Even though Stephanie Bowman is a cancer survivor as well as a former drug addict and homeless mother, she’s not victim.
Stephanie Bowman is a cancer survivor as well as a former drug addict and homeless mother. But if there’s one thing she isn’t, it’s a victim.
The crises that Bowman experienced in her life inspired her to create One Heart for Women and Children nearly 20 years ago. The local nonprofit’s mission is to provide vital resources to families dealing with varying hardships in their daily lives. The idea is that any helper can provide one of more of five pieces to a puzzle that, once completed, can put any individual back on the right path. These puzzle pieces include support, resources, community, faith and hope.
“When I started One Heart, I just wanted to bridge the gap between people that needed and people that have,” she says. “I just wanted to help other women and children not end up in the place where I ended up.”
One Heart for Women and Children
One Heart for Women and Children had humble beginnings. Bowman stored donations in various garages and storage units that volunteers offered to her. Its home is now a 7,600-square-foot space in College Park that holds a community food pantry and thrift store, where families can volunteer to earn vouchers that can be exchanged for necessities such as clothing, shoes, household goods and furniture. Bowman and her army of volunteers assist more than 3,000 people every month.
“The journey here in life is amazing,” she says. “I feel that God just aligns the perfect people and the perfect opportunities around resources.”
Bowman grew up in a loving family with a strong faith. It was one defining moment, an abusive marriage, that shifted her world completely.
“Many of us are just one crisis away from being homeless,” she says. “When there’s a crisis moment, you can’t do it alone. None of us can do it alone.”
So when she was at her lowest, she gravitated toward people who would look her in the eyes and show love – people who would treat her as a person rather than a number. In much the same way, Bowman runs her nonprofit in a way that nourishes the mind, body and spirit.
“If I can help people with food then they can think a little clearer,” she explains. “Then, most of the time, when you think a little clearer, you have that little bit of hope. They see that little bit of light at the end of the tunnel so they can go just one more day.”
How You Can Help
- Make a donation toward a refrigerated box truck that volunteers will use to transfer additional produce and meat from grocery store partners and other business donors.
- Volunteer your time at One Heart for Women and Children’s food pantry or thrift store.
- Donate bus passes, hygiene items, shoes or clothing items to help someone in need get back to work.