Meet one of HELP's Stars, recently featured in Faith Magazine!
Cherie and her husband Denny were recently featured in Grand Rapids Faith Magazine, talking about the worthwhile sacrifices they made to send their kids to Catholic schools. Click on the photo below for the full article.
Knights of Columbus Delivery
Recently, the Sacred Heart Knights of Columbus delivered 400 blankets to us! These blankets were made by the students that will be attending the upcoming March for Life in Washington, D.C. We are so grateful for the time and effort that these students and coordinators put in, and our prayers will be with them as they attend the March. Our thanks go out to Sacred heart for this generous donation. To learn more and to see more pictures, please visit their website here.
Thank You to Our Volunteers!
HELP only works because of the many volunteers who come weekly to minister with the many, and I mean many, gifts and talents that each one of you brings. 2016 brought many new faces to our team of volunteers and they have jumped right in to keep our caring and compassionate spirit alive and well. Just to put things into perspective, here are some numbers...because of your care and compassion, we were able to provide over 4,151 client visits. What I think is really awesome is that 3,741 of those visitors are involved as Loving Arms clients - that's 90%! Clients who come in for ongoing support allow opportunities for seed planting and growth. We assisted with all things baby, allowing the support of the wider community to have an impact. We serve as a conduit for giving out the many items to those in need, allowing for over 36,455 baby items and maternity needs for mom to flow into the community. I foresee 2017 to be a year of us just getting better and better at what we already do well: bringing a light in the darkness, being a smile to someone who needs one, bringing hope to someone who is feeling hopeless. We are just people helping people and it is that simple. I am so blessed to be a part of HELP’s team and I’m looking forward to a blessed 2017! Thank you for all that you do!
Here are some photos from the 2016 Jaycee's Santa Parade. We hope that you like them!
From the Director's Desk
From our Fall 2016 Newsletter
Sometimes my mind wanders into the 'what if's' of life. What if crisis pregnancy work could become more proactive versus reactive? What would that look like? I pause and ponder! Some say that crisis pregnancy work is just a revolving door with a percentage of our clients returning pregnant again, even though we have given them 'the talk'. This oftentimes happens when you are supporting others in a non-judgemental way with care and compassion, accepting them where they're at. Sometimes it is easy to judge situations not knowing where people have been or never having walked in their shoes. But we refrain in order to help them with their genuine needs.
HELP has spent the last few years improving our facilities, increasing awareness with our outreach into the community and shoring up and growing our programs to meet everyone who comes in an individual way. This is an ongoing process, and most of this work pertains to the reactive side of LIFE issues, which is necessary in our mission. As we set our sights on 2017 and the future, one thing we are leaning towards is education that values life in all matters, using Theology of the Body by St. John Paul II as our model. We will continue to move forward with HELP's Board of Directors, staff, volunteers and many supporters to carve out a proactive direction that will enhance our mission for years to come. Be assured of our prayers and know you are always welcome at HELP, no appointment is necessary.
HELP's Fall Dinner Wrap Up
Keith Ferrin: The 3P's: Prayer, Partnership & Participation
Keith Ferrin left me wanting to run home and read the book of Philippians in a whole new way. As he started his exhortation of Philippians, I remember thinking: he'll probably do a few chapters or so. But no, he kept going and I found myself being drawn into the scripture like I was there as one of the Philippi faithful that the letter was written to. I was amazed at Keith's talent to speak God's word in this way and I went away from the evening a better person for being there. I hope those who joined us felt that way, too. Keith's 3 P's of a ministry is exactly what is needed to be effective in serving the community with care and compassion. The Grand Rapids community needs a place like HELP PRC so the gals we serve know "they're not alone, ' a place that helps encourage, that says, "you can do it!" Because of you, it was a wonderful evening. Thank you!
