Our main mission is to assist needy pregnant women and needy families with young children. We provide caring support and assistance, based on the specific needs of each family. These generally include clothing, baby and children's equipment, diapers, toys, delivery to many families, and some food, rental and/or utility bill assistance. We provide referrals to other agencies for additional assistance. Another part of our mission is to provide accurate information and options counseling to pregnant women who call unsure about whether they will parent, place for adoption or abort. We offer assistance with parenting or placing for adoption if they choose one of these options.
Heartbeat was begun in 1993 by a group of lay Catholics to provide information and assistance to women in crisis pregnancies, hoping to encourage more to choose to parent or place for adoption. Heartbeat was incorporated in 1997. Since that time, our focus and mission have grown and expanded. Many of the pregnant women who contact us now have already decided to parent their children. Other families contact us after their babies are born, referred by friends or staff persons from charitable or government agencies or from hospitals. Some pregnant women call us looking for information about their options. We provide accurate information and offer caring assistance for families parenting their children or placing babies for adoption. Often pregnant women are relieved to find that there actually are people who want to help and subsequently choose to parent their babies. We provide an incredible amount of help to families who contact us. We provide friendship, maternity and children's clothing, diapers, baby equipment and sometimes food and occasional help with rent and/or utility bills. We are helping more and more families each year. Agencies that refer families to us include Healthy Families, WIC, Centerboard, an organization that operates several teen parenting shelters, Department of Transitional Assistance, Lynn Community Health Center, Catholic Charities, Lynn Economic Opportunity (LEO) Headstart, Aspire in Lynn, Boston Medical Center, several charitable agencies in Lowell and Somerville and The Community Life Center in Burlington. Families we service find caring people and the assistance they need and leave encouraged and more hopeful! Many rave to us and others about the wonderful, caring help we provide to them!
1. We assisted 410 needy families with their babies born during 2018, providing much needed clothing, baby equipment, diapers, blankets and other requested items, along with encouragement and caring.
2. We provided caring assistance to several hundred additional needy families, many whose babies we helped in previous years, providing clothing, toys, some diapers and wipes, some food and bill assistance and requested baby and children's equipment.
3. With the help of several Hispanic volunteers who interpret for us and with referrals from Healthy Families and other agencies, we have served more Hispanic families during the past year and served them more effectively. We have also assisted families who speak Arabic or Haitian Creole with the help of volunteer interpreters.
4. Our volunteers have done an admirable job providing caring and support for many families, providing donated items and stretching our relatively small income to provide many new baby items purchased at warehouse or clearance prices or with discounts or coupons.
1. Our most pressing need is for funds to assist so many additional families with baby and children's equipment and clothing. We try to provide each needy family with a car seat, a stroller and a pack and play with bassinet for the baby to sleep in, along with much clothing, blankets and other needed baby items. We would like to be able to assist with high chairs, as well. Approx. $400. per family would help the families much more effectively. While we raised more funds during 2018 than in 2017, we did not raise as much as we had to spend. We need an additional $30,000. to enable us to provide the needed baby equipment and clothing.
2. The next pressing need is for funds to provide diapers and pull-ups for families who cannot afford them. An additional $10,000. would help us do this.
3. We also need additional funding to assist families with occasional gift cards to grocery stores for emergency food needs. About $5,000. would enable us to provide this help.
4. Another pressing need is for funding to help families with transportation expenses, and the expense of delivering needed items to families with no transportation. This includes a need for gas cards and help with occasional repairs and insurance costs. $3,000 would help with this.
5. We need more volunteers, including a co-director or assistant director, others to assist with fund-raising, some to help assemble items for families and sort donated items and some to help deliver items. We added new volunteers this past year, but need more, especially for deliveries, fundraising and administrative assistance.
We are distinctive in that we provide needy families maternity clothing, baby and children's clothing, blankets and baby equipment in a friendly, caring way. The families we serve are very low-income. Most are single-parent families. A significant number live in shelters or temporary shelter apartments. We help parents to provide what their children need and encourage caring, effective parenting. After beginning to help the families when they are expecting or have young babies, we continue to help them as needed. We encourage good nutrition and provide some food assistance when needed. We provide children's books and encourage parents to read to their children. We deliver to many families who have no way to come to us. Parents often cry tears of joy when they receive the much needed assistance from our caring volunteers.
Board Chair Statement
We have been successful in recruiting and keeping many of the volunteers. We need a balance of women and some men to accomplish the many hands-on activities of sorting, preparing and assembling items needed by the families. We have two churches who have hosted Christmas giving trees and have partnered with Toys for Tots to assist many families before Christmas. We have recruited a few more people to help with delivering to families but could use more. A new volunteer has been providing a great deal of administrative assistance. Many people are committed to helping the families we serve with donations of gently used items and with monetary donations! There are many long-term supporters. We have recently had several additional churches hold fundraisers to assist this ministry and hope they will continue to help with yearly fundraisers. We have recruited a new secretary for our board and are very happy with her vitality and commitment!
I began volunteering at Heartbeat in 2002 when I was woken up several nights with the distinct understanding that God wanted me to leave my part-time teaching job and volunteer full-time at Heartbeat. My responsibilities have increased over the years. A few years later I took over the management of the ministry. The ministry has grown since that time and is more challenging than ever! I like a meaningful, purposeful challenge, though it can be overwhelming at times. I would love to find help with the management parts of the ministry.