In the Heart of Texas
Words by Iesha Boitmann Photos by Ashley Haguewood
A pregnancy center located in a white brick mission building at the corner of 12th and Chicon offers free resources and empowering relationships to all who walk through their door.
After decades in the successful corporate world, Debi Wehmeier left the tall buildings of downtown with a hunger for purpose. That hunger led her to a building in the heart of central east Austin. Debi and her husband, Lloyd, took one leap of faith after another. With a few years of dreaming and planning, they founded Heart of Texas Pregnancy Resource Center (HeartPRC) in 2012 with the purpose of serving young families.
“We opened with a diaper, a dime, and a dream,” Debi recalls. Their first clients were 17 years old. They found themselves in HeartPRC’s office taking a free pregnancy test. When it was positive, Debi walked them through their options. Through their relationship with Debi and her husband, the young parents confronted fears that seemed impossible to overcome. They learned about pregnancy and parenthood and felt impacted by being deeply cared for and supported. The couple was empowered to take on the challenge before them.
Today, those once 17 year olds are a family of four. The mom, so empowered by her experience, developed a love for listening and guiding other moms who are in the very same situation she once found herself in. You can find this now 22-year-old mom of two at the center every Tuesday from 10:30am to noon for “Chick Chat,” a safe space for women to share and be heard, to find acceptance in a time that can be isolating. She has witnessed first-hand the incredible growth of the HeartPRC, now having served over 4,000 women since her first visit 5 years ago.
Walking through doors of the HeartPRC, you’ll find the sense of belonging and non-judgmental support are not just for moms. The staff is a band of sisters with a goal to love well. These women passionately care about their work and every mother, father, and child who walk through the door. The office intentionally runs by appointment out of the belief that everyone deserves the undivided attention of a staff member. Rooms are setup to accommodate one-on-one meetings.
Debi explains, “No matter what’s going on outside our walls, they can walk in and get a smile, a listening ear, and a hug. No matter what, they will be loved, and they can come back as long as they want to.”
In addition, the resources available to moms and families are free and confidential: pregnancy tests, limited ultrasounds, boutique of baby clothes and necessities, abortion recovery, Earn While You Learn program (where parents earn free baby essentials through class attendance), small group mentoring, women’s health/prenatal care referrals, adoption referrals, and/or local church referrals. Those who wish to volunteer are invited to tour the center and witness the wonder behind the doors. The needs are great—from sorting clothes to graphic design, storytelling to arts and crafts. There’s a place for anyone with a desire to serve. The most important resource found in this office safe place is for everyone: family.
Debi speaks about her work with passion. “There’s never been a day where I’ve driven to work in [the last] 5 years where I’ve not wanted to go to my job.” She adds with a grin. “All parents have challenges, but we give them the tools they need through pregnancy and once the baby is here, the tools they need to raise a child in a healthy way.” It’s undeniable that HeartPRC is here to serve women and support families. Whether a woman walks in scared or rejoicing over their pregnancy, they are welcomed and supported.
From the founder, to the staff, to the moms who have been cared for one thing is certain, there is nothing more wondrous than a woman who knows she is loved.
Get Involved: The HeartPRC is growing rapidly and has opened a second location in Dripping Springs. To accommodate growth and rising rent, they accept financial donations as well as material items for babies and families.
1190 Chicon St.