The Power of a Summit Story: Joe Baker

Editor’s Note: What difference does Summit make? Why should you send a student? This week I’m posting alumni stories, originally printed in our monthly newsletter The Journal. These stories illustrate the difference Summit is making in the lives of it students, and the difference they’re making in their communities. For more information about our summer student worldview conferences, click here.

Joe and Ann BakerJoe Baker (Originally published December 2012)

Joe Baker began honing his pro-life apologetics skills as a fourth-grader wanting to buy a bike. If he could raise the most money for a local pregnancy center by soliciting donations, he’d win a gift certificate to a local bike shop. “Literally, every day I’d go door to door,” he said. When Baker encountered pro-choice folks on his rounds, he found himself having to argue the pro-life case. “I learned the arguments for pro-life as a fourth-grader to get this bike,” he said. “While doing that is where my convictions began to form and I became adamantly pro-life. It made me pro-life.”

Now 30 years old, his feet-to-the-fire training is paying dividends. Baker helped found Save the Storks, a pro-life organization aiming to convince mothers considering abortion to save their babies. Baker’s pro-life zeal is a perfect match with his entrepreneurial spirit: he’s also created an organization using cupcakes to argue the pro-life cause, runs a for-profit company selling intellectually provocative t-shirts to teens, and runs a precious metals investment company to finance his nonprofit work.

Baker, who has been living an itinerant lifestyle with his wife since their wedding in 2011, credits his years as student and staffer at Summit for opening his eyes to careful intentionality in how he spends his time and resources. “Hearing from so many profound and powerful lives made me want to live with the same sense of intentionality and meaning,” Baker said. “[The speakers I heard were] living their lives and making a tremendous impact.”

Save the Storks is Baker’s biggest current project. Pro-life activists have found the one thing that consistently convinces abortion-minded women to keep their babies is having an ultrasound. But many are unwilling to go to the trouble of cancelling their clinic appointment and scheduling an ultrasound at a cross-town location. Save the Stork’s solution was to outfit a bus with the latest ultrasound equipment, hire a nurse, and park outside an abortion clinic.

After one Stork Bus toured the country in 2011, Save the Storks then contracted with the Downtown Pregnancy Center in Dallas, Texas, which will permanently operate the bus around local abortion clinics. Baker said he plans in 2013 to release at least two more Stork Buses to pregnancy centers, with an eventual goal of having a bus in every major U.S. city. “[Pregnancy center workers] are the ones who make them work,” Baker explained. “It’s their vehicle, but we train them how to do it. You wouldn’t really be able to care for a woman’s needs if you’re traveling all over the country.”

Save the Storks and Cupcakes for Life — an organization training pro-life advocates in using cupcake giveaways to spark dialogue about abortion in local communities — are fueled by Baker’s business in precious metals, which he began trading while in college. A mentor advised him on finances, which led to the business that now allows Baker and his wife to devote 90 percent of their time to nonprofit work.

“My wife and I are capable of building something that could make a lot of money,” he said. “Our desire, though, is really just to build the things we want to, like Save the Storks.”

Baker admitted he has many more ideas for future projects, but knows he needs to develop and sustain his current works before he moves on. He credits Summit with teaching him how to think well on doing meaningful work: “Summit really set my trajectory. I don’t know where I would have ended up without Summit. I probably would have ended up doing some kind of different business, not really interested in living with such intentionality and meaning.”