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Posts Tagged ‘E-cards’

Please join me in celebrating a very special anniversary.

2010 marks the 5th Anniversary of our talkline’s expansion from a limited Bay-Area, bilingual service into a national, multilingual one that is available every day!

It is with the help of people like you – our supporters – that, five years ago, we were able to respond to demand from women and men throughout the United States seeking a safe place to talk after an abortion.  I write to invite you to make a special gift to Exhale in commemoration of this significant time in our history.

We grow Exhale and our free programs in direct response to the needs of our callers.  Part of what motivates and inspires us as an organization is finding new ways to respond to our callers’ needs with fresh ideas and innovative projects that make our pro-voice mission real in their every day lives.  Listening carefully to our callers over the last five-years of national, multilingual service has led Exhale to:

  • Develop Post-Abortion E-Cards that help loved ones respectfully acknowledge the personal abortion experience of someone they care about.
  • Grow an Online Community that facilitates supportive connections among women who have had abortions.
  • Advocate for Social Science Research that deepens our understanding of the social and emotional experience of abortion.
  • Create Storytelling Forums that ensure personal abortion stories are heard with dignity and respect.
  • Provide Thought Leadership that offers our nation new opportunities to transform conflict and create abortion peace.

The reality is that at this exciting moment Exhale faces real challenges.  Our revenue from private foundations is down and our call volume is up. We are faced with the challenge of declining revenue and increasing demand.  Exhale is using this difficult financial time to be the organization we’ve always dreamed about becoming.  We are putting our organizational values and beliefs into practice and strengthening the culture (risk-taking, abundance, excellence) we have worked so hard to build.

Exhale is an organization of copious strengths and assets and with the generous contributions of people like you, we can leverage them in new, creative ways moving forward.  For every dollar Exhale receives as a donation, we turn it into $2.50 of volunteer service.  We more than double the value of your gift.  Over a third of our budget is contributed through the time our volunteers donate to our mission.

Please give generously today and help Exhale thrive for the next five.

We are so grateful for the support we have received since the day we first launched the talkline in 2002 and in the five years since we significantly expanded our service. We know that together with supporters like you we will thrive for the next five – and many more!  In commemoration of our 5th Anniversary of listening to women from around the country (and beyond), in multiple languages, every day of the week, I invite you to support Exhale by making a special donation today.

Our goal is to raise $15,000 by August 31st. Help us reach our goal and make a donation today!


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*Guest Blogger*

Nat Okey, Exhale Volunteer:

We all know the routine for Valentine’s Day: buy your love interest some stuff, take ‘em to a totally straight movie because queer couples are just too difficult to acknowledge, even in a movie trailer, add some flowers, chocolates, and dinner and you’ve done right, right?  Oh, and don’t forget to tell them you love them with a prescribed message from an international corporation, you know, because nothing says “I love you” like hegemony.

What if instead you decided to give someone your unconditional love?

Do you know someone who has been through a difficult time recently, or who is having trouble letting go of old but lasting and magnetic pain?  It might be your lover, your former girlfriend, or just a friend.  It might even be your mom who has felt alone for decades.

There are no Hallmark cards for dealing with abortion in our stigmatized culture.

But, there are e-cards from Exhale. Exhale can help you reach out to someone in your life who deserves your love and respect.  It’s important that we acknowledge the women in our lives who’ve had abortions and who afterward may have never had anyone say to them: “You’re a good person.”  “You’re a good mother.”  “I love you and I’m here for you.”

This Valentine’s Day, please consider honoring the women in your life who may need your kind, unconditional words in addition to the usual gestures.

Unconditional love goes a long way.

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Exhale was founded in 2000, began operating in 2002 and in 2005 our regional, bilingual service expanded into a national, multilingual one.  2005 was also the year we coined the term “pro-voice” to describe our humanizing response to the cultural war over abortion. At the launch of a new decade, Pro-Voice Ambassadors reflect back on the last 10 years and share their favorite Exhale moments.

#10: Dreams Become Reality

Laura Perez, co-founder:  “I loved reviewing the talkline’s 2008 Call Report and learning the details about calls received: who is calling the line and why. I was moved knowing how the volunteers and staff provide such a valuable service to women, partners and families affected by abortion. The dreams of all of us co-founders came true! The talkline is what we wished existed after we had our abortions.”

#9: Ambassadors Spread the Pro-Voice Message

Claudia Wu, volunteer counselor: “I was so proud to represent Exhale as a Pro-Voice ambassador at the SisterSong conference in Washington D.C. Wearing the Pro-Voice shirt and embodying the stories I have heard from women and loved ones was empowering. I feel privileged to be a face and a voice for Exhale.”

#8: Strength-based Culture Shines

Kristen Schultz Oliver, Director of Programs:  “There’s a new, solid foundation that Exhale is growing from – the fact that we started working from our strengths as an organization in 2007. What that means: we made a conscious decision to shift our organizational culture to one that focuses on the best of who we are and what we do. As a result, the volunteer program has gone from good to great, and every single one of our volunteers is someone I respect and admire. In fact, I can already predict my highlights for the next 10 years – they will always include Exhale volunteers, shining their collective light out in the world.”

#7: Awarded for Excellence in Nonprofit Volunteer Management

Ronak Dave, volunteer counselor: In my first three months as a counselor, I was so impressed with how Exhale recruited and trained its counselors that I nominated Exhale for the Excellence in Volunteer Management award. I was inspired by how Exhale always manages to keep counselors engaged, challenged, and educated.  I was so pleased when they won the award — a truly deserving accolade.”

