We are proud to announce that our founder and Executive Director, Vivian Koob has received the 2020 Respect Life Award!
Recipients of this award must “proclaim that human life is a precious gift from God; that each person who receives this gift has responsibilities toward God, self, and others; and that society, through its laws and social institutions, must protect and nurture human life at every stage of its existence” (Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities, 2001, p. 1). Vivian has done all this and more through her personal, professional, and social life.
Anti-abortion: Vivian Koob and her husband Steve founded Elizabeth’s New Life Center (ENLC) in 1989 and she has been the continuous Executive Director ever since. I started volunteering at ENLC in the early 1990s and was hired as the first employee in 1995. Vivian continued as a volunteer director for the next ten years.
Since 1985, Vivian has been involved at her parish as the Respect Life Coordinator and started a sidewalk ministry outside of the abortion clinic on North Main Street in Dayton as a part of that group. It was from there that the idea of opening a pregnancy resource center took root as there was no place close by to take anyone who left the abortion clinic. Prior years of experience volunteering for local pro-life organizations where she taught parenting classes, answered the hotline, and was a shepherding home parent for a pregnant teen, prepared Vivian well for starting a pro-life ministry near the abortion clinic in her neighborhood.
Under Vivian’s vision and leadership, ENLC has grown from a small all-volunteer pregnancy center to one of the largest Pregnancy Resource Centers in the country with 87 full and part-time employees, 150 active volunteers, and 250 prayer partners. ENLC operates seven (soon to be eight) Women’s Centers throughout the Archdiocese with the latest being Women’s Center-Mt. Healthy, opening in January 2021. Last year ENLC’s Women’s Centers served 5,000 clients, providing 4,500 ultrasound scans. More than 85% of pregnant women who were assessed as at-risk for abortion, chose life in 2019. ENLC’s Women’s Centers also provide classes and material support to pregnant and parenting clients and their partners to encourage healthy, productive families. Vivian’s leadership has been the key factor in the growth of ENLC for the past 31 years. Vivian is a visionary with an extraordinary amount of energy, tenacity, creativity, and perseverance who enjoys networking and coming up with new and better ways to assist the various communities that ENLC serves.
Besides the Women’s Centers, ENLC has also operated a fully medical prenatal care practice called Holy Family Prenatal for the past 20 years, providing over 2,000 prenatal visits in 2019. This Medicaid-only practice provides a pro-life continuum of care and support to low-income, newly pregnant clients. In addition, ENLC has a youth services department that served 8,500 students with either a 5-day or a 9-day program on sexual risk avoidance. This is the “prevention arm” of ENLC and helps youth to make healthy and holy decisions about their sexuality. Lastly, ENLC has a department called Marriage Works! Ohio which is very unique for a pregnancy center and was Vivian’s brainchild. This department provides marriage enrichment classes onsite and in churches in the various communities that ENLC serves. In addition, we provide mentoring and marriage therapy.
Several years ago Vivian initiated ENLC Consulting Services and over the years has mentored and trained pregnancy center directors in multiple cities in the US as well as Zambia and Ireland. In addition, she has made presentations on numerous occasions at the Heartbeat International conferences held each year in various cities in the US. She has contributed to literature about the pregnancy help movement and has been featured in various articles and books.
Disability Ministry: Vivian was a rehabilitation supervisor for the Rehabilitation Services Commission in Dayton and Springfield for twelve years before she left that work to expand her family by adopting a sibling group of three special needs children. Over the years, Vivian and her husband Steve have advocated for the disabled within many systems including multiple schools and community organizations. For the past 18 years, Vivian and her husband have helped raise five of their grandchildren who live with them.
Vivian has been a long-standing member of the Ohio Disability Support Council and the Rehabilitation Initiative of the Miami Valley. Vivian holds a master’s degree from Wright State University in Rehabilitation Management. Vivian has a long history of advocating for the disabled both in her professional and personal life as well as within her role of Respect Life Coordinator for her regional parishes for the past 35 years. Vivian has also been active in leadership of 40 Days for Life and has promoted Life Chain, the Living Rosary, and all other pro-life events held in the community by encouraging attendance and support of these events in her churches.
End of Life Issues: As the youngest of eight children, Vivian sadly has seen five of her siblings pass away; one sister was chronically ill for most of her life. In her last ten years of life, Vivian served as her guardian, power of attorney, and service provider. Vivian made time to visit her sister frequently, took care of paying her bills and household expenses, and provided needed services and coordination with multiple doctors, agencies, and care providers. That sibling passed away a few years ago and Vivian has also come along side and advocated for two other siblings with prolonged cancer and was never far from them during their long hospital stays. Vivian held three of her sisters as they passed from this life to the next. She has sponsored talks and programs on end of life and care for the chronically ill in her parishes and in the community.
Victims of Violence: Vivian was instrumental in authoring and implementing a four-week program at Elizabeth’s New Life Center on domestic violence to help provide education and resources for those suffering from intimate partner and domestic violence.
Advocacy on Other issues:
Racism: Vivian recently sponsored a program in her pastoral region on racism and invited a guest speaker who had been a victim of racial prejudice. Vivian and her husband together have adopted five African-American children and have 15 African-American grandchildren and great-grandchildren out of a total of 23. Due to the nature of her bi-racial family, Vivian has always been involved in race relations and working for justice.
Foster Care: Vivian and her husband served as foster parents for several years with Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley.
- How has the nominee consistently answered the call of the Gospel of Life (public information and education, pastoral care, public policy and prayer/worship)?
Answer: Vivian’s life is a witness to the value of each human being created by God. She and her family have lived a life of service, passion, and hard work on behalf of the various issues and causes to which she is devoted. Vivian has organized many seminars, days of reflection, and prayer services over the years. She is currently directing and hosting a series at her church entitled, “Living Pro-Life.” See answers above for more details.
- How has the nominee demonstrated a lifetime commitment to uphold the dignity of human life?
Answer: Vivian has not had an easy life with difficult circumstances surrounding her childhood. Her father died when she was only three years old, leaving her mother a widow with eight children to raise, the oldest of whom was only fifteen when their father died. Vivian also had a failed marriage and was a single mother for five years during which time she completed a second master’s degree and worked full-time in the rehabilitation field. As mentioned above, Vivian and her husband adopted a total of five African-American children and have a large blended family. Through a very difficult pregnancy in her mid-forties, Vivian witnessed time and again to hospital personnel as to the value of her unborn baby’s life who died shortly after birth. Vivian and her husband have buried three sons and have eleven living children.
More than anyone I know, Vivian has demonstrated a lifetime commitment to upholding the dignity of human life in her personal, parish, and professional life. Every fiber of her being speaks to her firmly held belief that all life is made in the image and likeness of God. She is truly fulfilling the calling God has placed on her heart to honor, nurture, and protect human life at every stage of its existence.
- How has the nominee promoted the dignity of life through advocacy in this Archdiocese?
Answer: Vivian is well known throughout the Archdiocese because of her long-standing work with Elizabeth’s New Life Center. She also served on the Archdiocesan Child Protection Review Board for ten years from 2007 – 2017. Vivian has been a Respect Life Coordinator in her parishes and region for 35 years.
Pictured: Vivian receiving the award from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, represented by Archbishop Schnurr.