Reviving the circle of life

October 29, 2018 · Posted in Culture and Politics, Delmarva items, Personal stuff · Comments Off on Reviving the circle of life 

Last Thursday night I had the opportunity to assist a great local cause and ministry, the Eastern Shore Pregnancy Center.

Now I’m probably not the best at relating to mothers or fathers-to-be in need, which is among the things they do. But I can laugh with the best of them (and sign a check) and that’s what I did a lot of that special evening – okay, one check but plenty of laughing. It’s something I will get to in due course.

When I last wrote about one of these events three years ago, they had a somewhat different approach to the issue of fundraising and securing a speaker: generally it was a message from someone who combined the desired Biblical message with a significant helping of appeal for donations. That’s not to say it wasn’t a good formula, but perhaps it was a formula getting less and less effective. (Which probably explains in part why I didn’t do a post on the 2016 event, the last time I attended.)

So I liked the change in format as well as location, as they have moved to the more intimate parish hall at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Salisbury. (It also meant the dinner was a lot better, as Black Diamond Catering did a fantastic job.) I’m hoping the results made this nice lady’s ministry a lot easier.

“By the grace of God, at least 60 babies have been saved” in the past year, said ESPC director Jackie Seldon.

The goal was compatible with that which I recalled from previous years, and I made sure to share a little more of those blessings I received this year. What they shared was the testimony of one of their clients and her mentor through the experience, and as Seldon noted the ESPC has now been around long enough that they are beginning to see second-generation client families.

I don’t recall the exact reason I failed to attend last year’s event, but among the things I missed was this gentleman’s debut with the Labor of Love banquet.

Repeat parenting offender and comedian Gordon Douglas was the featured performer.

Once named (with his wife, of course) as a Parent of the Year in Pennsylvania, Gordon Douglas had some unique takes on parenting, and – more importantly – the blessing of being a good and caring person.

The part of the story that captivated me was how he got started in the business of parenting. (The comedy part in Hollywood is interesting, too, but I don’t recall all the names he dropped and that’s not the red meat of this narrative, anyway.) I just hope I’m doing justice to the story in a few hundred words and so-so memory.

As a teenager Gordon was the same rail-thin self he is now, but was not particularly athletic or popular and had an impoverished upbringing because his disabled father could not work. Thus, it was perhaps understandable that Gordon wrote a school paper detailing his questioning why he should go on living when the “best time of his life” was so miserable. What did he have to look forward to?

Perhaps Gordon had a guardian angel, for the teacher grading the paper took him under his wing and gave him the encouragement he needed – not to say that it was all smooth sailing from there, as there were other funny mishaps in his high school days and then his young adult life once he got married. But because he found a mentor at his lowest point, when Gordon got started on his initial career in youth ministry he had business cards with three things: his name, his phone number, and a quarter taped to them. The message was: if you needed someone to talk to, he would be there, day or night. Soon enough a 14-year old with a terrible home life called him up, and when he went to ask the parents if the boy could stay overnight, the parents said, “Keep him.”

So he did. For Gordon and his wife, this boy was the first of many children they took in. Besides, when you desire children and are told you can’t have them, what’s the next best thing? Well, that is, until you have a miracle and don’t stop until you have five.

To make what was a long story much, much shorter: between children, wayward young adults, and even a couple prisoners they’ve taken in from the detention center (“you can’t tell it’s them if you don’t see their ankle bracelets”) there are upwards of two dozen kids they’ve taken care of over the years. Some couples have the baseball batting order, but the Douglases filled out the whole roster.

Needless to say, it was a great story, I also had the pleasure of speaking to him afterward as I offered to make him famous. (Or, I guess, infamous, depending on your perspective of this website.)

Gordon was also a quick change artist. Actually, he had copies of his printed and recorded works on sale, and some folks (myself included) got autographed copies. There’s nothing wrong with some entrepreneurial spirit, and hopefully he’s sold many more books than I have!

