I don’t remember the first time I met my friend Lauren. She has been at the church I go to for longer than I have, so she’s always been “around,” but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that we really connected. She was teaching middle school and having a tough year and while we were both attending a mutual friend’s baby shower we started talking and realized we had a lot in common. Cody & I had her over for dinner along with another teacher friend a couple of months later and it was then that I really got to hear her heart. Surprisingly, it didn’t really have anything to do with teaching.
A handful of months later, she started coming to the small group that my husband and I led and that solidified our friendship. Lauren is an encourager by nature and she loves to have fun. She’s always up for an adventure, but she’s just as happy to meet over coffee and talk about deep things of the heart. By the time she started with our small group, she was working at a local pregnancy center, which was more in line with her passion. As she talked about her work there you could see that there were pieces of it that she really loved, but also pieces she wanted to see change. The longer she worked there, the more a vision of what “could be” settled into her heart.
While this local center was helping women with a lot of practical, tangible needs, much of their work had shifted to helping moms after they’d had a baby by providing clothes, formula, diapers, etc. They were certainly meeting a need, but Lauren’s heart was to meet those moms months earlier… when they were making the critical decision about what to do with their unplanned pregnancy. That’s what Lauren was really passionate about. She wanted to offer hope to women who felt they were in an entirely hopeless situation, and then walk with them through the pregnancy, decisions about what to do with their baby once born, and even after. She wanted the hope of Christ to permeate women’s lives.
You see, Lauren’s own story has a lot to do with her passion. In 1985, her own mother, Ann, found herself facing an unplanned pregnancy. At the time, she was alone, homeless, without a job, and scared of what the future would hold. She knew she had some decisions to make and terminating her pregnancy through abortion was an option. But, the more she wrestled with the idea, the more she realized she wasn’t comfortable with that option. She had been raised in a Christian home, and at this critical juncture, the truths she had been raised with came back to her mind and heart. She decided to keep her baby, and in May, Lauren was born. In a small hospital room, alone and afraid, Ann delivered Lauren and committed to giving her all she had, telling her about Jesus, and fighting for her every chance she had. In 1985, Ann both chose hope and gave hope to her daughter.
Knowing this story and hearing Lauren share her frustrations about the limitations of the pregnancy center she worked in, well, we knew the Lord was up to something. So, when one Sunday night at small group she told us she was quitting her job and was going to focus her efforts on what it would take to start her own pregnancy center, we weren’t surprised. We were expectant. But, we had no idea how quickly God would move.
Literally within a month or so of her decision, God provided incredibly providential meetings and relationships that would help make Lauren’s dream a reality. Savvy businessmen who wanted to help her set up the financial side and file for tax-exempt status, nonprofit leaders who wanted to partner with her, interested churches who wanted to be kept updated, friends who were ready to give financially… it was incredible to see how quickly the initial groundwork for Hope85 was laid. Our small group had front row seats, and when the time came for Lauren to think about a logo, website, general branding, and marketing strategies, I volunteered to help (and volunteered my friend Anna to help too!)
We got to jump in on the ground floor and meet with Lauren to hear even more of her heart and vision about the women she was hoping to serve and what that would look like at each stage of development. In November of 2016, we began to see her vision come to life with a logo, brand colors, and some marketing print pieces. To say we were excited to help in this endeavor was an understatement. We were overjoyed!
Soon thereafter Lauren asked if I would consider being a board member for Hope 85 and I enthusiastically said yes. We had our first board meeting in April of this year, and have continued to see God do big things. Hope85 was officially granted 501(c)3 status by the IRS this summer, and we’ve been dreaming and scheming since!
We kicked off a month-long giving campaign on “Giving Tuesday” the week after Thanksgiving this year. We are praying and asking God to provide $100,000 by the end of December. It’s a big goal, but this money will allow us to officially “hire” Lauren as the Executive Director, and enable Hope85 to rent a physical location that will let us open our doors for limited services to women in the Indianapolis area. Think of all the conversations we’ll be able to have! Think about the high school girl who will be able to come in for a pregnancy test and then be able to talk with a counselor when she finds out she’s pregnant. We can help offer her hope from the VERY BEGINNING.
We’ve already seen God provide just over $20,000 of our goal, which means we’re asking him for 80% of our target in the last half of the month. He’s a big God and we know He is able. Will you be part of what He’s planning for Hope 85? Will you give hope this holiday season?
Check out the Hope85 website to learn more, see a picture of Lauren and her mom, and sign up for our email updates. Or, visit us on Facebook (Hope85 Indy) or Instagram (@hope85indy) to see what we’re up to.