Women and children find freedom from their past though the 306 Foundation and the Toolbox4Life program.
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” Well, for Jane and John Hursh of Winter Park, serving others has become a very personal mission for them. Entrepreneurs at heart, and involved in philanthropy for years, they have spent much of their lives working to help people find hope and freedom.
Even from very early on in his working career in business and banking, John began to take notice of the needs around him and wondered how to help. “I recall walking to work in Chicago years ago and seeing people standing over grates in the sidewalk trying to keep warm in the bitter cold,” he says. “There I was in my expensive clothes. It really got me asking myself questions about the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots.’”
With a background in broadcast communications and marketing, Jane met and married John while working in Miami. After moving to Texas for John’s job and starting a family, she caught her husband’s vision to make a difference. Together they joined with Campus Crusade for Christ for a number of years, serving in various roles, both stateside and overseas. Eventually, they felt led to embark on an entirely new journey.
John’s vision to begin a nonprofit became clear on a trip to Memphis, Tenn. in the summer of 2011 to visit the National Civil Rights Museum in the Lorraine Motel. It was on this trip that the basis for the 306 Foundation was laid. Even in the name choice, as room 306 was where Martin Luther King, Jr. spent the last night of his life. John felt themes like, equal pay, health care, and freedom from sex trafficking of women and children are crucial. “’306’ is a community-focused nonprofit that invests in the lives of the whole community through women and children,” John says. “Specifically health care and education.”
Perhaps the most strategic and wholesome way to accomplish change is through partnership. The 306 Foundation offers several programs to teach participants life skills. The East End Market has been great in helping to teach women in the Toolbox4Life program how to do various kitchen tasks to utilize throughout life. Jessica Tantalo, the chef in residence, has helped teach women in the program food preparation techniques and kitchen skills. “Food is such a basic need,” Tantalo says. “Food empowers people to be able to provide themselves not only with nourishment but also with the ability to use that skill to provide income.”
Bringing the community together to make a difference in these women’s lives is one of the most rewarding things to see for the Hurshes. “We’re bringing together people that wouldn’t necessarily rub shoulders,” John says. “And it’s a great way to learn from one another.”