Laugh 4 Hope to serve as pick-me-up for both audience, pregnant moms in need

Laughter can be some effective medicine. A trio of comedians — all dads with a clean bit — know that very well.

So does Tanya Gruszynski, executive director of Life Choices Women’s Clinic and its H.O.P.E. Mobile counterpart. People told her after last year’s Laugh 4 Hope event how great it was to see someone affected by a cancer battle or divorce truly smile again.

Laugh 4 Hope — 7 p.m. Feb. 25

Xavier College Preparatory
4710 N. Fifth Street

Tickets: $15 youth, $25 adults

Info: laugh4hopephx.com

“Life can be hard. We all just need to take a break,” Gruszynski said. “We do our best to keep it uplifting through the entire night. We just want two hours of uplifting humor.”

That’s what the annual Laugh 4 Hope is all about: keeping the audience laughing while using proceeds to bring much needed hope to women facing an unplanned pregnancy. Kenn Kington, president of the Clean Comedy Association, an author on relationships and a motivational speaker, is familiar with the work of pregnancy centers like Life Choices and the H.O.P.E. Mobile. His agent once ran one.

Dustin Nickerson

Kington, alongside Bob Smiley and Dustin Nickerson, are filling the Laugh 4 Hope lineup Feb. 25 at Xavier College Preparatory. Smiley is a 16-year comedic veteran while Nickerson is an up-and-coming comedian from Los Angeles who will appeal to the younger crowd and anyone who feels as average as him.

Organizers recommend Laugh 4 Hope as suitable for ages 8 and older. Fr. Billy Kosco bring teens from St. Henry in Buckeye each year.

Bob Smiley

“We believe all healthcare should be pro-life from conception to natural death and everything in between,” Gruszynski said. Patients at Life Choices are finding that too. They recognize Life Choices cares about the mom too, not just the baby.

Direct aid and emergency shelter are part of its services too. Life Choices helped one mother struggling through school obtain a computer and ultimately watched her graduate. Staff supported seven moms and their families with emergency shelter in 2016. One stayed a week, another two months and others a bit longer. Funds from Laugh 4 Hope, Life Choices’ only fundraiser, support its outreach.

Kenn Kington

“When people call us, they are in this crisis or traumatic situations — they’re unexpectedly pregnant and they were kicked out of the house or they were dropped off at an abortion clinic and told not to come back,” Gruszynski said.

Staff and volunteers at its two office locations and the mobile clinic remind the women they can carry the baby to term and even get practical help with parenting. Staff follows up with phone calls several times a month or week to help the women through a dark time.

The women’s hearts do change — as many as five moms aboard the mobile clinic changed their minds about getting an abortion late last year. Gruszynski credits some of it to the recent redesign of the exterior that now includes a quote from Mother Teresa.

“It’s a lot of work. We need all the help and support we can get,” Gruszynski said.

Life Choices helped 436 abortion-minded/vulnerable women choose life last year. The pregnancy center also offers routine healthcare including STD testing for women and men, cancer screenings and more.