President and Executive Director, Hart Felt Ministries Inc.
Our vision is a community where frail seniors no longer fear where and how they age. To bring that vision to reality, we use a network of community volunteers to demonstrate love and provide, at no charge, nonmedical services that build relationships, enhance environments and preserve the independence of Jacksonville’s frail seniors. Services include transportation, visits and respite, housekeeping, shopping, repairs and wheelchair ramps.
Incorporated April 18, 2003. Program launched July 1, 2004. This is a grassroots organization begun in Jacksonville. I lived in Atlanta for more than 20 years, but when my husband died in 1990, I knew God had a special plan for my life. When I made a first-time, one-day business trip in 1999 to Jacksonville, I knew this was where I was supposed to be and this was where God’s work awaited me. I secured a job transfer but knew it was only serving to put me where God could use me most.
Referrals are received from a five-county area, but we actively serve only where we have volunteers. We try to match volunteers with clients who live within eight miles. We’re all about “neighbors helping neighbors.” Over the nine-year span of our services, we have served more than 850 frail seniors. In the past year, our 180 volunteers have donated more than 10,500 hours of service to 425 clients. We have a waiting list of another 400 people in ZIP codes throughout the Jacksonville area. Our work has only just begun to scratch the surface of the needs of Jacksonville’s frail and homebound seniors.
My biggest challenge is to let God lead and to resist “grabbing the wheel” myself. Any well-run nonprofit faces one decision after another and one challenge after another, but being faith-driven is particularly vital to Hart Felt’s success.
My biggest satisfaction comes from time spent in the field with the clients and volunteers. Volunteers choose their clients from our waiting list and staff members facilitate the introductory visits. Those moments are so uplifting for everyone.
Mount Vernon, Ill.
First experience with community service
Before moving to Jacksonville, I really was not active in volunteerism. Once here, I became a Stephen Minister through my church and a hospice volunteer, visiting with people in nursing home settings.
Your job before Hart Felt Ministries
I was in the corporate world — 16 years with Johnson & Johnson and 12 years with ConAgra Foods.
Oct. 13: 6:30-9:30 p.m., Hidden Hills Country Club. Annual dinner and silent auction. Tickets are $50 per person, sponsorships available for $1,000 VIP tables. We have a waiting list of more than 130 repair projects and more than 100 wheelchair ramp projects. Event proceeds will enable us to meet more of these needs. Hart Felt absorbs all costs so the clients receive assistance without any lien being placed on their property and without draining their own limited financial resources.