History of ZOE For Life!®
Sitting on a porch on a warm, sunny day in 1998, a group of Orthodox church friends had a deep conversation. They discussed that the Lord had blessed each one of them and that they would like to serve Him in some way, but they were not sure how. To help them with their journey, a survey was sent to female parishioners at Saints Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, to see what they felt was the greatest social need, and how they would like to get involved to make a difference. The survey revealed three major areas of interest: battered women and children, an Orthodox adoption agency, and women in distress due to unplanned pregnancies.
After meeting with representatives of the Ohio Department of Health and Family Services, executive directors of unplanned pregnancy centers, and representatives from Care Net, which is a national Christian organization that fosters unplanned pregnancy centers, the friends were stunned to learn that the Orthodox community very likely suffers from higher abortion rates than the national norm. Area clergy sadly confirmed that women in crisis due to unplanned pregnancies only discussed this during confession.
These conversations galvanized the friends as nothing else had. They began meeting in earnest to create and develop an organization that catered to this urgent need. And so, ZOE for Life!® (Zoe means ‘life’ in Greek) was born.
In 2003, ZOE for Life!® was awarded the important endorsement of the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), the predecessor to the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America.
In the summer of 2006, ZOE for Life!® opened the doors to ZOE House® – its first community outreach center serving the northeast Ohio area. It helps women who have chosen life but are struggling to provide daily necessities for their newborn and serves as a place for support and counseling. ZOE House® also serves as a repository for physical necessities including maternity clothing, diapers, wipes, cribs, play yards, car seats and clothing for newborns and toddlers. On average, ZOE House® serves approximately 600 families per year. For more information on ZOE House® click here.
The ministry these friends thought of on a porch many years ago continues to grow.
Since then, in August 2015 ZOE for Life!® opened its second chapter in Detroit, Michigan, which was subsequently moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan in November 2018.
ZOE Women’s Center®, which opened in 2019, also serves the northeast Ohio area. It is a safe, nonjudgmental organization designed to support women who find themselves at a crossroads due to the possibility of an unplanned pregnancy or who are suffering from the emotional and spiritual effects of a past abortion or other sexual trauma. ZOE Women’s Center® does this by empowering women through prayer, support, education, and mentoring to make responsible life choices. For more information on ZOE Women’s Center® click here.