Our Staff

Gayle Opp - Executive Director

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 Gayle began serving as director in October of  2019.  She is humbled to be serving God in this capacity after going  through a crisis pregnancy herself over 30 years ago.  Remembering the  promise in Romans 8:28…”And we know that for those  who love God all things work together for good, for those who are  called according to his purpose.”, Gayle hopes to use her past and  present to encourage those going through an unplanned pregnancy.  

She is a wife of 30 years to Curtis, a mother to five, a birthmother to one, and a grandmother to a sweet little girl. 

Lynelle Shirk - Assistant Director/Volunteer Coordinator

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Lynelle  was born in Pennsylvania but spent most of her childhood in South  Dakota. The second oldest of 8 kids, she has a passionate desire to see  kids thriving in stable, healthy homes. Homeschooled K-12, she graduated  and spent several months in Greece working in a refuge camp. The time  there inspired her to come back to her community and do all she could to  help families, especially single parents facing tough times. Being a  people person, Lynelle absolutely loves working here at HFL where she  constantly has opportunities to pour her energy and love into those  needing encouragement and support! 

Our volunteer staff

Darla Henely - Nursing Coordinator

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Darla was born right here in Charles City. In her youth, Darla’s family moved to Kentucky. Darla returned to Iowa to attend Luther College, pursuing a degree in nursing.  In 1982 Darla graduated with her BA in nursing, married her husband, Ken, and started her nursing career in the OB department at Floyd County Medical Center. In Darla’s 33 years at FCMC, in addition to working in OB, she also taught multiple classes to nursing staff and the general public, completing her career as the Education Director for FCMC.


Darla was part of the original group that recognized the need for a pregnancy center here in Charles City.  She was an active member of the HFL Steering Committee, helping to select the original Board.


Darla and Ken have 2 adult sons. In addition to volunteering at HFL, Darla enjoys spending time with family and friends. She also enjoys spending time outside, gardening, raising chickens, and caring for her dog and cats.

Joel Thompson - Chair of the Board

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 Joel was raised in a Christian family with four siblings living in central and SW Iowa.  After high school he went on to Iowa State University, graduating with a BA in finance.  He then had a couple different jobs, with one being in Menomonie, WI where he met his wife, Trisha.  They moved to Charles City in 2000 and have been blessed with five children, who have been homeschooled.  Joel’s family is part of a home-church that meets with several families from the area each week.  He enjoys spending time with his family as a husband and dad, supporting and coaching them in their activities but most of all striving to raise them to honor their Savior with their lives.  He also enjoys being outside, playing sports, and running.