Lines from Lori
Women are making life changing decisions weekly at HELP. Currently in 2016, 89% of women chose life after seeing their baby on the ultrasound screen. Not only are these women deciding to carry, they are meeting with Client Volunteer Advocates (CVA), building new relationships and following up with the many services HELP offers. Our outreach now has a sandwich board sign placed in front of our building to bring awareness of our FREE pregnancy test and ultrasound services. We are excited to say the sign has already brought foot traffic into our building. Just the other day, someone came in because of the sign and I was very excited about that!
-Lori Potter, RDMS
It was a cold Friday in February when Tiffany came to HELP. She was accompanied by Edna, a Sidewalk Advocate for Life, who had met Tiffany outside the abortion clinic in Grand Rapids. Tiffany was feeling desperate and alone, though she was talking to on the phone who lived in New York. Despite all the distractions, Edna discouraged Tiffany to walk away for a time to consider other options for her situation. At HELP, Tiffany was able to warm up, eat some lunch and find a listening ear to share the very complicated issues he faced. She was also able to have an ultrasound to see her baby for the first time and make a connection that would help her move forward with her pregnancy. She left that day thinking an adoption plan would be the best for her. As she got closer to her due date, however, the adoption plan was not to be and she decided to parent her lovely little girl. Her postnatal visit to HELP brought joy to our hearts and a joyful reunion with Edna. Tiffany could not be more thankful.
"Faith is confident assurance concerning what we hope for, and conviction about things we do not see." Hebrews 11:1
Talking Social Media with Lu Harvey
I've been working on HELP's social media accounts for a year now and when I recently reviewed the number I was really impressed with how much we've grown! Our Facebook account has shown the biggest increase, growing by about 40%. We all know that what we do isn't really about numbers, it's about people. The more that you not only SHARE but ENGAGE with HELP's social media accounts, the ore others will join in on the conversation and share about us, too. The end result is more awareness of our services, resulting in a greater impact on our community by more women and families being supported. Be sure to 'find us' and 'like us' soon!
Fall Dinner 2016
Many thanks go out to those who attended last night's dinner! An event like this is the result of several months of planning and hard work - not to mention teamwork. So many people came together to make last night's dinner a success! All of our speakers were engaging and inspiring and it was a wonderful night. We could not do what we do without The 3 P's of Partnership, Prayer & Participation! Please enjoy these pictures of our evening.
Enjoy these pictures of our second annual Let the Little Children Come to Me garden party!
First Annual Donor Garden Party
Our first annual garden party held for our donors was held last week and was well attended. The transformation of our outdoor space was astonishing, and it looked beautiful! Luckily, there was shade and cold beer to ward off the heat of the day. Thank you so much to The Daniel Rolf Music Project and Big Lake Brewing Company for helping us to have a great time. Enjoy these pictures of the evening!
A Day Made in Heaven
What a beautiful spring day, Saturday, May 21, 2016, it was for golfing. The Knights of Columbus Council #10992 of Holy Family Parish in Sparta have, for the past four years, worked tirelessly for HELP Pregnancy Crisis Aid. This year they entertained us at a new course, The Falls at Barber Creek in Kent City, a course you don't want to miss next season. The K of C kicked off the morning by setting the tone on why we were gathered. Using Knight Ed's exact words, "We are here to save lives!" This group of Knights put on a nice event and HELP is thankful for their hard work. Golf, a beautiful setting, steak dinner - priceless! Mark your calendar for the 5th annual K of C #10992 Golfing Outing: Saturday, May 20, 2017 at The Falls. It will be a fun day to support HELP and save lives!
Spring Charity WineFest
The Spring Charity Winefest at Notos was a huge success for HELP. We made more than $6,000 to purchase much needed infant formula and diapers. The generosity of friends who support HELP endeavors is amazing. We are so thankful to all of you, and to the Noto Family who is kind enough to include us in their wonderful event. HELP’s Leadership Team purchased and donated all the designer purses you saw at our auction table. Thank you, ladies, for your dedication to HELP’s mission. The evening debut of our ‘Sign of Life’ project, whereby we partner with a local manufacturing company who makes the metal art, the proceeds of the art
sales comes back to HELP to support our services and outreach in the community. If you are interested
in a sign of your favorite team, use HELP’s contact information to see how. Please join us next year and bring others to keep us growing.