It should be noted that Gordon comes by this specialty of assisting pregnancy centers like the ESPC naturally as he served for many years on the board of his local pregnancy center. Now he helps others with his comedic talent, although he pointed out that when he started there were 4,000 Planned Parenthood facilities and 300 pregnancy centers, but now the numbers are becoming reversed, which is a blessing.

I stayed awhile afterward to see if the ESPC made its goal, but had to leave in order to finish one of my other jobs (on deadline writing for The Patriot Post) before I could find out. But if I find out in the coming days what the total was I’ll certainly update the post.

Of course, it doesn’t mean you can’t help them out yourself, as the ESPC definitely serves the least of us, as in the message of Matthew 25:35-40. Or put in a somewhat more secular way: to have the pursuit of happiness you need liberty, but to have liberty you must have life. They’re put in a specific order for a reason, so I encourage the support of these budding lives where I can.

Speaking up for the unborn

There is a group out there called Created Equal that has piqued my interest since they fight for those who truly have no choice because their right to life is denied to them by their mother’s decision to abort her pregnancy. Based out of Columbus, Ohio, they realize that ground zero for their fight will be later this month in Cleveland at the Republican National Convention, so they embarked on a short tour of Ohio to gather support.

The release Created Equal put out about it reminded me again why I’m here on Delmarva, which at least has a little common sense.

On June 16-17, #OperationRNC conducted a state-wide tour of Ohio. Troy Newman of Operation Rescue, Rev. Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, and Mark Harrington of Created Equal were joined by other Ohio pro-life leaders in Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton, Toledo and Cleveland.

Three of the four media coverage items they used were from Toledo: two from television and one by The Blade, which is Toledo’s primary newspaper. (Not to be confused with the Washington Blade, an LGBT-centric publication.) As it was described by The Blade, there were 20 on the pro-life side and 30 on the pro-abortion side. I suppose that’s only fair since Toledo has long since ceded itself to the whims of the Democrat Party and their Planned Parenthood outlet is downtown, not in the suburbs where more of the conservatives live.

But what did the Created Equal side want?

Activists are requesting that $540,000,000 currently given to Planned Parenthood be redirected to 13,000 federally licensed health clinics which provide true comprehensive women’s health care. These clinics provide a greater variety of services and choices to women than Planned Parenthood and are not under federal investigation.

The DNC is calling for a repeal of the Hyde Amendment and instead include the funding of abortion on demand in their party platform. Pro-lifers need to counter by demanding that the GOP defund Planned Parenthood.

So we are not advocating here for overturning Roe v. Wade nor telling Texas to advise the Supreme Court to butt out of their business as they tried to prevent the very coat-hanger, Gosnell-style abortions I thought the pro-choice crowd was also trying to prevent by enhancing standards for facilities where abortions are performed. (Wasn’t the pro-choicers’ mantra “safe, legal, and rare” abortions? They had their wish in Texas.)

All they are asking at this point is to defund an organization that has many (but not all) locations performing abortions, and instead distribute the money to those that provide more comprehensive women’s health services. Given the figures stated, each local organization would receive an average of about $41,000 – for a group like the Eastern Shore Pregnancy Center, that would be a huge boost in enabling them to do more services. (Assuming, of course, they would wish to collect government money – many self-respecting providers make a point of refusing it.)

While Donald Trump has said he will defund Planned Parenthood, he’s in the camp of them not necessarily being the enemy. From February:

Yes, because as long as they do the abortion I am not for funding Planned Parenthood but they do cervical cancer work. They do a lot of good things for women but as long as they’re involved with the abortions, as you know they say it’s 3% of their work, some people say it’s 10%, some people say it’s 8%, I hear all different percentages but it doesn’t matter. As long as they’re involved with abortion, as far as I’m concerned forget it, I wouldn’t fund them regardless. But they do do other good work. You look at cervical cancer. I’ve had women tell me they do some excellent work so I think you also have to put that into account but I would defund Planned Parenthood because of their view and the fact of their work on abortion.

