When I heard that Joanne Dieleman had retired from Aid to Women, I wanted to write an article about her wonderful, 20-year contribution to pro-life. But as I sat down to write, I realized that I was not familiar enough with the everyday inside workings of Aid to Women, so I asked Joanne’s colleague at the crisis pregnancy counselling centre, Robert Hinchey, to take my place in this column for this month only. He kindly obliged. Robert Hinchey writes:

Joanne Dieleman was the heart and soul of Aid to Women. She was Aid to Women. Her name was synonymous with the organization. She operated it for 19 years, strictly on a volunteer basis. She never accepted a salary. Because of Joanne’s commitment to keep Aid to Women’s doors open, we have saved approximately 1,500 babies “in the 11th hour.” These 1,500 babies became blessings and are the wonderful legacy of Aid to Women’s founders, Joanne Dieleman and Dick Cochrane.

I worked closely on a daily basis with Joanne for the past seven years. Before that, I worked part-time with her from 1984-1988. In all that time, it would not be unusual to see some flaws in a person. But I can honestly say that I have never seen any flaws in Joanne. The more I have gotten to know her, the more my admiration and respect for her have grown. Her passion and commitment to saving babies and helping mothers has never wavered.

Many years ago, I remember driving her to a school at the last moment, because they were having a debate and could not get anyone to represent the pro-life side. Being rather nervous about speaking in public, I did not want to go. I could see that she, too, was nervous, but that was not going to prevent her from giving a voice to the voiceless. Her courage on that occasion inspired me to also overcome my fears in order to promote justice for the unborn.

Her leadership qualities and Christian virtues made her ideally suited to run a pro-life crisis pregnancy centre. Her wisdom and compassion made her an excellent counsellor. However, when a situation demanded it, she wasn’t adverse to doling out tough love. It is nice to be good, but it is also necessary to be effective. Joanne was always effective. I always sought her advice on the many dilemmas which came up at Aid to Women and nine times out of 10, her advice could not have been better. Some of the problems that arise at Aid to Women could tax Solomon, and, unfortunately, Solomon is not available. Joanne was always my sage advice.

God bless you, Joanne.