The needs within our community have changed significantly in the past year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Individuals who had felt secure in their jobs were furloughed or laid off with no prospects for employment. Businesses were shuttered, some permanently. When Stephanie Bowman, founder of One Heart for Women and Children, saw the impact of this crisis, she did what she does best: stepped in with love and compassion for her neighbors.
The College Park based nonprofit’s mission has always been to provide vital resources to families dealing with varying hardships in their daily lives. The idea is that any helper can provide one or more of five pieces to a puzzle, which can be found right in One Heart’s logo. This includes support, resources, community, faith and hope — we all have something to offer.
During the pandemic, One Heart has been able to provide food for over 3 million meals to individuals and families in need throughout the community. Its food pantry is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“Most of the families and individuals that have visited our Community Food Pantry are having to make the decision to either buy food or pay their rent or electric bill,” Bowman says. “As we offer that glimmer of hope with love and compassion while they are walking this part of their journey, we are making an impact in their lives with fresh and healthy food for their family.”
Community partnerships range from individuals who donate their time and resources to grocery stores such as Publix, Trader Joe’s and Sprouts that donate items in addition to allowing the nonprofit to purchase nonperishable items like meat, eggs and milk at a shared cost. This helps bring One Heart’s food cost to $25 per family — enough food for an entire week.
“We wouldn’t be where we are without our partnerships,” Bowman says.
In this season of need, many people have been turning to One Heart for the first time ever, experiencing a “hand up” through the gift of fresh food. Some have been former One Heart volunteers who were familiar with the mission and knew they had a safe space there. Others have been new community members from all walks of life and income levels.
While there is always accountability for anyone who walks through One Heart’s doors, they are never asked for their financials or turned away for any reason. An individual’s previous job, where they live and what they drive has nothing to do with their current need.
“The beautiful part of it is there is a place that people can come where their needs are met, but they also know that they qualify just by coming,” Bowman says.
One Heart thrives with community support. If you’re interested in donating your time, talents or treasures, you can find more information online at OneHeartForWomenAndChildren.org. Also, follow the organization on social media at Facebook/OneHeartMatters, where current urgent needs are posted.