Sorry, I’m not convinced that defunding Planned Parenthood wouldn’t be a bargaining chip for Trump – I was much more comfortable with the pro-life stance of most of the remaining GOP field. Remember, in practically every community PP serves there are other entities providing similar, if not overlapping, services. So why should PP get so much from taxpayers?

Being pro-life is a stance that should unite libertarians and social conservatives: protecting the right to life is not only the Christian thing to do but is also the ultimate in liberty. Indeed, being a parent is also a responsibility but if one isn’t ready to take it on there are other options available which preserve the unborn baby’s life. At least one political party should do even more to relate these irrefutable facts.

The struggle to save babies

October 15, 2015 · Posted in Business and industry, Delmarva items · Comments Off on The struggle to save babies 

Who will stand in the gap? That was the question asked in a presentation by Texas pastor Charles Flowers as he keynoted the eleventh annual Labor of Love fundraising banquet to benefit the Eastern Shore Pregnancy Center. Despite being plagued by some technical gremlins, Flowers presented a message mainly based on Proverbs 24:11, which oddly enough was the same verse used by Cathy Keim in her post the other day.

Flowers was introduced by local pastor David Diskin, who appealed to Christians to stand against abortion. We have to support life, Diskin added, despite living in a nation that overall has “slapped the hand of God.”

Pastor Flowers agreed. “We are in a day of adversity,” said Flowers, before asking who would deliver those drawn to death. He noted that the government had no interest in it, considering they were giving half a billion dollars to Planned Parenthood.

And regardless of the educators present that Flowers called “beacons of light” in our public schools, theirs was a “Godless field” as well. Even churches couldn’t fill the need as they were being pulled in many directions in their ministry. It was up to us to, as he put it, “trade babies for paper.”

Now before I continue with Pastor Flowers, it’s worth stating that the ESPC served over 350 women last year. Director Jackie Seldon relayed the story of one young woman and her boyfriend who were set on terminating the pregnancy until they saw the ultrasound. She changed her mind, and the boyfriend turned from passive observer to a guy who wanted a girl “so I can spoil her.” That’s the sort of success story they managed to achieve 50 times in the last year and their goal for this coming year was to make it to 85.

So the calculation of the paper needed to trade for each baby was $1,200. It’s a goal of about $100,000 overall.

Thus, despite the fact the government was against us, explained Flowers, we were called upon to answer to a higher law even at the price of civil disobedience. He cited the Hebrew midwives Shiphrah and Puah, who fibbed in Exodus 1:19 that Hebrew women were stronger and delivered babies more quickly than Egyptian women, thus they could not follow Pharaoh’s order to execute Hebrew boys. “God places the value of life extremely high,” added Flowers, and challenged us to do the same.

There’s no doubt that in our secular society, where a child is but an expression of “choice” rather than a living human for whom the mother and father should take responsibility and (hopefully) bring up in a Godly manner, many have strayed from assigning a high value to life. There were close to 200 people at the dinner, but that is a small portion of the local population – I pray it’s but a small fraction of those around here who value life.

Even without the visual aid, Flowers illustrated the impact of nearly 60 million abortions. As he read off a list of states, he asked everyone who was born there or had parents or grandparents from there to stand. The last one was Maryland, so most stood. Regardless, if you took the 25 smallest states in population and imagined them wiped out, you’ve reached the number of babies aborted in the country since Roe v. Wade. (In political terms, it’s generally those states that only have 3 to 8 electoral votes. Those who support Planned Parenthood may not be against that since the bulk are loyal to the GOP.)

As I stated above, the goal is an ambitious one. We didn’t get there tonight, but if you count what the sponsors gave (nearly $8,000 based on the minimums listed in the program) and the amount donated and pledged tonight, they made significant progress of over $63,000. At $1,200 per, they have already made their budget for saving 50 babies, but more can and should be done.