Wright Connection Childbirth Classes with Nurse Mary O
Five times a year, every other month during the fall, winter & spring months, we host childbirth classes in the Wright Connection. This collaborative effort with Spectrum Healthier Communities allows Mary Oleniczak, RN to share her expertise as a nurse and she often shares that she is a mother of five children, including twins. This makes the experience relatable and adds to the class’s caring nature, making it an inviting atmosphere complete with hospitality. Blanca, HELP’s Program Coordinator, assists to make sure everything runs smoothly and everyone is well prepared to welcome their new baby home from the hospital.
Meet Lori Potter, RDMS
Lori came highly recommend to HELP at a time when we were ready to update our Medical Services. With the addition of a new ultrasound machine from the Knights of Columbus, she brought the experience needed to move forward with the process. She prides herself by going above and beyond normal tech services by listening closely to the needs the women have and tries to connect them with resources that can help with whatever the situation calls for. Lori makes it a priority to foster, through ultrasound, that first connection for mom with the baby which is so important early in the pregnancy. Her personal experience with an ultrasound tech who treated her rudely inspired Lori to bring this kind of care and concern wrapped with love to her profession.
"I want to make a difference in women's lives, to show them that someone genuinely cares for them in their individual needs." -Lori
Thank You Mom Campaign Sets Record
The Sacred Heart Knights of Columbus worked with a group of Sacred Heart Academy students and their families to collect 3,888 diapers for us! We are so grateful for their generosity. For the full story and pictures, as well as more about the other ways the Knights of Columbus have helped us greatly in the past, please visit their website here: http://sacredheartkofc.org/thank-you-mom-campaign-2016/
Thank you so much to Council #13641 for your continued support. We could not do what we do without it!
From the Director's Desk
I have felt for some time now that HELP is a place where the 'rubber meats the road', a place that makes a big impact, although I'm not sure when I was firs thinking that a Rapid City Bus was going to be a fulfillment of those words. When I joined Toastmasters #404, the oldest speakers club in Michigan, one of my first speeches was titled "When the Rubber Meets the Road". Now I am beyond excited to have our website on wheels randomly drive Grand Rapids city streets and surrounding areas since last December. The HELP Bus will travel over 41,000 miles for this project with messaging to insure those who need encouragement in difficulties and inspire hope for a bright future. This kind of awareness and outreach can inspire you, too, to become active in our mission. HELP was founded on volunteerism and the community coming together for a greater good. What is more important that supporting LIFE! HELP is a place where words become action. If you have been wondering how to put pro-life advocacy into action, continue reading the following pages for ideas and visit our website volunteer page. Please stop by during our operation hours for a visit and tour. As we like to say at HELP, "No appointment is necessary," your gifts and talents are always welcome here.
An excerpt from the Spring/Summer 2016 newsletter
4th Annual Golf Outing Photos
More photos can be found by visiting this link: https://goo.gl/photos/FcW85FrBSxQv6Hqb7
Goals & Programs
In keeping with its mission, HELP's goal is to promote the healthy development of babies from conception through age two - the most crucial years of life. Additionally, it strives to ensure that every client will leave HELP feeling more empowered to make informed decision.
HELP has developed a number of programs to meet its goals. Information about health, sexuality and pregnancy is available, as well as free and confidential pregnancy testing. In a loving way the agency fosters the teachings of the Catholic Church on chastity, marriage and contraception. The Knights of Columbus recently donated a state-of-the-art ultrasound machine and, because of the expertise of a volunteer medical director, HELP is able to expand its capabilities in this area. Statistics show that women who see their prenatal babies on a sonogram - in the setting of a medical clinic where they are building a positive relationship - are unlikely to have an abortion. Some have the opportunity to select maternity clothing and, just prior to giving birth, each mother is provided a layette of baby essentials, which enables her to be prepared to take the baby home from the hospital.
