by Ana Franco-Guzman
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Save the Storks says that four out of five women who board a Stork Bus will choose life after seeing the ultrasound images of their unborn child.
Save the Storks, a pro-life ministry founded by Joe and Ann Baker, currently has 18 Mercedes sprinter buses located in different U.S. cities, including Boston; Savannah, Georgia; Silver Spring, Maryland; and Sacramento, California. Buses also are in cities in Texas, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Oregon.
These Stork Buses are fully equipped mobile medical clinics that offer sonograms and other medical services to pregnant women in need. Save the Storks also partners with pregnancy resource centers around the country to provide them with tools and training so they can more effectively reach and serve expectant mothers who might be contemplating abortion.
In an interview from Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he and his wife live with their little boy, Sam, Joe Baker talked to Catholic News Service about the roots of his pro-life outreach.
It goes back to the fourth grade when a red-headed boy with two broken arms went door-to-door to help raise money for the pregnancy clinic his mom directed in Pennsylvania. It was then, Baker said, that he began to deeply care about the unborn.
In 2010 while Baker was on a mission trip in New York City, he saw pro-lifers use a retro minivan outside of a pregnancy center to offer free sonograms. It inspired him to co-found Save the Storks. In 2011, he and Ann purchased a Mercedes sprinter van, spread the message about how they were going to defend life and speak for the unborn, and Save the Storks was started.
He said he and his wife did not take any salary from the start of Save the Storks in 2011 until July 2014. In those first three years, they could only afford $3 meals.
“We sacrificed a lot in some ways, being the biggest donors of Save the Storks,” said Baker, 30. Today, Save the Storks has 23 full-time and 10 part-time staffers and 41 affiliates around the country — a number he said has been doubling every six months. Save the Storks is not affiliated with any church denomination and is supported totally by donations.
“Our ministry is modeled after the conversation that Jesus had with the Samaritan woman at the well,” Baker told CNS.
In the Gospel story, the Samaritan woman, an outcast of her own people, was described as having a hunger for wholeness that was deep inside her; it describes how Jesus offers divine mercy “in the living water of grace.”
Baker suggested pro-lifers be innovative in their outreach.
“Instead of yelling on a megaphone or being angry, let’s really dream about how to really reach the market and people that are getting cornered by abortion,” he said.
Save the Storks’ newest idea is Assure Me, a test kit that provides a connection with pregnancy centers for women in the first moments after they discover they’re pregnant. The project was launched in April 2015.
Each Assure Me kit has information in the packaging so a woman can make a phone call directly to the Save the Storks call center. Then Save the Storks is able to connect women to one of the 3,200 pro-life pregnancy centers in the United States. The kit’s logo is a dandelion, representing “something you can kind of wish or wonder on,” said Baker. He added that he doesn’t know how many babies have been saved by his organization but he thinks it’s probably in the thousands.
As for how faith plays a role in his own life, Baker, who is Protestant, noted that he finds God in the outdoors. He told CNS, “Some of the closest moments I’ve had with him have been in mountains.”