Hart Felt Ministries held its 12th annual meeting on February 8th. The meeting gave the organization a chance to thank God and its members for another wonderful year of serving and helping the Jacksonville community. (more…)
Hart Felt Ministries hosted its 3rd Annual Silent Auction at Hidden Hills Country Club. (more…)
In July, Julie Hart Peoples, MSW, MS Ed., moved to Jacksonville and accepted part-time position (more…)
In the summer of 1947, 3 year old Jane was the last in her family to catch the flu. “My mother noticed I was dragging my right leg,” she recalls. Assuming it was a lingering side effect, the doctor told Jane’s mother to keep an eye on it, but by the time Jane got to the end of the sidewalk outside, she collapsed. Like many children in America during the time, Jane was diagnosed with polio, an infectious disease caused by a virus that affects nerves and can lead to paralysis. Jane spent four weeks paralyzed in the hospital. After she recovered and throughout her childhood, the only
reminder of the disease was the brace on her leg and her weakened immune system.
After college she taught English, then worked for the FBI as an intelligence analyst. But her career was cut short due to post-polio syndrome, and she is now wheelchair bound. Her husband shares the same diagnosis. “I’ve always believed in making the most of what you’ve got,” he says cheerfully. “I have met so many kind people through the years. There are still good people in this world.”
“It is hard on you,” Jane says. “But thanks to Meals on Wheels and Hart Felt Ministries, we aren’t alone when we need help. My father was a Hart Felt volunteer at age 90, and he told me about the organization. They have helped us in many ways like renovating our bathroom and sending our volunteer Alan, to
mow our lawn for the past five years.”
Tragedy has intertwined itself throughout Linda’s life, yet she holds onto a philosophy of “take time to smell the roses” and be grateful for each day.
An Ohio native, she suffered a head injury at age 13 when struck by a drunk driver. By age 16 she had dropped out of high school and was married and pregnant. She has held many jobs, but all have been overshadowed by her ongoing mental health problems.
Living in Florida since 1973, she continues to fight both emotional and physical health issues, including cancer. Her 20-year-old mobile home is in disrepair, and her fixed income barely covers expenses. “My kitchen floor is sinking due to water damage and rotting wood. I don’t feel safe walking around. I would have a ramp built, but my floor is not strong enough to support an electric wheelchair.”
Thanks to Hart Felt Ministries she received an air conditioning unit to survive the summer months, but as the winter months approach she worries how she
will stay warm. Last year she kept a small heater in her bedroom and stayed under electric blankets as much as possible.
Through the years Linda has often given what little she has to help friends and acquaintances, some of whom have taken unfair advantage of her generosity. “There is something to learn from every situation,” she says, remaining positive. “It could be worse. At least I have a roof over my head and food to eat.”
It was a fall day in 2011 when Betty, a 62-year-old Jackson, NC native, met Susan Picard, her potential Hart Felt volunteer. Betty was packing for an across-town move and was at rock bottom due to depression, which she has suffered from since her son’s death in 1977. “I had cut myself off from society, was barely eating and was just waiting for death to knock on my door,” she says. Hart Felt Ministries came instead.
The visit was a surprise since she had been on Hart Felt’s waiting list and had reached out to other organizations to no avail. Despite the added distance, Susan agreed to volunteer. Their friendship has been life changing. “I thought, ‘If Susan is going to come over here, the least I can do is shower,’” Betty says. Soon, she was taking walks, growing in self-confidence and setting and achieving personal goals. In May, she earned a wellness certificate after completing 16 weeks of group therapy.
Betty, who lost her peripheral vision due to glaucoma, admits life has not been easy. But she now sees the many reasons she has to live. Recently, with Susan’s help, she gained access to the JTA bus system. She now spends her days visiting museums, going to the Jacksonville Landing and contemplating ways she can give back. Most importantly, wherever she is, chances are she is smiling.
Who Is Hart Felt?VISION: A community where frail seniors no longer fear where and how they age.
MISSION: To bring our vision to reality, we utilize a network of community volunteers to demonstrate love and provide, at no charge, non-medical services that build relationships, enhance environments, and preserve the independence of Jacksonville’s frail seniors.
SERVICES: Transportation, Housekeeping, Shopping, Yard Work, Respite, Companionship, Minor Home Repairs, Wheelchair Ramp Construction, and Advocacy