14 some people will give out Valentines Day cards to loved
ones or show some expression of love from the heart.
But, perhaps this sweet holiday could be celebrated by having
a heart for the Heart House. What is the Heart House? Why is it
important and what can we do to help?
The Heart House is an organization whose main focus is to help
homeless persons re-enter society as productive citizens. Its
a place where families as well as individuals can come to get
their life together, where they can experience emotional and economic
healing. Their mission statement is not just a statement - it
is an actuality.
According to Craig Beckley, executive director of the Heart House,
they have seen 1600 people find healing. Over 400 of those people
have been children under the age of six, who come with their families.
Quite a few babies have been born while their mom lived at the
Heart House is a 501c3 non-profit organization that specializes
in caring for the homeless, giving them not just food and shelter,
but requiring them to find employment. Residents may stay there
anywhere from two to three months up to a year. During that time,
they are required to look for, find and pursue gainful employment,
if they are employable, as well as take classes on budgeting,
money management, nutrition and parenting. In addition, each resident
has daily chores while living at the Heart House.
Amazingly, their yearly budget is just $400,000 with only $20,000
of that money coming from federal monies. The rest is raised by
personal donations, a yearly fund-raising dinner, and by income
generated from the shelters apartment buildings, one in
Versailles, which has 24 units and one in Vevay which has nine
units. Heart House serves a five county area, operating in Ripley,
Dearborn, Franklin, Ohio, and Switzerland counties. The apartments
are used as transitional housing.
Heart House is run by a 10-member board with people representing
each county. Frank Goodpaster from Ripley County is the president
of the board. He noted that the Heart House exists to meet
the needs of people who are homeless and beyond that - to give
them the tools needed to go from homeless to productive citizens
in our communities. Beckley echoes that statement, adding,
the heart of Heart House is having a heart for people.
Heart House began as a dream of the Dearborn County Ministerial
Association, the local mental health association along with many
interested citizens. It is located on Highway 50 between Dillsboro
and Aurora. It was chartered in 1998 and the main facility opened
in March of 2002. The building is new, clean, well-kept and unlike
any other shelter.
This is not a government program, nor is it a free lunch.
Beckley said, We are not a warm bed, hot meal shelter.
It is, however, a place where homeless people can find hope again.
And, as a 60-bed facility, it is one of the largest in the State
of Indiana. Very few shelters have facilities where families can
stay together. Heart House does keep families together.
Those who are eligible must be homeless, with no place to stay,
provide a police background check, and be making progress in order
to remain at Heart House. They do not accept people who have been
in trouble for rape, child molestation, domestic violence, or
sexual crimes of any sort. This house truly is a safe house.
Heart House has a tremendous success rate, with 66% of residents
eligible for employment becoming gainfully employed and staying
that way. While no one is getting rich in this endeavor, their
8-year track record speaks for itself. Beckley assured The Versailles
Republican that we know what we can do for people. We are
a no-nonsense place and our goal, our hope of accomplishment is
that we can homeless-proof people so they never become
homeless again and live quality lives.
Heart House has never had to close its doors for lack of funds,
all its bills are paid, and it has no debt. And, taking a tour
of the place, one can see it is up-to-date, clean, and well kept.
The pantry is well stocked.
The Heart House can always use prayer and true giving from the
heart, whether it be in the form of a monetary donation or volunteer
act. While many people will never know what it means to be homeless,
the people who land at Heart House do.
At this Valentines Day, when the heart is of utmost importance,
why not remember the Heart House and perhaps invest more in people
than simple greeting cards?
To find out more about giving to this worthwhile cause, you can
contact the Heart House at 812-926-4890.