Film producer Jason Jones, who co-produced Bella, winner of the People’s Choice Award at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival, will be the keynote speaker at Heartbeat of Toledo’s fund-raising dinner late this month.
The event — scheduled for 6 p.m. March 26 at Premier Banquet Hall, 4480 Heatherdowns Blvd. — is the main fund-raiser for Heartbeat, a nonprofit pregnancy support and information center with its main office in West Toledo and a new satellite facility for women on the city’s east side.
Executive Director Pat Todak said Heartbeat hopes to raise more than $100,000 to help pay for its services, all of which are free and include prenatal and parenting classes, pregnancy tests, ultrasound exams, and the distribution of baby clothes, diapers, and wipes.
The center’s annual operating budget is $350,000, she said. About 500 reservations for the dinner have been booked. The dinner is free, but a donation will be requested. Friday is the deadline for reservations, which can be made by calling 419-241-9131.
Ms. Todak said Hearbeat is apolitical, but wants women who visit the office to bring their pregnancy to term. “We’re not here to evangelize. We’re here to help them make a decision they can live with. We want them to choose life. Every woman who comes in, we give information on adoption, abortion, and parenting. About 80 percent of them opt to parent or adopt.”
Mr. Jones, speaking from his home in Hawaii, described himself as a filmmaker and activist committed to promoting “human dignity. For me, film is an extension of what I’ve committed to do to promote the dignity and worth of every single person.”
He traces this to when, as a teenager, he impregnated his high school girlfriend. He said her father learned she was pregnant, beat her up, and forced her to have an abortion. He said such groups as Heartbeat provide an invaluable safety net for scared, pregnant young women in need of support.
His film Bella is the story of two people who fall in love because of a pregnancy. Another film of his, Crescendo, was co-produced with Pattie Mallette, the mother of Canadian pop superstar Justin Bieber.
Ms. Mallette has written and spoken of how she became pregnant at age 17 and was pressured to have an abortion, but instead, at age 18, gave birth to her future superstar son.
Crescendo is a short film that tells the story of an 18th century woman who tries to kill herself while pregnant. The child she eventually gives birth to is Ludwig von Beethoven. It has won numerous international awards, but attracted criticism from advocates for abortion rights.
Mr. Jones said Crescendo, which is less than 15 minutes in length, has been used at fund-raisers and helped collect more than $5 million for pregnancy-support centers.