FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Little Taylor Helmerich only had the briefest of lives. But because of that life, many lives have been changed and many others have been saved.
In May 1997, Frank and Sarah Helmerich, like all expectant parents, were preparing for and eagerly awaiting the birth of Taylor. Then a miscarriage occurred.
“Much as I wanted to have children, it killed me, [and] I tried to search with the human mind why it happened,” Helmerich said.
The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary graduate did not find answers, but he did find direction.
“I specifically wanted to help some pro-life organization, because here I would have given anything to keep what other people freely do away with,” Helmerich recounted.
Even though he was “broke,” Helmerich sent $10 checks to Lifeline Family Center, a home for teens in crisis pregnancy where “these girls could choose to have their babies instead of abortions,” he said.
“My motivation was that I didn’t want any more children to be killed,” he added.
Initially, Helmerich, a real estate agent in Florida, just wanted to give his financial support to Lifeline.
“But, then, [Lifeline] did a fund-raiser,” he said. “That’s when I wrote all of my buddies and all of them knew that we lost Taylor to miscarriage.”
He sent out 200 letters to his friends in real estate and construction asking them to support Lifeline, but only about 30 of them sent back checks because of the slow economy in Florida at that time, Helmerich said.
Those donations, however, totaled about $5,000, which was matched by an anonymous donor.
“We have kept that relationship ever since then, and every time we raise $5,000 for a local Christ-centered organization, the anonymous donor puts in the other $5,000,” Helmerich said.
As a result, a $10,000 endowment fund was started for Lifeline at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation “so that Lifeline gets the income from that endowment for years to come, and the idea is that they grow the endowment,” he said.
But Helmerich was not done. He told his 30 friends that gave if they would simply donate the same amount again, then another $10,000 endowment fund could be started.
They met his challenge.
“Then we did one for a different group, then another, [and] we just formed a loose organization,” Helmerich said.
That loose organization became United Christian Giving, with Helmerich serving as founding president. UCG helps raise funds for Christian ministries, including pro-life family centers, inner-city ministries, student ministries, Christian schools and a church planting group.
“What’s so cool is that God used that darkest hour in my life” to launch UCG, Helmerich said. “UCG was born when my child died.”
The organization received the Governor’s Points of Light Award from Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on March 9.
“United Christian Giving’s success in securing funds for other faith-based organizations is inspiring,” said Gov. Bush in a press release announcing the award. “Founder Frank Helmerich’s dedication should be commended.”
Today, UCG has provided more than $180,000 to help fund 18 faith-based organizations, including Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Teen Challenge, Sonshine Christian School and Southwest Florida Children’s Home.
For groups to receive assistance from UCG, “they have to be Christ-centered and they have to be evangelistic. If not, we don’t look at them,” Helmerich said. “It’s all about bringing people to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”
At Edison Community College, Florida Gulf Coast University and High Tech Center Central, UCG has also established scholarship endowment funds that are especially beneficial for young women who are pregnant.
“We give them scholarship grants so that they could go to school and get their education,” Helmerich said. “Instead of just saying, ‘Don’t kill your child,’ [we say,] ‘Here is a place where you can live, [and] here is the money for education so you can support your child.'”
Helmerich is also trying to establish a program to help young mothers begin to fund their babies’ college education as well, “so that the lady is not sitting there thinking that child has no future just like I have no future,” he said.
Although saving a baby’s life and ministering to young mothers are very important, Helmerich said his main motivation is evangelism.
“We want that young lady to accept Christ as personal Savior and Lord and hopefully raise her child in that way,” he said.
A Founder’s Society covers administrative costs, which means 100 percent of all donations made through UCG go to the designated organizations, according to the UCG Internet site.
Currently, UCG is working on $10,000 endowments for the Salvation Army and Inter-Varsity.
Helmerich hopes to expand UCG beyond the Sunshine State and make it a national organization. The Tulsa Community Foundation in Oklahoma has awarded UCG of Tulsa a $2,500 “starter kit” grant.
“There is no limit to the number of generous people in this great country who want to reach out and provide assistance to organizations that are offering a valuable community service,” Helmerich said.
For more information about UCG, contact the organization at 5845 Riverside Lane, Fort Myers, FL 33919; (941) 418-0077; Frank@UnitedChristianGiving.org; or www.unitedchristiangiving.org.