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Today's Takeaway with Florine Mark

Jun 28, 2021

With Larry Oleinick, Founder of Nonprofit Heart 2 Hart Detroit


Did you know that the number of people experiencing homelessness increased dramatically due to the pandemic and associated job losses? With shelters currently at capacity, one out of every two homeless people is living on the street rather than in shelters. The pandemic only made the situation worse because self-quarantine, social distancing, and stay-at-home orders were virtually impossible to follow when you don’t have a stable residence. According to an annual “point in time” survey conducted in January 2019 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 17 out of every 10,000 people in the U.S. were experiencing homelessness. When we think of someone who is homeless, we have a very specific image in mind. But the 600,000 people in the survey of homeless individuals in the country proved that homelessness is a universal problem and not limited to any one geographic region, gender, or ethnicity.


The sheer scope of the homeless situation feels overwhelming to us. You may even ask yourself how one individual can help with a problem of this magnitude. My guest today, Larry Oleinick, is here to show how one person can truly make a difference. Larry is the founder of Heart 2 Hart Detroit; a local charity that personally delivers meals and much-needed supplies directly to homeless individuals. Larry’s mission demonstrates how one person can truly make a difference.


What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • What was Larry’s home life like growing up in Oak Park, MI?
  • How did Larry come up with the name “Heart 2 Hart”?
  • What was Larry doing before he started his nonprofit?
  • Did Larry or anyone close to him ever experience homelessness?
  • Where does Larry get the food?
  • Why do some people choose to stay on the street and not go to a shelter?
  • What is Heart 2 Hart’s unique offering?
  • How is the food prepared and distributed?
  • Did the pandemic complicate the ability to distribute food and find volunteers?
  • Does Larry get to know the people he helps?
  • Does Larry see people he’s helped get off the streets?
  • Has Larry ever felt threatened when helping people?
  • What does Larry deliver besides food to help people?
  • How does Larry help people sleeping on the streets brave the elements?
  • What is the biggest misconception about homeless people?
  • How do homeless people get their medical needs met?
  • How can we donate to or volunteer with Heart 2 Hart?


Today’s Takeaway:

The events of the past year have taken a toll on everyone, but perhaps none more so than a person who suddenly found themselves without a home in the midst of a global pandemic. We want to help those in need, but the magnitude of the problem feels so enormous and overwhelming. But Larry has demonstrated how even the smallest of steps can make a major impact. Larry’s spontaneous and selfless gesture one day on his lunch hour led to founding Heart 2 Hart. We never know when the actions we take today might blossom into something grander tomorrow. Instead of telling yourself you can’t possibly make a difference, why not focus on doing one small gesture today to bring a smile to someone’s face? Remember, every day is a gift and we’re so lucky to be here. When we set aside our own problems for a short while to help others who are less fortunate, we always feel better. We may even gain a new perspective about our own situation. When I lend a helping hand to others I feel a renewed sense of purpose and I’m much better equipped to handle my own challenges. I’m Florine Mark and that’s “Today’s Takeaway.”


“Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for nine years we get in the van and go down and try to make a difference for that day.” — Larry


“There’s a lot of issues that people that aren’t in the system don’t understand about shelters.” — Larry


“We’re actually like an urban cavalry that drives around the city of Detroit and finds people in the area where they are situated.” — Larry

Brought to You By:

Florine Mark

Mentioned in This Episode: 

Heart 2 Hart Detroit