#6: Leadership with Heart

Aimee Thorne-Thomsen, national advisory council member: “The first time I met Aspen Baker was when she showed up in a room full of pro-choice advocates to introduce Exhale.  She was not greeted with open-arms.  She had only been invited because my colleague, Eshauna, at PEP demanded it.  Eshauna was tired of reading and hearing the criticism, griping and judgments from advocates on listserves and in meetings about Exhale, while knowing that not a single one of them had ever talked to anyone from Exhale.  Everyone at PEP agreed that Exhale should be treated with respect.  And then there was the meeting.  I remember seeing Aspen with her board member, Amy Moy.  And I remember thinking, ‘wow that chick has heart.  Who else would walk into a potential den of wolves like this one?’  Aspen handled herself with poise, grace and humor, qualities that I’ve since learned define much of her character.  Aspen stepped right into a tough situation, made all the more difficult because the people in the room should have been the first ones to understand Exhale’s mission and to be its strongest supporters.”

#5: Board Grants the Executive Director a Paid Sabbatical

Jen Rudy, Board President: “Hands down, one of my favorite Exhale moments of the last decade was witnessing our board unanimously vote to support Aspen’s request for a sabbatical! The decision meant that we were unified in supporting and celebrating the personal and professional challenges and accomplishments that were unique unto our founding Executive Director.  It was an opportunity to honor her work, give her time to reflect and relax and for us to “walk the walk” of the strength-based model we’d adopted as an organization.  As a board of non-profit professionals, we all understood the burn-out that often occurs among nonprofit leaders. We, as an organization, were trying to change the tide of the sacrificing mode in which our sector often operates.  This sabbatical was about recharging and preventing burn-out, yes.  But, it was primarily one about trust, celebration and an act to say “thank you” to a tremendous leader.  We were proud of Aspen for asking for the sabbatical; we were proud of ourselves for granting the sabbatical. It set us on a path of real organizational cohesiveness.”

#4: Critics Become Champions

Khadine Bennett, former volunteer counselor and board member: “I love how Exhale transitioned from being an organization that was viewed as some kind of “anti”-group in disguise – simply because Exhale: (1) acknowledged that women who have had abortions experience a wide range of feelings and (2) created a non-judgmental, agenda-free space where women and their partners could talk about their abortion experience – into being a leader in the reproductive health field.  They have garnered the respect of former detractors in the pro-choice movement and shifted how the pro-choice movement deals with the issue of post-abortion counseling. Now Exhale’s non-judgmental, women-centered approach is promoted and it is common knowledge that women have a right to express their post-abortion feelings without fear of stigmatization from either side.”

#3: Online Community Builds Connections

Erika Jackson, volunteer counselor: “Recently on the online community, we started to notice two community members commenting back and forth on each other’s pages. It was powerful to witness two women who were so different come together to support each other through their common experience. The comments spanned several weeks and eventually they also talked about other areas of their lives. It was in that moment that I was able to see how important it is to share and hear each other’s stories. These women, who previously felt completely isolated and alone, now had each other to lean on.”

#2: E-cards Make Big News

Julie Davidson-Gomez, board member: “After Exhale launched the post-abortion e-cards, I watched our press release get picked up by the Associated Press and then spread like wildfire over outlets across the nation. I remember feeling exhilarated and terrified (at times). The criticism heated up, and some even turned into outright attacks on Exhale. I was so impressed by how Exhale responded – proactively, directly, and most importantly from a strengths-based, Pro-Voice place. Accompanying Aspen on a national Fox News interview, I got to witness Pro-Voice in action. Aspen was not only poised, she was able to utilize the interviewer’s manipulative and leading questions to educate Exhale’s national audience. In the process, she broke down stigma for women who have abortions, and shifted the dialogue in a way that respected the personal experience of abortion. Subsequent interviews began from the premise that abortion is a common event in women’s lives, and provided a human touch (e.g. “We all know someone who has had an abortion”) that had never before existed in the mainstream media.”

#1: The First Talkline Call & Every Call Since

Lisa Lepson, former volunteer counselor and founding board president: “I took the very first talkline call on my first night on shift. We had just launched the line three days before and we had not received a call yet.  I took my shift believing that the talkline was destined to be a success but that it would take time for word to spread that it was available. So, imagine my surprise when my Exhale cell phone range. I answered and there was a male voice on the other end of the line! At first I thought, “this must be Aspen’s boyfriend testing me, to make sure I’m here” but I quickly realized it wasn’t.  The caller was a father wanting to support his daughter who had recently had an abortion. The volunteer training and all of the hard work volunteers had done to make the talkline a reality came together in that moment. This was indeed a service that community members needed and desired.”

Aries Hines, volunteer counselor: “I have felt a divine spiritual connections with many of my calls, as if it was meant for me to take that call at that moment. Many of my callers have moved me to also Exhale, at the end of a call. In some of my calls I felt like I was holding the hand of friend while she explained, laying on the lap of a mother while she told her story, rubbed my hair, and I listened to her tears, or just standing by hearing and hugging a woman who’s never been heard. This is the power of Exhale. It has bonded me to strangers who are my sisters in the struggle. ”

Neda Saleh, volunteer counselor: “It is transformative to listen to a caller in Spanish. It is very clear to me that we are all connected and our human emotions and experiences are shared across our ethnicity or origin. Una momenta transformativa!”

What is your favorite Exhale story of the Decade?  Please join the conversation and share your Exhale story today!

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