Interview with Joe Baker
Joe, “Save the Storks” is a very interesting name. Please tell us about what Save the Storks does, and also how you came up with the idea for it, and how you came up with that name?
Joe Baker: Save the Storks is a pro-life nonprofit. We are not an animal activist organization. However, we definitely like it when people think that.
I have a conversation at least once a week explaining to people what Save the Storks is. I have a shirt that says on the back of it, “50 million storks shot down since 1973.” I was in an Apple store not too long ago, and this woman literally grabbed me, spun me around, and said “Who in the world is killing the storks?” She was so visibly upset.
I’m only human so I jokingly led her on a little bit that there was somebody in North Dakota shooting these birds down as they were flying over the border, and eventually the story got so elaborate that my wife poked me in the ribs and told me I should really tell the lady the truth since she was getting so upset.
So then I told the lady that nobody was actually shooting down storks, but that we are a pro-life nonprofit building mobile medical pregnancy centers to offer free pregnancy tests and sonograms to women right at the door of abortion clinics.
Then her face went totally cold and she said, “Well, I am totally pro-choice.” So I responded to that, “That’s great because 84% of post-abortive women later say that they felt abortion was their only choice, and we’re able to meet the needs of those women, and reach out to those women who feel cornered as though abortion was their only solution. And that’s why we’re so successful as well. Actually, three out of five women who board our bus end up keeping their babies and having a wonderful baby that they love.”
This woman didn’t know what to do with that because if she was still against us in her pro-choice sound bite she used, then she wouldn’t really be pro-choice, she would just be pro-abortion.
So in developing our brand a lot of what I’m trying to do is come at the pro-life movement from a new angle, and try to throw off the other people and get them thinking a little differently about the issue of abortion, so try to rebrand it so they’re not just ready with all their sound bites.
PLM: In terms of the name, Save the Storks, is what you just described behind your thinking when you came up with that name?
Joe Baker: Yes. We’re really trying to rebrand pro-life. Our first project ever was called “Cupcakes for Life.” It was an initiative to try to get people to accept pro-life even if they’re totally pro-choice.
This was a way to hand someone a prolife cupcake and then talk about the issue. This went all over the country and there is even a national pro-life cupcake day held on October 9. So we’re always trying to rebrand and rethink pro-life.
PLM: How does the process work for getting pregnant women to find Save the Stork buses? Do you partner with local pregnancy centers?
Joe Baker: Yes. Pregnancy centers contact us, fill out an application on our website, and then we make contact with them to see if they qualify for our grant. And if they do then we’ll have them get a bus.
PLM: When they get the bus what does a typical pregnancy center do? Do they have the bus out in front of, for example, a Planned Parenthood? How do they use the bus?
Joe Baker: We’re trying to help pregnancy centers do exactly that. We want to see them sidewalk counseling, which means that they will have girls out on the street directly reaching out to the customers of that abortion clinic.
That is the mission of Save the Storks, to create vehicles like that and make them as small as possible so that the vehicle fits right into one parking space. That’s a wonderful aspect of it because it can’t be “zoned out” like an RV can. It has no noisy generator. It all fits in this compact mobile vehicle. And it’s all totally state-of-the-art built by Mercedes Benz.
It’s a pretty neat vehicle. It’s built to do exactly what it does. What happens is a pregnancy center will have a sidewalk counselor meet a girl, usually at a bus stop, or coming in a cab. And then she just has to be approachable and gently talk to the girl professionally and offer her the resources of a free pregnancy test, a sonogram, and then all the other things a pregnancy center provides, like counseling classes, food, clothing, discipleship and training, all sorts of things that a pregnancy center will offer if a woman decides to keep her baby and go through the pregnancy.
All of that happens on the bus. Women just board the bus, and there are three things that help a woman make a decision for life. One, when someone encourages that pregnancy.
Often, the first person to support that pregnancy will be on our Stork bus. The second thing is just offering the pregnant woman the precious resources that I was just talking about. The third thing is the magic that happens with a sonogram when a woman begins to bond with her baby. It’s just an amazing thing when a woman really begins to consider that this baby is going to live forever.
