At my first training session a speaker called our Birthright House “holy ground.” Spiritually that describes the feelings I have about the Birthright mission. When we listen—just listen—to a person who is desperate; give maternity clothes to a mom; inform about housing, medical care, schooling; we are doing these things surrounded by holy ground.
Hearing those words describe something I have been doing for a long while and made me tear up. I started volunteering in my late 20’s at Birthright shortly after Roe vs. Wade. We were not as organized back then, but our two leaders knew how to communicate! Our little house sometimes seemed like a busy gathering place. Mostly gals coming and going, often with one or more kids in tow. We would discuss different ways to convince a person to let us help instead of abort. And doing a pregnancy test felt way important.
We had no driveway to park so I would talk to God about a parking space all the way since I brought my 2 little boys and a portable TV with me. They would nap in the playpen upstairs and them watch Sesame Street while I answered the phone. Angels watching over me, I guess. Soon a third baby came along, and my volunteer life had to go.
Now 40 years later and finally retired from teaching, I got a pretty clear calling. I went to Joan Monaghan’s funeral, and there were a few gals I knew from the old days. They introduced me to about 10 of the many others who had joined the Birthright family.
Having cleaned out closets and organized shelves, drawers, etc. the mess from the working days was finally manageable. I had been thinking it was finally time to do some volunteering. There was a clear message to me from my friend. I was supposed to take her now empty place at Birthright. She had been a volunteer for about 25 years.
Being a Birthright volunteer makes you feel as if you are sending good out into the world. So many like to say that pro-life people only care that the babies are born, but don’t take care of them after. I know they are referring to the pro-life demands having to do with how government money is spent. However, we do take care of them after. Moms and/or sometimes dads—call and come frequently for assistance for their newborns and/toddlers. We have so many resources we refer to, and these many organizations care about babies. There was a song from many years ago that said “if everyone lit just one little candle, what a ‘great’ world it would be.” A hundred volunteers—a hundred candles lit. A thousand volunteers…lots of light!!
Probably the most important part of our work involves giving emotional support to those who need it. Just listening to folks who are in varying degrees of desperation is one of the most valuable ways we get to help. Listen, commiserate, be a friend to someone who has no one else can be sad., but never hard. We can help them with their present concerns and to plan for the future. I’m hoping this volunteering is a huge piece of my ticket into Heaven. And it is pretty heartwarming to be told thank you so much for all your help; you will be in my prayers; you all are so kind to do this; etc. Can’t lie. Makes me feel pretty good.
So now I get to be surrounded by holy ground once a week—constantly meeting the most special people who volunteer or come for some kind of support.
How lucky can a person get!! I just let God know he needs to put the right words in my mouth and voila “Hello. This is Susie at Birthright.”
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–By Susan Hodes | Susan and her husband, Steve, live in Leawood, Kansas. They are parents of Brian, Steve, Cari and Kate and grandparents to 15. Birthright is truly blessed to have her on the schedule each week.