It’s no secret the majority of the 2,500 pro-life pregnancy centers in the U.S.—not to mention thousands more internationally—operate on a shoestring budget.
So, when Mari Wingate approached her board of directors about flying halfway across the country for the 2017 Pregnancy Help Institute at Heartbeat International’s headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, she knew it would be a big ask.
As a new director at Living Help Center in Downey, Calif., Wingate also knew she and her center couldn’t afford to miss out on a training specifically geared to get her up to speed on what she needed to serve women in her community with viable alternatives to abortion.
To help cut the cost, Wingate applied for and received one of 50 scholarships to the Institute, which were provided by an anonymous Heartbeat International donor.
On Aug. 4, the last day of the training, Wingate was told her center had received another gift from the same donor: this time, a $5,000 check earmarked for ongoing operating expenses at Living Help Center.
It was actually the second time since Living Help Center had been given an unexpected, sizeable gift since Wingate’s board of directors agreed to send her to the Institute, which ran from July 31-Aug. 4.
Just a day after her board gave her the go-ahead to come, a woman had walked into Living Help Center to give $10,000—fully 10 percent of the center’s annual operating budget.
“We opened up the purse strings a little bit, and look at what God did,” Wingate said.
Just as Wingate and 81 fellow pregnancy help leaders at Heartbeat International’s headquarters caught their collective breath following the announcement, however, Heartbeat International president Jor-El Godsey made a follow-up statement to the group: “Wait… there’s more.”
Wingate’s gift, it turned out, was just the tip of the iceberg. Her organization was one of 36 to receive a $5,000 one-time gift toward operating expenses, all underwritten by the same donor who’d provided scholarships to 50 attendees in the first place.
Tweet This: "We opened up the purse strings and look what God did." #prolife @HeartbeatIntl
“It’s so great when people who recognize the importance of training invest in leaders like Mari,” Godsey said. “Lives are being changed and families are being built up in communities all over our nation and all over the world through supporters who see the value of coming alongside life-affirming leaders and ministries.”
Underwriting a total of 127 scholarships to Pregnancy Help Institute since 2013, the anonymous donor has given over $200,000 toward 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 equipped close to 500 leaders through its Pregnancy Help Institute since 2007, in addition to its Annual Conference and online Academy that train 1,000 and 3,500 leaders each year, respectively.
“I cannot imagine a more fitting training to kick off this new position,” one attendee wrote after the event. “I left challenged, inspired, feeling connected to others in the movement. Thank you, Heartbeat International, for providing such excellent training. Thank you, generous donor(s), for providing my scholarship and check for operating expenses back at my center. I am humbled and blessed.”