By Gayle Irwin
Nafisa Kennedy could have been a statistic. Her parents chose parenting over abortion, and today as of the director for the only 24/7 pro-life contact center in the U.S. Kennedy helps frontline phone consultants serve women who find themselves in similar situations as her parents.
“My own start in life was to a 20-year-old mother and 23-year-old father who were encouraged to choose abortion by some in their periphery, but instead chose to give me life,” Kennedy wrote of her own story. “This has been a strong motivator for my personal stand for life.”
She began her career with Option Line as a consultant while attending college. Heartbeat International, the largest network of pregnancy help in the U.S. and globally, manages Option Line.
Kennedy remembers one phone caller in which she also learned the outcome of helping that client, who had found Option Line through an online search.
“We spoke for a few minutes,” Kennedy recalled. “She was afraid she wouldn’t have what she needed for the baby, concerned that she wouldn’t be a good mom because she was so young, and she wasn’t sure if the baby’s father would want to be involved.”
“In her heart, she was just yearning for someone to tell her she could do it, a voice to cheer her on, and to know about resources that could help some of her practical needs,” Kennedy said. “I was so honored to be that voice.”
Kennedy told the caller about pregnancy help centers and the resources they provide women, and she directed her to a center in the woman’s area.
“She asked for my name, which I gave her,” said Kennedy. “And as we ended the call, I invited her to reach out again if she needed anything else.”
“In July of that year, we received the most delightful email,” she said. “(The woman) wrote a simple message, ‘I called you guys months ago, and Nafisa was so helpful. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I just had my son, and I couldn’t be happier that he’s here! Thank you!’ An image was attached of a young, excited mom holding her sweet, smiling baby.”
Two decades of serving women in need
Kennedy celebrates not only the Option Line anniversary, but her own with Heartbeat. She began her work in February 2006, and in February 2017, she took the helm as Option Line director. One of her children has a February birthday as well.
“We love February!” she said.
As director, she learns of opportunities that Option Line consultants have to help women who experience unplanned pregnancies. For example, a call that happened last December came from a woman who was on hold with Planned Parenthood via a second line.
“She had already been on hold for seven minutes with them when she was doing a Google search and found us,” Kennedy said. “She called (Option Line) and received an answer within 30 seconds.
“It’s very rewarding to see that happen,” said Kennedy. “One of my roles now is making sure things run efficiently, that we’re using the right tools, and that we give them what they need quickly.”
“Planned Parenthood never got back to the caller during the entire time she spoke with the Option Line consultant,” she said. ‘The consultant was able to connect the caller with a pregnancy help center in her area.”
Option Line calls generally take two or three minutes, Kennedy said.
“It’s a live transfer (so) we know she was able to find life-affirming support right when she needed it,” she said. “This story refilled my tank and helps me do what I do, continuing to equip my team to be available 24/7 and have the skills to interact and help women understand the value of pregnancy help organizations.”
Approximately 1,100 connects take place daily, through phone calls, text messages, and chat functions, and data from the Option Line website indicates many women also find pro-life pregnancy help centers without connecting with consultants.
“We don’t often get to see the fruit of our work,” Kennedy told Pregnancy Help News. “We are seed planters – that’s what we do at Option Line … and we are trusting the Lord to see to the growth.”
She estimates she herself has helped 200,000 people during the past 17 years.
Option Line and APR
Abortion Pill Reversal (APR) contacts also come via Option Line. Heartbeat International took over the role of providing help to women seeking to stop the process of the abortion in 2018 and now manages the Abortion Pill Rescue® Network (APRN)
“Abortion Pill Reversal came to Heartbeat in part because we have the hotline and we could take calls 24/7,” Kennedy said. “We already had that built in; we didn’t have to start from scratch.”
Option Line consultants provide hope for APR callers as well.
“Our role is to plant a seed a hope for that woman who has just taken the abortion pill,” Kennedy said. “To let her know that it may be possible to reverse the effects of the abortion pill, and then get her connected to our health care team, which can give her support as she starts the (reversal) process. Option Line serves as triage for those calls.”
That care team, comprised of nurses, calls the woman back within an hour.
“We’re able to make sure she gets that connection (in a timely manner),” Kennedy said. “It’s been working great, and we’re really blessed to be a part of it. Some of the most meaningful interactions for our team now are those abortion pill rescue calls. It’s a huge blessing to be a part of that work.”
She and her team of consultants often hear stories of women who have gone through the entire reversal process and their babies are saved.
“We see the calendars that Heartbeat produces with all those babies that have been saved, said Kennedy. “It’s such a gift to be able to see that. We’re really grateful to have the opportunity to touch more lives.”
Connected by technology and innovation
Twenty-four consultants work the Option Line; some are full-time and others part-time. Depending on the volume of contacts, two to 10 will work simultaneously, similar to a call center.
“Option Line is a ministry but it’s also a call center, so we need to function as a call center,” Kennedy said.
Because many of the consultants work remotely, she and her team could not have a 20th anniversary celebration together, so small cakes were sent to all the Option Line workers in honor of the occasion. They do virtual gatherings once a quarter so Kennedy said the next quarterly meeting will celebrate and acknowledge this milestone.
She has experienced many changes during the 17 years she has served with Option Line, especially in the aspect of technology.
As the director, she is in charge of technology developments and providing tools and processes to help the consultants more efficiently and effectively help the women who contact Option Line. She and her team continually look for these opportunities to remain in the state of the art for contact centers.
“All about people”
As psychology major in college, Kennedy said that 17 years ago she wasn’t sure she would like to talk on the phone as a career, but she has definitely applied her education to her work experience.
“Psychology is all about people,” Kennedy said. “The things that motivated me to pursue a degree in psychology were helping people and understanding people better and loving them well, and those are the same things that motivate me at Option Line.:
“My heart is for people, and helping them,” she said.
“There are so many things I love about my role (as director),” Kennedy added.
“The people are always going to be the best thing about what we do,” she said. “I love being on the hotline still.”
“And the people that I work with, the women who do this work, they’re so filled with the Spirit of God and so loving,” said Kennedy. “I feel privileged to serve alongside them.”
“I’m really humbled to lead them,” she said. “I feel so grateful that we’ve been serving women for 20 years, and I’m looking forward to however many more decades the Lord gives us in this work.”
Editor’s note: Heartbeat International manages Pregnancy Help News where this first appeared. Reposted with permission.