offers parenting classes to educate women and men on the parenthood journey.

With eight staff members and about 40 volunteers on hand, the center is serving far more clients than it could keep up with just a few years ago at its former location.

“We had a four-bedroom house that we were operating out of and it was just becoming absolutely ridiculous trying to fit everything into there,” said Moropoulos.

That’s when a local businessman contacted her. Convicted about ending abortion in America, he showed Moropoulos a stunning plot of land in the center of town and asked her what she thought of it.

“It’s right smack in the middle of all of our community—it’s really in the heart of our community. It’s an amazing spot, it really is,” she said. “And with fear and trembling, I said, ‘This would be an amazing area for us!’” 

With that, the businessman wrote a $250,000 check to purchase the land. 

“And then we just prayed, “God what do I need to do next?’” Moropoulos said. Although she’d never applied for a grant before, she submitted applications to three different foundations and was awarded one from each.

“So we have a $2 million building and land, and just a beautiful spot God gave us—absolutely amazing, a miracle,” she said.

After last month’s earthquake, she feels all the more blessed by the location—far enough from the faultline to help it avoid devastation.

“Obviously, it's a ministry that God honors because we’ve just seen miracle after miracle walk through our door,” she said.

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Heartbeat International—a network of more than 2,600 local pregnancy help centers throughout the world—accepts donations to pregnancy centers affected by catastrophes through its HALO Fund. To make a gift today, click here.

Katie Franklin

Katie Franklin is managing editor for Pregnancy Help News and content writer at Heartbeat International. She previously served as director of communications for Ohio Right to Life and is a graduate of Denison University where she earned a B.A. in history in 2013. Katie lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Miles and daughter Elizabeth.

 

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