Dear Friends of Project Defending Life,
Just after midnight on Nov. 23rd, 2016, an arsonist broke into our building at 625 San Mateo and set three fires that destroyed our Holy Innocents Chapel and rendered the rest of the building unusable from smoke and water damage. As I waited in the cold parking lot behind the building, I wondered how quickly we could get back on our feet and resume helping unfortunate and abortion-vulnerable women.
Over the next week, other fires were set at The Carlisle (an apartme building in Nob Hill), Starbucks, Barnes and Noble, and Old Navy. The arsonist, David Hickman, was captured, arraigned and charged with the string of fires. He has since pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing on five charges. The federal prosecutor has asked PDL and the other victims to write a statement of loss that will be considered in formulating Hickman’s sentence, which could range from 5-20 years for each charge. Please pray for this benighted young man; he, too, is a victim of his own disordered thinking.
In the immediate aftermath of the fire, our friends at Care Net offered us office space to gather our thoughts and start planning our recovery, and they also graciously accepted all clients referred by the Sidewalk Advocates. Thankfully, we had insurance on our contents, but that was just the beginning of this year-long journey. Fr. Young at Queen of Heaven offered us their conference room any time we needed it for staff meetings and planning sessions. A restoration company inventoried and packed up all our possessions and put them in storage. Within a couple of weeks, Mike and Maria from Doughty Enterprises offered us donated office space to continue our mission as a pregnancy resource center. We bought a couple of pieces of furniture and called all our clients to let them know our new location – we were back in business.
Or so we thought. It is amazing how closely tied to our location, just next to Planned Parenthood, we were. Although we tried to get the word out to everyone, we gradually lost volunteers, clients and donors. We kept thinking we would go back to our original location soon, soon – but we could not come to reasonable terms with our landlord and eventually terminated the lease in April. Now we had to start searching for a new location and opinions varied widely on what was “suitable” for us. Some wanted us next to an abortion mill, some wanted us closer to other support organizations. We worked with a very patient commercial real estate agent and looked at multiple properties, but none quite matched the “vision” we had for rebuilding Project Defending Life and our pregnancy resource center, Women’s Pregnancy Options.
During the summer, and by the grace of God, a small building just north of Planned Parenthood became vacant. We signed a lease and started the process of occupying the building in September. Fr. Daniel Williamson, CFR, is working to make modifications to the building that will become our new administrative office. Although half the size of the former location, 729 San Mateo allows us to install a small chapel, with a nice reception area, two client advocacy rooms, an admin office, and even an ADA-compliant restroom! We hope to occupy the new building by January, offering Mass on a regular basis at the new Holy Innocents Chapel and providing services that will allow pregnant women to save themselves and their babies.
The blessings of the year have come in the generosity of people. As mentioned, Mike and Maria Doughty have provided much-needed office space at no cost to us for this year. Dan and Laura Rosecrans organized a wonderful fundraising dinner, as did Mary and Jay Benze at Prince of Peace. The Knights of Columbus at several parishes have been deeply committed to our restoration, offering both financial and material support. Donors new and old have sent us their treasure, large and small. We continue to benefit from your prayers. And two members of our staff delivered healthy babies this year: Robin Moses delighted us with her second child, Abigail Kateri, in March, and our director of client services, Dominique Davis, was blessed with Reverie Soleil in September.
In this season of Thanksgiving, the board of directors, the staff of Project Defending Life, and I are so grateful for your support. We have been lead into the valley of darkness, but He is leading us back into the light. Thank you for journeying with us.
Project Defending Life
Friends For Life,
It's been a very long day for staff and volunteers at Project Defending Life.
First, we are extremely grateful no one was hurt, including surrounding businesses and homes.
Second, we are thankful for the positive and supportive news coverage PDL has been receiving. KOB Channel 4 did a great job! I believe the more people know about what happened the quicker the hard-working FBI and APD personnel will be able to solve this awful and devastating crime.
It is Thanksgiving tomorrow, so moving forward on getting our insurance companies to do their own investigation will be temporarily delayed. Hopefully, things will move more quickly next week. Until then, please be thankful for everything and everyone that you have during this time. I worry about the moms we have been helping and how much this will affect them. There are several moms about to either give birth, who are in the process of being placed in housing, or seeking employment. Not to mention the many other women and families who look forward to their weekly parenting classes where they are generously given encouragement and support by our team!
We see the result of this devastating act as something more beautiful than anything we can imagine. I know we are all excited to literally rise from the ashes and begin again anew.
Finally, when more information can be given, we will make sure to update you all. At this time we are unsure of the help we will require or when we can reopen. Even so, there are a few needs that can be met with your help: Monetary Donations to begin rebuilding A small and secure storage unit New signs for Sidewalk Advocates A small office space near PDL to continue our operations CareNet Pregnancy Center of Albuquerque has kindly offered us space and their Medical Mobile Unit until everything can be resolved. While we are considering this option, we hope something closer to home will be opened to us also. This Saturday at 10am, Sidewalks Advocate for Life-ABQ is hosting a Prayer Rally in front of PDL. We invite all of you to come and join us!