If you are pro-life like me, or just want to assist a noble cause, the ESPC is always looking for both compassionate volunteers who can spare time as well as those who want to trade paper for babies. It may not be the most popular or politically correct cause, but it is a rightful one.

Pro-life community shows its support

March 15, 2015 · Posted in Delmarva items, Personal stuff · Comments Off on Pro-life community shows its support 

Last night supporters of the Eastern Shore Pregnancy Center turned out in force to assist the organization with its 2015 goals. The occasion was the first annual spring coffeehouse and benefit concert fundraiser, held at Providence Presbyterian Church.

Youth was the rule for the music at this event, beginning with an a capella group of young children called Rivers of Living Water and also featuring a group of 13-year-old triplets called (naturally enough) Triple Praise. Both sang spirituals and hymns, with Triple Praise employing recorded background music.

Even the adult groups tended to be on the youthful side, with Beauty for Ashes dedicating songs to their young children featured in the slide show that was playing behind them.

The married couple leading this group has a pair of three-year-old twin girls.

Similarly, Steve and Olivia (or Liv and Steve, as they billed themselves) are also recent parents. This shot also gives you an idea of how many were there – my guess is about 150 people.

In their own way, all four groups were entertaining although none of them played more than a handful of songs. The event was only a couple hours long and it also featured testimony from a young parent of three named Danaica Pierrot as well as remarks from ESPC Executive Director Jacquelyn Seldon.

Seldon was pleased about the progress the ESPC has made since acquiring a sonogram unit last year, but outlined a couple of worthy goals for this year: spreading the message on billboards near local university campuses in order to reach college-age prospective parents, and following up on the permission they were granted by the Wicomico County Board of Education to promote their services in the local high schools.

Of course, this event was also serving as a fundraiser. And while there were envelopes and donation slips on each table, the opportunity was also there to bid on a number of interesting, intriguing, and useful items. This was just one of three long tables the group had, with 35 different lots up for bids.

With the silent auction and the table top appeals, I’m pleased to report the event raised over $4,000 for the ESPC. But then that’s not to say they won’t take donations outside the event as well, and they definitely can use them because the need is there. They’re not getting even a tiny fraction of the $528 million Planned Parenthood received from government, in part as PP “fought abortion stigma in popular culture.”

I’m probably injecting far more politics in this report than many would feel comfortable with, for it was truly an apolitical event. Yet I would wager that most of those attending last night’s benefit would not participate in that “stigma” but would instead encourage and counsel those who made that choice. For those who are expecting, though, the range of options is much larger than groups like Planned Parenthood would have you believe, and the worthy goal of the ESPC is to bring that number who choose abortion in the Salisbury region down from its present 300 or so to as few as possible.

ESPC sets another fundraising benefit

February 28, 2015 · Posted in Delmarva items · Comments Off on ESPC sets another fundraising benefit 

I’m hoping this will work as a sidebar ad and be legible (as a public service) but in case that doesn’t work out:

I was alerted to this by my cohort Cathy Keim, who has been active in the pro-life community for some time. You may recall I was her guest at an ESPC benefit last fall. While the fundraiser did quite well, the need is always there so the Eastern Shore Pregnancy Center is back at it again with a lower-key event they call the Celebrate Life Benefit Concert that seems like it will be a good time with coffee, dessert, music, and fellowship.

In terms of fundraising strategy, this seems like a good time to look for funding as it’s been awhile since their annual dinner and two events a year is optimal. And you know it’s for a worthy cause. I hope to see you all there.

The ‘midst of a battle for innocent lives’

October 23, 2014 · Posted in Delmarva items, State of Conservatism · 2 Comments 

Good news delayed is not good news denied. So it is with the annual Labor of Love dinner for the Eastern Shore Pregnancy Center.

And even though I found out Maryland was second in the nation in abortions per capita, ESPC Director Jacquelyn Seldon noted that we have seen our share of success stories as well. Her sentiment, though, was that “we no longer want to be the best-kept secret in town.” It was part of a two-hour presentation which featured prayer, praise, and pledges.

