Life Launch Grant Program recipients gathered at Heartbeat International’s 2022 Annual Pregnancy Help Conference, sharing how greatly they value the program.
The get-together was an opportunity for emerging pregnancy help centers to connect and share ideas, and it brought out a common theme of gratitude – both for the Heartbeat-sponsored program and the personnel behind it.
“What I recall the most is the volume of resources, having all the different categories,” said Rachael Brothers executive director with Life Options Pregnancy and Health Center in Trenton, Mo. “They became like a second Bible to me.”
Before her group opened their center, Brothers spent months training herself with Life Launch resources, she said, on what it would look like to open the center and how to be an executive director, how to write policies and procedures and what does it look like to form a team.
“And so that was like the first, greatest, source that I clung to,” Brothers said. “But as time went on, I was so blessed to develop a relationship with Heartbeat International, specifically Sara Littlefield.”
Littlefield serves as Life Launch Grant Program Coordinator.
“It was, I think the care and the attention and the detail that she offered,” Brothers added. “She always made sure she brought in other team members that were the experts, but she always stayed involved.”
“And I never had to worry; is she going to follow up?” said Brothers. “Because I knew she would always be back within a couple days, checking in, seeing how I'm doing, and did I get the answer I needed?”
“So that handholding was so precious and valuable to know I wasn't in it alone,” Brothers said.
Heartbeat’s Life Launch Grant Program supports new pregnancy help center start-ups, with a focus on under-served communities. The program was established in 2018, assisting six centers to open their doors in its first year, and currently has 30 recipients and two approved awardees, with 24 centers opened and 18 U.S. states represented.
Heartbeat International is the largest network of pregnancy help organizations in the world; it’s Annual Conference is the largest gathering in the pregnancy help movement.
Littlefield was happy to host the Life Launch center personnel and their coming together to connect in their common mission of pregnancy help at Heartbeat’s annual event.
"This conference gathering of Life Launch organizations is such a special moment,” she said. “The organizations represented span the spectrum of those that have successfully launched and are actively serving clients to those who joyfully anticipate their open doors in the months to come.”
Asked for her thoughts on the Life Launch Grant Program, Kathleen Cherry, executive director of Life Choices Resource Center in Harriman, Tenn., had to pause before summing it all up, landing first on the support she received from Littlefield and the program.
“Oh boy,” Cherry said. “So, life launch is exactly what the name is; It's a launch and it’s doing life together too.”
“I always would call Sara and say, ‘thank you for what you do and thank you for Life Launch,’ she said, “because it gave me the confidence to be able to do my job as executive director and look for and hire my team - the team that God put together already - but He had to show me who that was.”
Littlefield was immediately a source of support.
“And so, I always tell Sara that she is my lifeline,” said Cherry, “that she is my lifeline to be able to do my job and to do it well and to it for God's glory and, and all for Him.”
“A huge thank-you to Heartbeat and to the Life Launch Grant Program,” said Rachel Jones executive director of ZoeCare, located in Yankton, S.D.
“Just being at the Conference, I'm sharing my story and the ZoeCare story with those that I sit with at dinner,” Jones said, “and they always say, ‘oh, wow, that's so amazing,’ ‘Look what you did,’ or, ‘how look what your center's doing.’”
She credits the Life Launch Program Grant with fostering the successful founding of the center.
“And I just think this would not have happened if we did not have the Life Launch Grant,” Jones continued, “just championing us the whole time and equipping us and really just giving us all of the resources and education and confidence to do what God has called us to do. So, thank you so much to Heartbeat International.”
Diane Cosgrove, executive director at Restore Reproductive Health in Hondo, Texas, was very appreciative of the Life Launch Grant, Heartbeat staff who administer it, and the support they provide.
“I don't know where we'd be without the life launch people, the Life Launch Grant and everything that came with it,” Cosgrove said, “because there's so much you don't know, and you don't even know what you don't know.”
She noted how Littlefield was there on the other end of the phone, every time they’ve had a question.
“Our board was blown away by the fact that heartbeat flew Sara down to train us,” said Cosgrove. “It just is another example to me, of the way Heartbeat is pouring excellence into these pregnancy centers.”
She remarked on the program tenets ensuring the center does everything right legally.
“It's just exceptional how you guys are doing that,” Cosgrove said. “And it's just amazing to me.”
Littlefield praised the Life Launch Grant recipients and looked forward to their continued ministry.
“What a joy it is to gather these remarkable leaders in the pregnancy help community,” she said, “to celebrate the milestones they have reached, and to encourage one another as we journey onward together!"
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