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The Advocate

Meet the leader of our Arise Advocates room Ms. Jackie Tolford.

I know that title of "Leader" will make Jackie blush but, it happens to be truth. Jackie is a member of the Arise Daughter team and a staunch Pro-Life advocate. Like so many of us, Jackie is post-abortive and only came to value life once she renewed her relationship with Christ. Jackie always manages to keep me informed about what is happening in the Prolife world no matter where she is in the world (right now she is gleefully in Panama). There's rarely a week that goes by that Jackie doesn't send me two or three links to articles, sermons or books dealing with the issues of maternal health or abortion. I set time aside to view what she sends because Jackie is passionate about her calling in both word and deed. She scours various news agencies I might miss to provide a more balanced and thought provoking viewpoint. To say this keeps me on my toes would be an understatement! Yet, Jackie does all this with joy because she is passionate about enhancing the lives of moms and babies.

Jackie is also becoming a force when it comes to advocating in real time for the rights of young moms. I have watched her struggle to help give teen moms the agency to follow their natural birth plan. She has seen first hand how teen moms have to fight a medical system that encourages unnecessary induction of labor and non-emergency C-sections in order to simply have natural vaginal births. She has also seen up close the benefits of doulas and birth coaches as part of a complete prenatal plan designed to keep mom and baby the focus of care. Her fierce determination to stand in the gap for young women inspires all of us at Arise Daughter.

My Mom could have used a "Jackie." Let me explain.

When it came time for my mother to give birth to my closest brother, she arrived at the largest and best equipped hospital in Detroit fully expecting to be afforded all of the amenities they could provide. To her surprise, she was told that she was being denied access to a regular delivery room and that she would have to give birth to my brother in, wait for it… a hallway. That decision wasn't made based upon any other criteria than the color of her skin. My mother could have used an advocate like Jackie; someone who would have had the moral backbone to stand up to an unjust system and say, “No! This is NOT acceptable.” My mom could have easily become a maternal death statistic due simply to negligent care. Mom later wrote a tersely worded letter to the hospital to describe the awful birth experience she endured. Worse yet, my dad-our provider and protector- felt powerless as he was given very little voice in the whole affair. It scared my mom to the point that when I was born she chose a much smaller, seemingly less equipped local hospital that, gratefully, had a different standard of care.

Tweet this: The world needs more maternal health advocates.

Jackie, who by the way is a retired teacher, serves her local pregnancy resource center as a volunteer. She also chooses to stand outside of abortion clinics in Atlanta as often as she can to gently and lovingly support young women and save lives.

This is what Jackie has to say about her healing journey and her time with Arise Daughter:

For me, for my hard-crusted, independent soul, art made the breakthrough.

First by unintentionally seeing the very creative and well-acted play "Viable" on my phone, and later by seeing an Arise Daughter virtual interview with a unique photographer.

I never needed, never wanted a support group!!

But… oh the difference it’s made.

I really thank God for the bond of non-judgement,

for true understanding,

for creative education and for the ever-loving support of Sylvia and the Arise Daughter tribe! They have brought rise to the artist in me.

We thank you Jackie for bringing out the advocate in us and for your steadfast support not only for Arise Daughter but to the women you serve.

*Jackie's new ministry, " which focuses on beautifully made wrap garments and bags from international fabrics is off and running so, stay tuned @wraparoundloveskirt on Instagram!

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