Aubrey Schlackman had just finished grocery shopping. Her car was loaded with sacks of food and other items, and there in the backseat were her two small boys — both itching to get back home.
But on this particular day, Schlackman wasn’t in a major rush. She meandered through the streets of Argyle, driving just fast enough not to slow anyone down but not too fast that she couldn’t appreciate the pretty ranch-style properties dotting the scenic view in front of her
That’s when she noticed one property with a “For Sale” sign — and suddenly, a life-changing vision came to her.
“I had this entire nonprofit ministry that we now call Blue Haven Ranch in my head,” Schlackman said. “I could see it and what it was at completion — a large-scale maternity ranch with multiple cottages for single pregnant mothers with children. I went home and told my husband, Bryan. I was so nervous, but he agreed. He said, ‘Yes. This is what we are meant to do.’”
She added, “There are plenty of moms out there who have to do pregnancy by themselves. This was our chance to help.”
The Schlackmans have always been deeply rooted in their faith and routinely look for ways to give back, whether that be through leading bible study groups, volunteering their time with other nonprofits, partnering with other organizations and groups, or being active members of The Village Church. But they’ve always had a heart for single pregnant mothers and go out of their way to offer help to those mothers who occasionally cross their path.
The only problem was that they never felt like they could make a significant enough impact. The harsh reality is that countless mothers find themselves caring for their children alone because of difficult or abusive situations and are now pregnant again. Confronted with this enormous new challenge when they’re already overwhelmed, many women feel the pressure to make a desperate decision — abortion.
Blue Haven Ranch seeks to be an answer to that problem.
Though they don’t have the resources yet to quickly gobble up a ranch-style property like the one Aubrey saw on the way home from the grocery store that day, they’ve spent the last year putting in place a series of baby steps that already are creating a world of difference.
In their beginning phase as an organization, they are serving these women through support groups, bible studies in their home, providing weekly meals to their families, offering billing assistance, career development, and teaching them skills in homesteading.
They have a brand new website and, with help from the Women’s Nonprofit Alliance in Plano, Aubrey launched her nonprofit faster than had she tried to do it alone. From there, she was connected with a nonprofit consultant and was gifted four free coaching sessions designed to give her tips on how to eventually turn her big dream into a reality.
“That was the turning point for me,” Aubrey said. “You have this big, beautiful dream, but how do you get there? We may not have all the resources now, but for us, it’s about taking it one step at a time and then moving on to the next big step.
“We are working within the means we have now to help these women. Eventually, we’d love to acquire a few rental houses, and we are actively looking at one right now that just so happens to be right behind our property. It’s our chance to love on them and help them throughout their daily life.”
Naturally, the end goal is to create a single property that can be a safe haven for single pregnant mothers everywhere, a place that provides supportive community, gospel discipleship, and farm therapy before, during, and up to a year after the mother delivers her new child.
With Blue Haven, these mothers would have a gospel-based ranch for them and their children to live, have time to heal, and learn to become self-sufficient, healthy members of society. Blue Haven Ranch would offer everything from housing and meals to assistance with bills and rent, using nature to work through past traumas and emotions, and offering developmental guidance to help them get back on their feet and act.
The benefits would be life-changing, Aubrey said. One mother they are working with right now already has two children and is expected to need a cesarean section when she delivers her baby. Sadly, she cleans houses for a living and had shared with Aubrey that she didn’t think she could take more than two weeks off from work after having her baby. With help from Blue Haven Ranch, this mother is receiving help with bills and rent to lessen the burden so that she can take the necessary time she needs to be with her children and their new sibling.
In Aubrey’s eyes, it’s the start of something really special.
“I see it as a community where we’d live with these moms and just do life,” Aubrey said. “There are other programs out there in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and they all have their niche. With ours, we focus on single pregnant mothers who already have children. We’d take them in at any time during their pregnancy and continue helping them up to a year postpartum. We want them to be independent when they are done. We figure, if we are going to do something like this, we want to do it long enough and the right way so that every woman we help has a stronger future.”
If you’d like to learn more about Blue Haven Ranch, their vision for the future, and how you can get involved, visit www.bluehavenranch.org.