PLM: Did you say that three out of five women who come onto a Save the Stork bus to take advantage of the counseling and the other services will make a decision for life?
Joe Baker: Yes.
PLM: That is a startling and fantastic statistic.
Joe Baker: It’s actually quite a bit lower in percentage terms than a pregnancy center which is closer to 90%, but what’s happening is at pregnancy centers is that you’re now getting more and more pro-life women, and less pro-abortion women.
So what we’re doing is meeting the needs of the totally abortion committed woman. And so that statistic is astounding when you consider that every one of these girls has already scheduled an abortion.
PLM: So out of five women heading to Planned Parenthood who have already made up their minds to get an abortion, if the Save the Storks bus is there, and if they accept the invitation to board the bus, 60%, three out of five, will change their minds.
Joe Baker: Yes.
PLM: That gives me so much hope. It’s just a fantastic statistic. How can we get a Save the Storks bus in front of every Planned Parenthood and every other abortion center in the United States?
Joe Baker: Well, we need a couple more million dollars. Five million dollars would put a Save the Storks bus in every major city. I think that’s a pretty low price tag when you consider the impact that a bus, on average, will achieve about 150 saves a year. In New York City, that’s closer to about 500 saves a year.
In Houston, where they’re using a bigger mobile unit that isn’t Save the Storks, they’re getting 900 saves per year.
So there’s a lot of potential to save a lot of women and really make a difference. This is not picketing, this is not protesting, we’re not out there as activists. If you look at us it doesn’t even look like we would care if the place would shut down because we’re so laser focused on providing for each woman who comes in.
We come in as a professional competitor. We’re not out there with any interest in trying to say anything derogatory or rude. We’re really there just to serve these women, and that’s what has made us so successful.
PLM: When we spoke before I was very intrigued by the unique angle you bring. It seems that you have a particular focus on serving the woman who is pregnant, not only at the very moment she is at the abortion clinic but also trying to serve her future needs. How did you come up with that specific approach?
Joe Baker: That’s a mission that has already been done so well. Already, the ground has been broken in that the pregnancy centers are these wonderful organizations that have support systems for these girls. Sometimes they will even offer shelter to a girl who is in an abusive situation.
There is just an abundance of resources already in pregnancy centers around the country. There are thousands of pregnancy centers in America.
The problem is that these pregnancy centers are meeting fewer abortion vulnerable or abortion committed women. They are more and more meeting with women who are pro-life and in a crisis pregnancy who want to keep their babies and just want access to those resources, which is great.
But I want to try to help pregnancy centers reach out and meet women that are more and more abortion committed. I’m talking to a pregnancy center right now and their main advertising is in the yellow pages. That’s just not going to work anymore.
So we’re an organization that really wants to help pregnancy centers reach more women and just provide those resources. When women see these resources available and then bond with their babies, they’re really left with a much more objective choice. And that’s what we’re trying to provide.
PLM: How many Save the Stork vehicles do you have in operation right now?
Joe Baker: We’re a small organization. We’ve only been around for two years. We launched one bus in Dallas last year. That was our first vehicle. It had about 80 saves.
Our next fleet of vehicles is coming out in the next season. We have three $32,000 grants to give out. We have one van completely finished out and ready to go. And then we have another one that we just bought that we’re going to start finishing.
So this is the season of launching buses. We haven’t gone public with where they are going to be yet, but I have a stack of pregnancy center applications here on my desk, so in every corner of America we’re coordinating with pregnancy centers. We really see a future for this and we’re really excited.
PLM: You talked a little about the cost of one of these vehicles, and I saw in some of the photographs that you’ve shown that the vehicles are very high quality. A lot of care is taken on how the vehicle looks not just on the exterior but also on the interior. What is the philosophy behind that?
Joe Baker: I appreciate that you asked that because there are some people who say things like we’re spending too much money on the massage chair in the vehicle, and having those seats makes it look like a jet airplane or something like that.
