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"Equipped and empowered" - New directors dive deep into Heartbeat's Pregnancy Help Institute

Informative, empowering, encouraging and intense … insightful and inspiring … are some of the terms used by new pregnancy help directors to describe a “deep dive” immersion this week into what it takes to lead a life-saving pregnancy help organization (PHO).

More than 60 novice pregnancy help organization directors attended the New Director track of Heartbeat International’s Pregnancy Help Institute (PHI) August 4-6.

“The learning was intense and abundant,” one director said. 

“I feel equipped and empowered,” stated another. “I have a road-map.”

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A global network of more than 2,800 affiliate locations, Heartbeat International provides resources and training to affiliate organizations in the U.S. and across the world, enabling them to serve women and families, and save lives from abortion.

Heartbeat’s annual PHI provides executive-level instruction in a small-group setting, where participants can take information and strategies in alongside experts and other front-line pregnancy help leaders.

PHI has given thousands of pregnancy help leaders professional training since 2007, with key elements continually added as the pregnancy help movement has expanded and adapted to meet clients’ needs.

Assistance in partial underwriting of the extensive training by an anonymous donor in recent years has made scholarships for attendance and operating grants possible for some. 

Scholarships are awarded in advance, and the $5,000 operating grant awards are announced toward the end of the New Director track. The generosity typically prompts an emotional response from the various recipients.

“This week has been such a blessing,” said one beneficiary. “The scholarship was such a blessing, and to be able to attend and be encouraged …”

That new director was also the recipient of an operating grant, something only a limited number of attendees will receive.

She shared the story of learning during PHI that her center would receive the operating grant just after having heard the center would have to cancel its fundraising event just two weeks out at the direction of the state due to continued virus restrictions. She was not the only director whose center is in the situation, and for whom the grant would help mitigate the loss.

“You simply don’t know how much of an impact this has,” she said.

Tweet This: “You simply don’t know how much of an impact this has” - Heartbeat International Pregnancy Help Institute grant and scholarship recipient

Another recipient said of being awarded the grant, “This was a mind-blowing thing that happened. An unexpected gift at an unexpected time can just bless your heart.”

Neither the scholarships nor grants are guaranteed every year, but Heartbeat Grants Coordinator Terri Fox pointed out that the anonymous patron underwriting the gifts values education and training and grasps the financial pressures faced by many centers, and that the grant allows the center to meet the most meaningful need in a given time.

“The donor understands the needs for general operating funds,” she said. 

The benefactor has underwritten hundreds of scholarships to PHI since 2013, and in 2017 began working with Heartbeat International to offer $5,000 grants to center directors.

A team of Heartbeat pregnancy help experts reviews scholarship applications and oversees the grant recipient selection. 

The Heartbeat team also prays over the list of scholarship applicants and possible grant recipients each year.

Twenty-nine new directors from 18 states were awarded operating grants this year.

“It’s something that we celebrate,” Heartbeat International President Jor-El Godsey said. 

Godsey described the essence of pregnancy help ministry for New Director track participants.

“One of the particular things we do in a pregnancy center is we open the door and we love a complete stranger,” he said, “And we’re going to stand there as the hands and feet of Jesus.”

Helping moms in difficult situations understand that God knows all of the things before them can be overcome, Godsey said, “We bring the mom facing unplanned pregnancy to that moment of decision with the love and compassion of Jesus Christ.”

PHI normally takes place over the course of one intensive week at Heartbeat’s headquarters in Columbus, OH, with four tracks running simultaneously. 

However, like Heartbeat’s Reimagined 2020 Annual Conference in April, due to restrictions resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 Pregnancy Help Institute is being hosted in a virtual setting. Unlike the annual conference, though the entire PHI training is occurring live, giving participants opportunities to network within their selected training.

With the virtual PHI this year, the four tracks, New Director, Development, Leadership and Ultrasound, are being conducted each in their own week.

What is absent this year with pregnancy help participants not meeting in person is being balanced with a greater number of people being able to take part virtually, and community still possible via technological communication tools.

Leadership, time management, operations, social media and self-care are just a few aspects of the PHI New Director training.

New directors continued to express gratitude on Friday after the track concluded.

“PHI really helped me to get my feet under me,” one director said. 

Another stated, “I feel like I am walking out of here a completely different executive director.”

“Not only are we not alone locally,” said another, referencing community support, “We are not alone nationally. We have a family.”

Editor's note: Heartbeat International manages Pregnancy Help News. 

Lisa Bourne

Lisa Bourne is Managing Editor of Pregnancy Help News and Content Writer for Heartbeat International. She has worked in journalism and communication for the pro-life community, the Catholic Church, other Christian denominations and secular media for several years. She is married to Chris, and is the mother of three children here on earth, along with their two siblings in heaven. Lisa writes and manages Pregnancy Help News from Central Iowa. 

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