I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. (Revelation 2:19)
At the end of 2020 we had hoped that the new year would bring normalcy back to our lives. While 2021 was anything but “normal”, Hearts for the Homeless continued our work to nourish the community through dignified service. Thanks to the help of partners, volunteers, staff, and donors we were able to expand our outreach programs, maintain valuable relationships, and feed those in need. As we look back at the past year, we reflect on the successes that bring hope for furthering our mission in 2022.
Initiatives & Projects
As one of our largest projects in 2021, the Hearts Harvest Food Pantry & Café celebrated its opening at its permanent location, which includes a can and bottle recycling center. The food pantry is a Client Choice shopping experience, enabling shoppers to choose what items they want and best suit their family needs. The redemption center provides the community with a convenient place to return their cans and bottles. Hearts Café will open later this year. Proceeds from the café and the redemption center will go back into the ministry to help serve more members of the community through our outreach programs, like the food pantry.
In July, Hearts changed the location of the Mobile Food Pantry from offsite to where our ministry center is located. Families in our community are invited to come as often as we have them as a supplement to Hearts Food Pantry. Hearts Mobile Food Pantry is held every 4th Wednesday of the month at Hearts Outreach Center, from 1pm to 3pm.
As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. (2 Thessalonians 3:13)
West Side Promise Neighborhood invited Hearts to participate in their series of a Summer Lunch Program for the Buffalo City Schools. In attending three of these events, we were able to reach Riverside area families who didn’t know Hearts existed. We introduced our food pantry and provided information on how to use our resources before sending the children and their families home with to-go meals for the whole family, stuffed animals, books, activity books for the kids, and leather-like carry bags for the parents. The families really enjoyed the festivities and were especially happy that we chose to come to their neighborhood.
Hearts continues to provide for the homeless shelters that the Restoration Society operates, and our partnership grows as they open more shelters. Through their Code-19 program, the Restoration Society shelters homeless men and women during COVID. In 2021, we were preparing and sending 40 hot meals per shelter, seven days a week. We have noticed that the homeless who are sheltering in place at the Restoration Society are often those who would otherwise be standing in Hearts’ meal distribution line each night. Providing these hot meals to the shelters ensures they are able to get their meal.
Retired Buffalo Bills linebacker, Mark Maddox, came to town the weekend of September 24th and prior to his arrival, he contacted Hearts to see how he could get involved. He was hoping to serve breakfast to those in need and we immediately thought of Buffalo Dream Center’s Curbside Church that occurs every Sunday. Mark is no stranger to doing charity work in Buffalo and he fit right in with Hearts’ mission to serve the community by serving 100 meals at the downtown library before Curbside Church. Mark and his team touched Buffalo through the breakfast meals and their big hearts for the underserved.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)
In 2021, we were able to bring full holiday meals to our clients again. Hearts was able to provide an Easter Dinner to two homeless shelters for homeless guests to enjoy. Throughout the summer, clients standing in our feeding line were surprised with extra takeaway meals of a hot dog, macaroni salad, and chips in addition to their regular meals. This was thanks to a business donor and transport by Cathy, a friend of Hearts, and we were also able to send the hot dogs to Holy Cross Homeless shelter along with baked beans and chips.
In their annual tradition, our friends and volunteers at Zion Dominion Global Outreach Church provided a Thanksgiving Dinner for the homeless on Friday, November 26th. This year the meal was takeaway, but the comfort of home cooking and holiday feeling came with every full course meal of turkey and the trimmings. That same feeling of seasonal camaraderie was felt during our annual Christmas Eve dinner, carried out with our partners at The Buffalo Dream Center. Clients were picked up and transported by bus to the Dream Center to enjoy the festivities including entertainment, gifts, and their own personal bag of homemade Christmas Cookies