That’s easy to deflect for a couple of reasons. First of all, we believe that everything God does is excellent. He doesn’t do anything that isn’t extravagant. At least He hasn’t in my life.
Another layer of it that we have to consider is that pro-life right now has a brand that really needs some work to get the next generation excited about it.
In that branding process, every pregnancy center that we’ve been talking to, the central part of their brand has been that their services are free. For example, “At Planned Parenthood they’re going to charge you, but we’re free.”
The problem with that is because of Obamacare and what’s coming next year, free is going to mean nothing. So if we’re not thinking ahead in our branding and our marketing, we’re going to lose. What is a free service if the competitor is free too? It’s totally a wash.
We can brand things like excellence, extravagance. We can brand compassion. We can brand caring for people’s needs. Those are the things we can really brand.
There’s a very short time period when a girl looks in our bus and makes a decision whether she’s going to come in or not. And we want her to look in and think, “Wow. That is the most beautiful vehicle interior that I have ever seen. I want to just see what these people have to offer.”
And a lot of women get on a bus just with that kind of curiosity. We want the woman to feel comfortable. We want full atmosphere control.
A lot of these girls’ lives are so busy and cluttered that they don’t even have an elegant place to make a decision. We control the song that’s playing. We can control the lighting. We can control the temperature. We can do all of that right from an iPad in the vehicle. It’s an amazing thing.
As for the massage chair, we found that pregnant women when they sit in it they don’t want to leave. So it’s a great piece of work. It does exactly what we want it to.
And when you consider a $32,000 grant, a vehicle is actually very affordable. The vehicles cost about $100,000 said and done, and then we pay $32,000 for that.
About 20 years ago the cost of a sonogram machine was more than our entire unit.
PLM: So a local pregnancy center, for example, that would like to have one of these vehicles might have an opportunity for a grant, and then they would need to do local fundraising to make up for the remainder of the cost of the vehicle?
Joe Baker: Exactly. They are responsible to raise some of it and we raise some of it.
PLM: So you’re a new organization. You’re kind of at the ground level, grass roots. You’re having a lot of success which is wonderful. What are your most important long term goals, for example, five to ten years out?
Joe Baker: We’re already looking forward to another project where we are going to go on university campuses with a different brand and a different kind of bus. That will be exploring what we can do with a larger vehicle.
That will be built around sexually transmitted infections, STIs, and it’s all going to be about offering STI testing on college campuses. So we’re working on that.
I really just want to help pregnancy centers reach more women. Whatever is the cutting edge, innovative way to do that, we need to help them to do that. We’ve got to aid them in reaching this generation with branding, with technology, and with marketing.
So that’s what we’re taking on as an organization, trying to provide these resources to them.
PLM: That’s great Joe. It’s great information. It’s a great concept. I am glad you are having so much success and wish you all the luck in the world.
If people want to learn more about your organization and how they can contribute where can they find information?
Joe Baker: Just come to the website at www.savethestorks.com
PLM: Thanks Joe. We look forward to hearing great things about the Save the Storks organization.
About Save the Storks
Statistics have shown time and again that many post-abortive women felt like they didn’t have all the information they needed to make the choice for life. With the arrival of ultrasound technology, we think this is a travesty that more women aren’t able to see their babies before they make this life or death decision.
Our solution? To build as many Stork Buses as possible to reach as many women as possible with the truth about life and abortion. Many women don’t know that pregnancy centers exist, so we want to extend the reach of the centers to reach abortion-minded women with truth and compassion.
The result of these efforts is that 3 out of 5 women who board a Stork Bus will choose life after seeing the ultrasound images of their child.
Our mission is to empower abortion-minded mothers all over America to choose life. We’re accomplishing this by partnering with local pregnancy centers that will own and operate our vehicles outside of abortion clinics to reach women who feel like they only have one choice. By doing this, more women will be saved from the pain and heartbreak of abortion.
Consider partnering with us in this mission to save hearts and lives and to save the storks that carry precious cargo.
Save The Storks is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Federal Tax ID #46-1031815.