HELP, the walk-in program, provides formula, food, diapers, clothing and other essentials on a monthly basis until the child's second birthday. Clients are linked to community resources related to pre- and postnatal care, adoption, housing, food pantries and legal or social services. HELP also supports women who struggle with the aftermath of abortion by connecting them with support services within the community, such as Project Rachel and Surviving the Secret. These services provide encouragement and healing from abortion-related trauma.
Through the Loving Arms program, expectant and recent mothers set up scheduled appointments to view instructional DVDs on a wide range of topics such as health, sexual integrity, child care, development and discipline. This incentive-based program awards points to the client that are exchanged for baby and personal care items that can be chosen from the Loving Arms Boutique.
The Safe Sleep program was developed in the fall of 2013 to provide a Pack 'n Play to any parent without a crib for their infant, ensuring peace of mind that baby is safe while sleeping.
The Roots of HELP
The Right to Life movement was born in the years before the U.S. Supreme Court Roe vs. Wade decision that legalized abortion in America on January 22, 1973. After a 1971 rally in Lansing, Michigan's capitol, Grand Rapids Right to Life (GRRTL) was formally organized. Judie Brown, a Grand Rapids mother of six children, joined the local group in 1972 to lend her support to the effort. At one of the first meetings, members discussed the idea of helping mothers in crisis situations carry their babies to term. Judie, who had recently met a pregnant 19-year-old who was considering an abortion, immediately jumped on the idea. With the help of a few friends, Judie founded "Alternatives to Abortion - HELP" later that year.
HELP was first located at 807 Bridge Street, then moved into available space on Sweet St. NE. By January 2003, HELP moved to it's current location at 705 Bridge Street NW.
For over 40 years the nonprofit has provided services to thousands of individuals and families who have experienced an unplanned pregnancy. Although HELP has a tradition of Roman Catholic philosophy and viewpoint, it is nondenominational; people of other faiths volunteer and are served. HELP aspires to build relationships that respect the gift of all human life and the dignity of every human person.
Excerpted from the book Ripple Effects by Deb Moore and Betty Epperly. This book features the stories of HELP and other local charities, highlighting the impact they have on the local community. Stay tuned for more about HELP's history next week!
Meet Kelly & Phoenix!
It wasn't the ideal situation, a surprise later-in-life pregnancy. Kelly came to HELP with a shallow support system, needing a shoulder to cry on and some reassurance that everything would be okay. That's where Donna, a longtime Client Volunteer Advocate came in to help, offering care and compassion in a time of crisis. She was able to offer emotional and spiritual guidance with HELP's Loving Arms Program, offering support throughout her pregnancy, the birth of Kelly's baby Phoenix ad beyond. Kelly also took advantage of a Wright Connection Bible Study where she made some meaningful connections with others who share her struggles. Phoenix is now two years old and has a lasting presence in our hearts. Kelly spends time giving back to HELP through a baby items drive with her co-workers, and her weekly service keeping our back room and boutique in order. Precious Phoenix has become our HELP mascot. We are blessed to have them as a part of HELP's team!
KELLY SAYS ABOUT PHOENIX..."EVEN THOUGH SHE WAS A SURPRISE, SHE COMPLETES OUR FAMILY AND MAKES OUR LIFE FULL!"
Stitches in Time
HELP's own sewing group is always filling in the gaps where our donations may fall short. Whether it's layette bags, blankets, bibs, or burp cloths - you name it and they will create it. They are a group of talented ladies who would love to have you join them once a month in the Wright Connection at HELP. This monthly Saturday meeting is a time to share materials, ideas and fellowship, and, of course - lunch! Can't meet on Saturdays? Sew at home or donate materials, thread, and elastic. Gift cards to fabric stores work, too. So many ways to help! For more information about Stitches in time, call us at 616.459.9139.