With deepest regards and an abundance of thanks,
Director of Client Services
Project Defending Life is one of Albuquerque’s pro-life resource centers, located next door to Planned Parenthood. One of our biggest services to the public is through our pregnancy resource center, the Women’s Pregnancy Options.
Authorities notified us around midnight that there was a break-in and fire in our facility, leading fire Marshalls to call the FBI, who confirmed this was an act of arson. The arsonist has not been identified, but it has been confirmed that they set two fires within the facility. The first fire was started inside the Holy Innocents chapel, which destroyed the chapel. The second fire was located in the foyer where our literature and signs were displayed. The extent of the damages has still not been confirmed, although the facility has suffered great damage and currently has no power. Due to the damages and the current investigation, Project Defending Life will be shut down until further notice.
This attack on our pregnancy resource center will affect many women and families who come to our facility to receive baby items, parenting classes, pregnancy services, and support. Many of our clients are able to find jobs and housing through our services, and we are saddened with the reality that we will have to put our assistance to clients and the public on hold.
Our doors will be closed to the public and we will not be able to accept any donations at this time. If you feel lead to give to our organization in this time of need, please donate ONLINE at here at defendinglife.org.
Project Defending Life and our ministry Women's Pregnancy Options is deeply troubled by today's events. We are extremely grateful that no one was hurt. While this intentional evil act was meant to scare us and inhibit us from doing our work, those who committed this crime can be assured it has not. There are still many women in need of assistance and support, not including the 15 women we are currently helping with housing, job placement, and parenting support long term. While our building may be finished, we are not, and we will find another place to set up. Thank you everyone for your prayers and generosity. The magnitude of helping hands and kind words show how much our community really cares and that is the most meaningful of it all.
We would like to thank our local authorities for all of their hard work during this investigation, as well as the overwhelming amount of support from our supporters and the public.
If you have any questions, please contact Dominique Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org
Director of client services.
We regret to say that Project Defending Life will be closed for an indefinite period of time for repairs. If you have any questions or concerns, please email us as our phones are inoperable at the moment.
Thank you for your support and prayers.
October 14th - 16th, Location not disclosed
Rachel's Vineyard weekend retreats offer a beautiful opportunity for healing to any woman or man who has struggled with the emotional or spiritual pain of an abortion. The retreat is a chance to get away from the daily pressures of work and family, to focus on a painful time in life, and to begin healing through a supportive and non-judgmental process. Spiritual exercises focus on God's forgiveness, compassion, and mercy are shared through psychological exercises which help participants work through repressed grief and anger that may exist. Many preconceived fears of condemnation are transformed into blessings; memories of abandonment, pain, and confusion are replaced by peace and reconciliation.
Rachel's Vineyard retreat, written by Theresa Karminski Burke, PhD with Barbara Cullen, focuses on God's love and forgiveness in a nonjudgmental environment. Based in Catholicism, the retreat is open to and welcomes individuals of all denominations.
Registration: The retreat weekend is designed for twelve participants; a minimum of of six registrations is necessary to hold the retreat. Participants will receive a call before the weekend to address or answer any questions about the retreat. Participants will receive a letter of confirmation with driving directions and a map to the retreat facility.
Schedule: The weekend begins on Friday evening and concludes mid-Sunday afternoon.
Cost: The $135.00 registration fee includes lodging for two nights, linens and towels, meals, and materials. Financial assistance may be available and retreat fee can also be paid over a period of months.
Accommodations: Retreats are held at a private facility in a peaceful remote setting, For confidentiality purposes location will be given only to participants that are registered.
Contact: Sophie Serna at email@example.com or 505-386-7922.
Confidentiality: Rachel's Vineyard strictly respects confidentiality and privacy. If you or someone you know is hurting, please call today.
More Information: Call the toll-free national hotline at 1-877-HOPE-4-ME or visit the website at www.rachelsvineyard.
Volunteer Training beginning Thursday, February 18th from 5:30pm to 8:30pm
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer for Project Defending Life or our pregnancy resource center ministry, Women's Pregnancy Options, please come to our four week training.
Training will be every Thursday from 5:30pm to 8:30pm beginning February 18 and ending March 10.
New Volunteer Application must be completed and submitted prior to the training. No FEE is necessary. Please email applications to the Director of Client Services, Dominique Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also deliver applications to our location at 625 San Mateo Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87108.
We look forward to seeing you there!
You're invited to Project Defending Life's Open House!
We are hosting an open house for all to come to see and hear about all the work PDL and our ministry, Women's Pregnancy Options has done to help women who are pregnant and in need. It will also be an opportunity to learn about this year's update and vision for our pro-life organization and ways to get involved.
Open House is Saturday, January 30th, 2016 from 12:00pm-4:00pm at 625 San Mateo Blvd NE. Light refreshments will be provided.
Please consider donating to our life saving organization today!
Project Defending Life