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The Opelousas Pregnancy Center held it's grand opening in January The Opelousas Pregnancy Center held it's grand opening in January Opelousas Pregnancy Center

Life Launch Grant speeds pregnancy center opening - Pregnancy help start-ups encouraged to apply

In the middle of Louisiana, on day 29 of a June campaign to raise $30,000 in 30 days, the new Opelousas Pregnancy Center Director, Mika Hernandez, only had $14,000. She took the obvious first step in a desperate situation: she prayed: “Lord, I know if You want this [pregnancy center] to open, You can make it happen.”

In April of last year Hernandez had attended a conference where a speaker made passing reference to Heartbeat International’s Life Launch Grant Program. In a recent phone interview, Hernandez said, “I was thrilled to hear about the opportunity.”

Heartbeat has resources for PHC start-ups

Hernandez wasn’t sure Opelousas would qualify for the grant, but Sara Littlefield, Life Launch Grant Program Specialist, encouraged her to apply. 

Via email, Littlefield explained, “Heartbeat has resources to offer every start-up organization. For qualified candidates, the sooner [they] can learn about, apply for, and ultimately be accepted into the Life Launch Grant Program, the sooner we can get vital resources and funds into the hands of their start-up organization.”

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Life Launch recipients are typically in under-served areas, and Opelousas had no pregnancy center. On top of that, an abortionist had recently opened a medical clinic in town. The abortionist’s move to town inspired the Opelousas Ministerial Alliance to start the process of opening a pregnancy help center. They set up a board, located a building, obtained their 501c3 papers and hired Hernandez, a registered nurse, doula and lactation consultant, to be the director.

According to Littlefield, “It was clear from our first conversation that this was a dedicated and capable team of Servant Leaders – ready to take on the challenge and to support and empower pregnant women and their families.”

Qualifying for grant speeds center opening

Opelousas qualified for the grant and gratefully accepted it, and all of the support that came with it.

Hernandez wanted to focus on training volunteers and preparing the center for service, so she purposefully set a short time frame for fundraising goals in her $30,000 in 30 Days campaign.

She hit social media with announcements, gave lunch meetings, and coffee with dessert tours, spoke to the mayor, city council members, doctor’s offices, hospitals, civic organizations, school groups, churches, Bible study groups and individuals. Because of the COVID-19 virus, tour groups had to be small.

Heartbeat affiliation gives credibility

Hernandez said, “When I reached out to other organizations, they were willing to help because of our affiliation with Heartbeat. It gave us credibility.”

But by day 29 of the campaign Hernandez was still $16,000 short of her goal. On June 30 she gave a last-minute, unplanned tour to a woman who came alone. Hernandez didn’t have time to set up the formal coffee and dessert that she usually served visitors.

After hearing about the outreach that was planned for each room in the center, the woman turned to Hernandez and said, “I have no doubt that it’s not an accident I’m here on the 30th.” And with that she offered to donate the remaining $16,000 to the campaign.

God provides last-minute funds

Hernandez says that they both wept. She gives credit to God, “that the Lord would bring her in to be such a blessing, and that she’d be so surrendered” to be so generous. Hernandez adds that this is “just one of many ways that God provided.”

The Life Launch Grant along with the generosity of the Opelousas community, “put us at 50% of our first-year budget. [This] took off some of the pressure from fundraising so I could lay a firm solid foundation and focus on services and volunteers,” according to Hernandez.

Tweet This: The Life Launch Grant & the community's generosity took some fundraising pressure off & allowed focus on services and volunteers

The Opelousas Pregnancy Center began seeing clients last August. The center’s grand opening was postponed twice due to hurricanes, but then again rescheduled and took place late January.

Heartbeat invites contact from start-ups

Hernandez recommends that pregnancy help organizations who are starting out contact Heartbeat International. 

Littlefield agrees, “If you know of a start-up pregnancy help center in the making, share our website and invite them to email the Life Launch Grant Program Specialist, Sara Littlefield, directly: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..” 

An online assessment is available. Littlefield added, “Those that are not qualified [for the grant] are connected with other Heartbeat resources and support.”

According to Hernandez, Heartbeat affiliation gave the Opelousas Pregnancy Center “recognition with an international organization and credibility beyond ourselves, and a financial boost to start off.”

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

Laura Roesler

Laura Roesler has a degree in English from Hamline University with a second major in nursing from St. Catherine's, both in Saint Paul, MN. She completed volunteer training at New Life Homes and Family Services in Minnesota, coming away with knowledge about abortion and its effects surpassing what she’d gained in nursing school. Laura taught nursing assistants with the Job Corps and worked as a nursing home nurse and a school nurse. She left the workforce for several years to raise her family – she and her husband have four children, adopting their youngest daughter from Guatemala at age three. Laura was the editor of Home Health Aide Digest and later remained a contributor, and she has also had articles in Senior Perspective and The Christian Examiner.