From the Director's Desk
So many people who come to HELP for assistance have very difficult situations to overcome. Oftentimes, as I reflect on the day's events, I wonder, "Is it enough?" Most of the time my answer is, "No, it probably isn't enough, but it is something." We can't do it all, but we can do something. With our LAAP Method of Care, we listen to evaluate each situation, acknowledge individual circumstances, accept people for where they are in their lives while caring enough to encourage change, and provide baby essentials and resources. At the end of the day, if we've met this goal - in line with our mission and vision - we trust our "something" into the hands of faith. We know God will make it be enough. Our Scripture motto, "Be light for others," (Matthew 5:14-16) keeps us spired to offer care and compassion to all who come to us for another day. Won't you consider where your gifts may fit into our ministry? Paula Veneklase
Jaycees Santa Parade
Thanks to everyone who came out to the parade on this snowy, wet Saturday - the first snow of the year! Hopefully you all enjoyed a warm drink and a fuzzy blanket when you returned home. It was a pleasure to collaborate once again with Alpha Women's Center, Pregnancy Resource Center and Cradles of Grace for our float.
Ladies AOH Donation
Here is a photo of Mary from the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians presenting our Director, Paula, with a check. The donation came from the proceeds of the Blackthorn concert that the LAOH put on on our behalf, as well as that of a few other local charities. Many thanks go out to the LAOH and Judy Doyle for all of your hard work in putting this together, as well as your generosity with us.
Blackthorn Concert Photos
The Blackthorn concert was a lot of fun - good company, great music, and an engaging show! Thank you so much to Judy at the LAOH for organizing this event - we really appreciate all of the hard work that went into it.
Highlights from our recent fall Client Volunteer Advocate Training
Our CVA training is held twice a year is a wonderful time of sharing and learning, and also an inspiring way to reinvigorate our mission at HELP! Here are some highlights from the most recent session that took place this fall.
Week 1: For our first week, we were blessed to have Mary Stolcenberg, Benefits Outreach Coordinator for Access of West Michigan. She shared Accesses’ mission within the community and how they would like to make services more available to combat poverty and hunger in Kent County. We hope to collaborate with Mary for her services to be on hand for our clients who need extra help understanding a sometimes complicated system. More information about the program can be found here.
Week 2: The topic of The Four Steps of Love and the LOVE approach was presented. We also welcomed Lakeshia Gilbert, founder and C.E.O. of House of H.O.A.P. Lakeshia told us about their "Second Chance Home" program. After an application process, they offer long-term transitional housing to young mothers, and is a wonderful way to get them connected to many helpful community resources. Lakeshia also shared some stories of successful outcomes with this program.
Week 3: This week we had a follow up on The Four Steps of LOVE and Legal Principles. Our special guest for the week was Jan Masser from Cradles of Grace. Cradles of Grace cares for single pregnant women, and they encourage women to transform their lives through the love of Christ. Jan works on the mentoring side of this ministry and shared how it can serve our clients.
Week 4: Our ultrasound tech Lori Potter told us about how she pairs her job as an ultrasound tech with ministry. she shared her passion for life and how it isn't just about giving an ultrasound - it's also about connecting moms with their babies. We also learned that human trafficking is happening where we least expect it, who some potential victims are, and red flags to look for on this important topic.
Week 5: Dr. Kim Barrows, our volunteer Medical Director, spoke on her role at HELP, abortion pill reversal as well as the affect of abortions on women. It was a pleasure to welcome Dr. Kim and hear her insight on the health issues that many of our clients face, to solidify the work that we do here, and to bolster us to be that glimmer of hope to those that come through our doors. You can learn more about Dr. Kim here.
Week 6: Blanca Covarrubias, our programs coordinator, spoke on adding a new Loving Arms/Wright Connection topic on abstinence entitled, "It's Your Life - You Make the Choice". She also mentioned the possibility of other new topics that could be added in the future.
If you missed it this time around, perhaps you can join us for the next round of training that begins on January 15, 2016. Our speakers will be announced closer to the date, and are sure to offer some interesting and insightful topics. We sincerely hope that you can join us. Becoming a volunteer with us is a wonderful way to give of yourself and to make a tangible difference in someone's life. We all have various gifts and life experiences that come together to offer hope and support in ways that you may not be able to foresee. The best way to stay up to date on our events is to like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter - we hope that you join in the conversation with us there!
