What do Lifeline Pregnancy Help Clinic and I have in common? Twenty years ago, we were just getting started. While Lifeline was in its early stages, I was toddling around as a two-and-a-half year old. I have not had the privilege of watching Lifeline grow up, so I interviewed one woman who has. Meet Karen, one of Lifeline’s faithful volunteers.
Karen started volunteering with what we now know as Lifeline about twenty years ago when she first saw a billboard for Birthright. As a full-time working mom with kids, she did her part by washing baby clothes for the clinic at night. “The clothes were kept in the dungeon,” she said. “All we had was a tiny room back then.”
But she saw Lifeline go from a “dungeon” to a bigger place, and then an even bigger place, and then to where it is now in its very own custom-designed building. “I’ve seen the programs grow. There was never a Dadline, even the boutique was so tiny we could hardly put anything in it,” Karen beamed. “Breanne has done such a good job, she really put us on the map. It’s fun to watch all the new ideas come out. I remember when they got the ultrasound — that changed everything.”
To this day, Karen reigns empress of the boutique. Every week, she transforms bags and bags of donated clothes into rack-ready treasures for new parents to take home for their babies. Washing, ironing, hanging, and displaying: the boutique would not be the beautiful resource it is without her labor. After our clients give birth, Karen puts together a beautiful gift basket of clothes and supplies for mom and baby to take home. When she’s not prepping the boutique, Karen will do anything she can to help, whether that’s counting change from our Baby Bottle Blessing fundraiser or making decorations for the banquet or baking all kinds of too-good-to-be-true desserts for the staff. Executive director Breanne Hunt said it right: “I don’t know what we’d do without Karen.”
Why does Karen spend her free time this way? “Because I’m retired,” she said, telling it like it is. (For those who don’t know, Karen’s other talent is her expert bluntness.) Going a little deeper, she expressed her heart for this ministry. “I picked Lifeline to volunteer for in my retirement because I believed so much in what we do. And we adopted our children, and to think of them having been aborted is just beyond something I could even contemplate.” For Karen, Lifeline is more than just a clinic–it’s personal, a vessel through which God saves and transforms lives.
Karen has a special message for all the other retired folks out there. “In the Bible people tell me the word ‘retirement’ isn’t in there, but it is,” she said, “because the Levites were supposed to retire when they were fifty. But they were still supposed to work. They weren’t supposed to be doing those heavy sacrifices, but they were still supposed to be working. So I really feel like any believer is supposed to keep working when they retire, and to find the things that meet their own gifts and abilities and not just quit and play golf.”
She paused. “Though I wouldn’t play golf,” she found it important to add. “I don’t like golf.” Well put.
Karen reminds us all that we’re always on mission. Ministry is everywhere, anytime. Whether you’re about as young as Lifeline or you’re trying to figure out how to spend your retirement, look around you and see where your unique gifts are needed. Who knows? Maybe twenty years from now you’ll be reflecting on the transformation God has done in, around, and through you.
By Kathryn Farmer