Meet Gina Bonino, Assistant Executive Director at Heartbeat Of Toledo, a non-profit pregnancy and parenting support organization.
“If we change our thinking, we can change our path”, says Gina Bonino, who made her way from being a waitress to assistant executive director at non-profit helping women facing unplanned pregnancies. A licensed therapist by trade, initially she struggled with a lack of education and confidence that held her back to build a career and life for herself. Bonino grew up in poverty with parents struggling to pay bills. Soon, their father left her mom, who had to start cleaning offices to pay for her education, and finally got her RN.
After completing her associate in business, she felt lost. She even tried out a sales job, but it didn’t work out. That’s when her counselor encouraged her to invest in and work for herself. Inspired by her words, Gina went back to school to get her bachelor’s and master’s in social work. She became a licensed therapist and also started working at a women’s assistance center.
Elaborating on the concept behind the non-profit, she says, “At Heartbeat of Toledo, where I have been for 5+ years and act as Assistant Executive Director, I am able to make decisions that directly affect the care and support we are able to offer for free to the women and families in our community by way of free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, baby items as well as parenting education and support.”
It is a non-judgemental and safe space for women. Gina points out that pregnant women have three options- abortion, adoption, and parenting and they help them navigate through them. Whatever they choose, Heartbeat of Toledo supports their decision. They provide classes beginning in the first trimester and continue to support women for up to three and a half years. Because of the pandemic, classes have been moved online. After the course is finished, they give baby items and essentials to these women as an earning for the children. She provides them with mental health therapy in order to address their negative thoughts and mindset. Other than this, as a therapist at Anchored in Hope Counseling, LLC, she helps her clients overcome anxiety, depression, and any other mental health issues.
Like every working woman with a family back home, she too, is trying to figure out a balance between family and work. She wants to be fully present for the family at home and stay focused when she is at work. Also, even taking out time for self-care becomes a struggle often. All these years, Gina’s support network has grown, and she has continued to indulge in leadership training and personal development programs.
Working two jobs at the same time may appear to be a challenge, but not when you are equally passionate about both. When you finally find something you love, the time it takes doesn’t matter. It happened with Gina, and now she has given her all to support other women. Leaving an inspiring message for her readers, she says, “The time will pass anyways. Don’t discount your ability to work towards something great in that time. Invest in yourself, and you will be able to offer the best version of yourself to the world.”