Laugh for Life 2015
Our annual fall fundraiser was a great night AND a great success! 250 guests sat down to a delicious dinner and came together to help us raise $40,000! We are so grateful for the generosity of our supporters - we truly could not do what we do without them. In addition to the amount raised at the event, an anonymous donor agreed to match $25,000 of that $40,000 - bringing our grand total to $65,000. What an impressive feat! It shows how valuable the work is that we do, and that people want us to be able to keep on doing it. Did you know that another way that you can help us is to become one of our Game Changers? Our Game Changers campaign was launched at the Laugh for Life dinner, and it allows donors to help us monthly by giving whatever amount they wish to on a regular basis - and no amount is too small! Our big fundraisers are so important to our organization and so helpful, but these monthly donations are really beneficial to us in another way - by knowing how much money we have coming in each month, we are able to better plan how to best meet our needs. Our current goal is to have an ultrasound tech in the office every hour that the abortion clinic is open - and your monthly donations can help us do just that! We held a sign up on the evening of the dinner and in addition to the donations made that night, thanks to them, we now know that we will have an additional $450 coming in each month - and it only took a dozen people to make that happen! Please consider joining them by visiting our donate page here and choosing the "monthly" option. Meanwhile, please enjoy the photos below with some highlights of the evening. Many thanks to Cecilie Kaiser for sharing her story of faith and family, with a dash of humor thrown in.
Many thanks to all who attended and helped make our Garden Party a success. The rain held off and it was a beautiful day to host our volunteers as well as neighbors from the community. We are so thankful to everyone who came to spend time with us, especially Sergeant Dave and Officer Paul from the Grand Rapids Police Department. Our Garden of Life is open to the public and we hope that you come to visit us soon!
In less than a year, we have taken our ultrasound program to a higher level by utilizing our new ultrasound machine and having scheduled ultrasound hours.
Since September, we have scanned 14 women who were facing unexpected pregnancies. After 1 on 1 mentoring and providing a free ultrasound, all 14 women chose to carry to term. The national average for carrying to term after seeing their baby on ultrasound is 75% or 3 out of 4 women. HELP has exceeded the national average with 100% of the women choosing LIFE with 14 babies being saved!!
We will be expanding our ultrasound and medical services-as our outreach increases to the abortion minded and abortion vulnerable women. God has given all of us a responsibility to be His hands and feet by utilizing our gifts and talents. Our team at HELP works closely together from mentoring to ultrasounds. It is proven by the stats that we are impacting these women’s lives. As the saying goes “It takes a village to raise a child.” I say, “It takes a village to save a life.”
Lori Potter RDMS
A Story of Regret……
“…I remember seeing my baby on an ultrasound. The doctor then proceeded to lead me out into the waiting room until she called me back to give me the first abortion pill (mifepristone RU486). I took the pill with no hesitation. I just wanted out of there and didn’t want to think about it ever again. I had to take the second pill the next day so the abortion process would finish…”
This sad story is being repeated more and more due to the easy availability of “medical” abortion. Medical abortion is a two step process, where the first pill is usually given in the abortion clinic, and the woman takes the second pill home to take several hours later. If she takes the second pill, the rest of the story may be like this: a sleepless night of excruciating pain, crying and bleeding, leaving her with a traumatic memory that may haunt her for the rest of her life. We want to make a difference in this matter. There is a medical protocol to try to save the baby when someone changes her mind after the first pill. I am working with others to have the Emergency Abortion Reversal Kit pictured above in PRC’s, emergency rooms, and physician offices around our area. This treatment is a time sensitive matter, as the reversal is most effective if given within 48 hours after the first abortion pill, and includes follow up treatment given throughout the first trimester. If you know of anyone who needs this help, there are caring medical professionals to help. It may not be too late; call us at HELP we can get in touch with the resources available in our area.
By Dr. Kim Barrows
For more information visit