Delegate Mike McDermott, who made brief and unscheduled remarks at the gathering, noted for his part that if legislators in Annapolis respected life, “they would respect it all the way through.”

20141016_213309“We need more men and women that would choose life,” McDermott added. He was one of a handful of local politicians who attended; a number that was cut down somewhat by a competing event at the same facility. On another day I would have liked to attend that event, but this was a day to celebrate life.

I think the state of Maryland could do a lot more without impeding the so-called “right to privacy” for those who wish to dispose of their unborn fetuses, known in this gathering as God’s children. Something the ESPC can now provide is a sonogram so parents can see their developing offspring – those in favor of abortion don’t want mothers to see these because they know the choice will often be life rather than death.

The keynote speaker was Susan Baldwin, who serves as Executive Director of the Women’s Resource Center of Mobile, Alabama. Baldwin was pleased to be “in a room full of mountain movers…God is enlarging his territory.” But she spoke of the battle for life being one that wasn’t about politics, but in the hearts of men and women.

After watching a short video presentation pointing out our nation had suffered 40 times the number of casualties of all our wars thanks to legalized abortion (in just 1/6 of the time), we learned that a Vietnam Memorial-style wall would have to span 87 miles to cover all the unborn who were aborted. 33,000 of those abortions were performed each year in Maryland, a fact which made Baldwin ask, “what must our Father think?”

As for what churches think, Baldwin complained that 95% of them won’t preach on the sanctity of life. But while the ESPC is not a church, “this is a front line ministry,” said Baldwin. She termed this “holocaust of the unborn” as a dark period of our history. We need to turn this culture of death into a culture of life, she concluded.

One of her tasks was to help the ESPC raise money, which was the idea behind enlisting The Great Turnaround to help. Baldwin had some assistants distribute pledge envelopes, which those in attendance were asked to fill out with an annual pledge amount. With this system, Baldwin promised we would know how much was raised for the evening and, as promised, in the end we learned that the dinner raised $50,730 for the ESPC. Of course, we don’t know how much this dinner cannibalized their other annual giving but the amount raised for the evening was outstanding.

These were some of the people who joined me at my table: Tyler Harwood (left), me, Cathy Keim (who was gracious enough to invite me), Greg Belcher, and M.J. Caldwell. Besides the five of us, there were over 200 people who attended the dinner, so I appreciate the invitation. It was a worthwhile event and reminded me that I’m on the right side of the pro-life argument.

Update: My total was $19 high, so I revised it. And in a subsequent release, Seldon added:

Jacquelyn Seldon, director of the Eastern Shore Pregnancy Center, said the financial contributions were crucial for the not-for-profit organization. “All our services are given free of charge,” she noted. “We now provide ultrasound services and these funds will allow us to serve more individuals at no cost.”

Of course, if someone wants to add that $19 to the kitty, they can call them at (410) 546-5433 or write then at 1300 S. Division Street, Suite C, Salisbury, MD 21801.

Time for a turnaround

October 8, 2014 · Posted in Business and industry, Delmarva items, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Time for a turnaround 

As most of my readers know, I fall on the pro-life side of the abortion issue spectrum. The reason is relatively simple: if one is to believe that life is one of our inalienable rights, endowed by our Creator as spelled out in the Declaration of Independence, then the right to life trumps the desire of the mother and her so-called “right to privacy” in making a choice to abort a pregnancy.

I’m quite aware not all pregnancies are planned, and I’m also cognizant of the reality that some pregnancies result from rape or incest. Nor am I the type who would take away birth control drugs, since there is a need for some women to take them for medical purposes unrelated to preventing pregnancy. On the other hand, I believe Hobby Lobby has a legitimate case in wishing to withhold insurance funding for certain types of pharmaceuticals associated with abortions. That’s not the government’s business.

But nor is it the federal government’s business to prohibit abortions, so I would not support a Constitutional ban simply because, if anything, it should be a state-by-state decision.

