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:
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.”
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