After the state of Texas implemented the new heart rate law, SB8, in September, an even greater need for pregnancy support organizations was created. Add to that the influx of migrants from Mexico, Central and South America, and border communities like Laredo have seen an even greater need for pregnancy assistance. Heartbeat International and a Texas support organization responded in partnership to help the Laredo Life Pregnancy Center.
The Pregnancy Center has recently undergone a change of leadership, and thanks to several people and organizations, including Heartbeat, the center has been raised from almost its ashes.
âWe were only open four hours a week, serving only three to five women,â said former executive director Sandy Nava, who resigned late last month. âWe saw 15 to 20 women a week.
Become a fire
COVID, and Nava’s personal life, had an impact on the hours of operation and, therefore, on the reach of the center. Help from Heartbeat and the Pregnancy Outpost of South Texas (POST) and a new executive director were the keys needed to turn the ashes into fire. Nava believes the new Texas law will increase the number of women coming to the center. She also believes the center will be better positioned to meet increased needs with new leadership and increased resources.
âWomen here don’t have to go far (for an abortion), so we have to be here to intercept them before they make that choice,â she said, âto educate them and really love them. I’m so happy that we have a new director now, and she’s here 100%, and she’s dedicating that time and reaching out to these women.
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As the United States Supreme Court deliberates on Texas law after hear the arguments of two trials November 1, Laredo Life Pregnancy Center began receiving financial assistance through POST and resources from Heartbeat International.
These resources include two years of website services through Extend Web Services; a database called Next Level Center Management Solutions which collects information on clients, donors and volunteers; and online, print, and âin-depthâ training opportunities, among other resources, said Sara Littlefield, Heartbeat Life Start-Up Grants Program Specialist.
âThe Coalition (POST) saw this need to support the center so that it could thrive and know about the Life Launch Grant program and knew that Heartbeat was working with centers,â Littlefield said. âThis is a really unique situation – the Laredo center existed in this city but is understaffed and underfunded and needs additional support. The city really needs this pregnancy center. They serve on both sides (of the border).
The Life Launch Grant program is specially designed for underserved areas or those targeted by abortion providers. Resources offered by Heartbeat are valued at $ 10,000, Littlefield said, with matching funds from the center which, in this case, were replenished by POST stepping up its aid.
âWe have seen the benefit of considering this center for these in-kind resources in particular,â said Littlefield, âespecially as they are working with this coalition on a funding front. We were eager to seize this opportunity. to see how we could help, and it was a good choice. â
âLaredo really needs this pregnancy help,â she said. âIt’s an underserved community. They are in a season of change and growth. Life Launch was a good resource for this organization to consider.
Heartbeat president Jor-El Godsey agreed.
âWe realize the need has been great and is now even greater in this particular community,â Godsey said. âBeing the border town that it is, it is truly a place that cannot be left to itself. From what I understand from the economic conditions, he needs the help that we have given in other communities, and we saw an opportunity.â¦ â
âThese ‘in-depth’ training opportunities are invaluable,â added Littlefield. âWhen you have a team that is starting up, or in this case reorganizing itself with new management, a new general manager, there is a need for training. All of this is included in the Life Launch Grant Program.
Put on fire
Cynthia Garduno was born in Laredo, but later her parents decided to move to Mexico. Her father died when she was 14, and when Cynthia was a late teenager, she returned to Laredo. The bilingual woman is the new executive director of the Laredo Life Pregnancy Center.
âIt’s definitely my calling to serve and help people,â said Garduno, who is trained in psychology, counseling and social work. âI realize that there is a great lack of help for women here in my community. I want to reach as many people as possible and help them.
She plans to network in the community, meeting with church pastors and leaders from various organizations.
âI want to make sure they know us,â she said. “One of my main goals is to serve my community, to be able to unite my community for the purpose of pro-life and our ministry.”
It started less than two weeks after she took on the leadership role. On October 30, the Laredo Life Pregnancy Center hosted a Celebrate Life event, offering buckets full of items for women to use in their homes.
Garduno said she has several goals for the future, including transforming the resource center into a medical facility, offering pregnancy tests and ultrasounds provided by professional nurses. She knows the process will take time, but she is dedicated to the cause.
âIt’s a lot of work,â she says. âI want to learn, and I want to learn everything with excellence. I am willing and ready to learn! I am ready to adapt to change and am ready to work hard. I want to serve my community, moms and babies.
She recognizes that the help from POST and Heartbeat will benefit not only herself, but also the community of Laredo and its nearly 280,000 people.
âWe will be able to bring in paid staff and we will be able to invest in opportunities to be more open, 8 to 5, Monday through Friday,â Garduno said. âIt will bring in a lot of people who need help. We will also be able to do more collections, such as diaper drives, milk drives, whatever the needs, and reach out more to our community. It will take time, but having a solid, solid foundation … will lead us to what we need to become. “
Invest in the needs of the community
Godsey considers Heartbeat and POST’s investment in the community to be essential.
âWe know the need is there in Laredo and that need will only grow,â he said. âWhat we want is a healthy organization that has a better foundation to serve the community and grow as the needs increase. “
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âEven though there are 2,750 pregnancy centers across the country, there are many counties and regions where the gap between pregnancy centers is large, even in areas with high population density,â Godsey said. . âThere are areas that are significantly under-represented. “
His keynote speech at the Heartbeat conference earlier this year included the idea of ââthe need for âmore people, more places and more pathsâ. The Life Launch Grant program is a way to âsee the visionâ for that, to fill those gaps and to help pregnancy centers get into areas of great need, he said. The target was 50 new centers in five years. Now, however, “we don’t want to limit” that number, Godsey said.
“We are on the right track for this (50 in five years),” he said. âWe can easily see it as 60 out of six or 70 out of seven, or more, because we have the opportunity for people to see the vision and join with us in terms of the partnership from a donor perspective. We are grateful that we can take advantage of this in Laredo.
Editor’s Note: Heartbeat International manages the latest news on pregnancy aid.