So I’m not sure quite how I would fit in with those who will be attending a Labor of Love dinner next week to benefit the Eastern Shore Pregnancy Center, but I think they’ll take me as I am. Billed as “The Great Turnaround Event,” the featured speaker will be Susan Baldwin of the Women’s Resource Center of Mobile, Alabama. As ESPC Executive Director Jacquelyn Seldon puts it:

We are pleased to be partnering with The Great Turnaround, an organization dedicated to serving pregnancy centers around the country whose founder and president is Dr. Bruce Wilkinson (best-selling author of The Prayer of Jabez and Founder of Walk Thru the Bible). His organization is helping to raise $100,000,000 collectively for pregnancy centers in the United States. God’s presence and blessing has been evident at every fundraising event his organization has partnered with.

The ESPC also describes its mission:

Our mission is still to help the smallest among us by giving women and men counseling and encouragement to choose life.  We work to equip our clients with parenting skills and pre-marital counseling when appropriate.  Last year we met a long term goal by acquiring our own ultrasound machine.  We are now able to offer free ultrasounds to expectant mothers.  We know from experience that once a mom sees her infant in the womb, she is much less likely to choose to abort.

That last sentence is a key, which is why pro-abortion groups argue that ultrasounds are unnecessary. But Maryland is not one of the states which requires this. Another tactic which has tried and failed in Maryland is to require abortion clinics to fully match the standard of ambulatory surgical centers, most recently applied in Texas. The Huffington Post whines about that law here, as did one provider when the law was being discussed. But the idea is to try and prevent another Kermit Gosnell situation.

It’s a cause worth fighting for legislatively, but in the meantime we should support the worthy cause of the ESPC by attending this Labor of Love dinner. It will be held Thursday, October 16 at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center, with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. There’s a long hill to climb in making Maryland more of a pro-life friendly state, so groups like the ESPC have an important role to play in promoting the family.

A return

October 1, 2014 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2014, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on A return 

I wanted to remind people that I do take advertising, and last night I placed the return of District 38C candidate Mary Beth Carozza on site. It brings up the point that three candidates now believe advertising on monologue is an effective campaign tool, so hopefully after the election businesses will follow.

But since I have the floor I may as well bring up a few other upcoming events.

For example, a number of candidates – both Republican and Democrat – will be making their case to SU students (and whoever else wants to hear) at Red Square at Salisbury University tomorrow, October 2. I believe the hours are 10 to 2, although I’ve also seen 11 to 2. Eight years ago I covered a similar event there, but this time it will be during the week so participation should be better. We’ll find out.

Then this Saturday is Wicomico County’s Super Saturday, where an extra push will be made for our local Republican candidates. The culmination of that day will be a Fall Harvest Party for District 38B candidate Carl Anderton, with guest speaker Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio. That runs from 5-8 p.m.

A few days later, Republican County Executive candidate Bob Culver is having a aptly-named “Pull the Pork Party” at the Ward Museum on October 14 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Speaking of fundraisers, this site is a relatively informative one for upcoming political fundraisers around the state. The reason I bring them up is because Jim Mathias last night had a high-dollar fundraiser at Brew River which was assisted by our “incumbent protection” friends across the bridge at Rice Consulting. Earlier that morning, Norm Conway had a high-dollar fundraiser, also through Rice Consulting, in his real district with his true constituents – downtown Annapolis at the Calvert House. Next week he will be slumming with the rest of us in Willards (which is now also outside his district) but we know where his loyalties lie now, as the people of his own district must not be good enough for supporting Norm to the degree in which he’s accustomed. But somehow I think he’s getting the Willards Lions Club as an in-kind donation, although the rest of us are paying.

Now for something a little more non-political. I’m supposed to get a little more about this in coming days, but I was encouraged to mention that the Eastern Shore Pregnancy Center is hosting their Tenth Annual Labor of Love fundraising banquet on October 16 at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center the evening of October 16.

October will be a busy, busy month.

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