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Today's Takeaway with Florine Mark

Nov 28, 2022

With Larry Oleinick, Founder of Nonprofit Heart 2 Hart Detroit


Over the past few years, substance abuse and mental health issues increased significantly as a result of the isolation brought about by the pandemic. For these vulnerable individuals, the added loss of jobs or familial support led to a noticeable increase in the homeless population. Whereas in the past, veterans or the elderly made up a majority of the homeless, today there’s a growing number of younger individuals living on the streets. Although many of these young people are motivated to seek employment, they find it increasingly difficult without a steady paycheck or stable housing. For a homeless individual, simply showing up to their job or even an interview, wearing clean clothes and freshly bathed can be a huge challenge.


But sometimes out of the most devastating of personal experiences, we find miracles do happen. What if I were to tell you the story of a military veteran living on the streets whose entire life changed after a chance meeting with a small group of local volunteers? Offering him a sandwich, the group said they visit that same spot several days a week with food and personal hygiene items and encouraged him to come back. Soon, he became a regular visitor to the group, seeking not only their sandwiches and hot coffee but drawn to their welcoming smiles and friendly conversation. The volunteers didn’t judge him or make him feel uncomfortable. In time, he opened up to them and shared his story. With their support and encouragement, eventually, this individual found the will to seek recovery from his drinking. With the aid of the Veterans Administration, he found a good job and housing assistance.


It took a few years but as this individual continued to excel at his job, he was promoted to a managerial position that allowed him to purchase his own home. Today, he travels around the country speaking on behalf of his company and sharing his personal story! What a miracle! 


The Oxford dictionary defines the word miracle as “a highly improbable or extraordinary event, development, or accomplishment that brings very welcome consequences.” Typically, when we think of the word miracle, we attribute divine intervention but some miracles happen through the power of human intervention. Sometimes, even the simplest, well-intentioned act can lead to the most extraordinary consequences and enrich a person’s life in ways we never anticipated.


At a time when many of us may be feeling cynical and world-weary, it’s comforting to learn that good people and good deeds still exist and that by acting in ways that benefit each other, we can seemingly rise above the chaos to actually give birth to miracles. If you want to learn more how a small, simple gesture such as showing up with a friendly word of encouragement, a hot cup of coffee, and a nutritious sandwich can help someone overcome the hardest of circumstances, you’ll want to listen to Florine’s interview with Larry Oleinick of Detroit-based charity, Heart 2 Hart from June of 2021.


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 not to go to a shelter?
  • What is Heart 2 Hart’s unique offering?
  • How is the food prepared and distributed?
  • Did the pandemic complicate distributing food and finding volunteers?
  • Does Larry have a relationship with the people he helps?
  • Does Larry see people he’s helped actually get off the streets?
  • Has Larry ever felt threatened when helping people?
  • What does Larry deliver besides food to help people?
  • What’s the biggest misconception about people sleeping on the street?
  • How do those sleeping on the streets get their medical needs met?
  • How can people 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 build relationships with people. We just don’t hand them something and go away. We have ongoing conversations.” — Larry
  • “We have to make sure we give them what they need.” — Larry 
  • “How do we really know how we would react if certain things happened to us?” — Larry
  • “We’re not doctors, we’re not nurses, we’re just nice people.” — Larry
  • “It was my heart giving to the people who were in Hart plaza.” — Larry
  • “It may be a play on words but it was really just hearts connecting.” — Larry
  • “As I had always volunteered in the past, it would be great to put a little energy into giving back to people.” — Larry
  • “A lot of people are just walking around in pain.” — Larry 


Brought to You By:

Gardner White Furniture


Mentioned in This Episode: 

Heart 2 Hart Detroit

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