This Rising Radvocate spotlight chronicles the incredible work of Hannah Kimmer, who volunteered at our All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center for 2.5 years until just this past June. Not only was Hannah a dedicated Talkline volunteer, she was also a part of our first cohort of Indiana Radvocates and was the first All-Options intern! It’s safe to say that she improved everything she touched.
We caught up with Hannah recently and asked her to reflect a bit about her time on the Talkline and what she took away from the experience.
“I love hearing stories. I heard so many different narratives throughout my Backline journey. Some stories made me cry when I got off the phone. Some stories made me laugh on the phone with the caller. I am so honored to hold those stories with me. These were stories of struggle, resilience, anger, bliss, guilt, strength, regret, hope, and much more. I was fortunate enough to ride through that journey with the person on the other side of the phone – help them make sense of what is going on. In a world where it seems like everyone else is telling you what to do, it was refreshing to be someone who was only there as unconditional, non-judgemental, open, full-hearted support.
I once had a call where life was throwing everything it could at this woman. All family members she had were either dead or highly dependent on her to be strong. She was always the solid rock in the family. She raised her siblings after her mother died of an overdose and now they were dealing with addictions as well. Her pregnancy was a result of sexual assault from her ex-boyfriend. She was struggling to pay bills and her job required heavy lifting so a pregnancy could have potentially put her out of a job. She felt abortion and adoption wouldn’t work for her, but carrying the pregnancy to term also seemed impossible.
She broke down crying (understandably), and it took everything within me to not join her. I said “You are so amazingly strong,” and she responded with “How do you know that? I don’t feel strong. I don’t think I’m strong. I’m crying. How do you know I’m strong? You’re just saying that because you have to.” I was knocked back. I had never been challenged before. But fortunately, I don’t say things I don’t mean. I laid out her narrative and explained all the places she could have just given up – yet she didn’t. I think she was a little shocked with my response. It seemed as if no one in her life had ever acknowledged her ability to keep going. Throughout the rest of the call, I emphasized her strength and resiliency (making sure to back up my statements with evidence). At the end of the call, we didn’t know what she was going to do with her pregnancy, but I could her her voice had relaxed. I ended the call with reminding her of her strength. I acknowledged that it may be hard for her to see it, but she needed to remember that someone did – and maybe one day she would see it too.
Like I said, I had never been challenged by a caller. This call just reminded me how there are so many amazing people out there who don’t know how amazing they are. From that, I started complimenting people more – only when I meant it of course. Because even a “Wow! You’re so organized!” or a “I like spending time with you” can really make a difference.”
So what’s next for Hannah?
“I love the field of reproductive justice. It offers so many opportunities in so many different ways. Right now I’m working with youth who have been trafficked – which definitely has to do with reproductive justice (but I won’t talk about it right now because I could probably write a book on it). I may come back to the line one day, but I’m in grad school in Indianapolis now – so it’s just not a good time right now to put my full heart in it. I definitely plan on continuing advocacy and joining protests when they arise. Reproductive justice is kind of part of my being now, so I will always find a way to incorporate it into my life.”
To say Hannah has a knack for supporting and holding up others is an understatement and the impression she left on Backline and All-Options endures. Our Program Manager, Rachel, had this to say about Hannah’s impact:
Hannah approaches everything she does with such love, big-heartedness, and hard work. Her contributions to the Center are invaluable — I honestly believe we wouldn’t have accomplished as much as we have at All-Options and Backline without Hannah in the early days of the Center. She organized our first big Diaper Drive, was the trivia master and emcee for our first Bowl-a-Thon event, and planned the first All-Options birthday party, all of which were huge successes. In addition to her work at the Center, Hannah’s ability and capacity to hold truly open-hearted and kind spaces for our callers and clients, and also for herself, through any circumstance, is incredible. Her instinct to dig deeper into hard conversations or difficult feelings is truly transformative and courageous. She’s an absolute gem — it’s hard to imagine the Talkline without her! We wish her all the luck in the world (though she doesn’t need it!) as she moves on and continues to be a social justice mover and shaker.