HEART AND HAND HOUSE, INC., located in Barbour County, serves local families directly through its food pantry, home repair and construction program, layette program, and provision of limited emergency financial assistance for payment of utility bills, rent, and certain medical expenses.
During the school year we also provide healthy snacks on weekends and holiday breaks for children through our Backpack Feeding Program. At Christmas, boxes containing food for a special holiday meal, hygiene items, cleaning products, and devotional material are provided to income-eligible families. Books, toys, and underwear are also made available. In addition, gifts of hats, gloves, and small toys are presented to children enrolled in the local Head Start program.
Heart and Hand operates two thrift stores and also supports local economic development and encourages the use of locally produced foods through our Community Garden Market.
For more than 50 years Heart and Hand House Inc., has ministered to the needs of low-income families in Barbour County, WV. Though much has changed since our humble beginnings in 1965 as a two-year, $50,000 grant project of the Women’s Society of World Service of the EUB Church, our mission has remained the same: to minister to the physical, mental, spiritual and emotion needs of in-crisis families and individuals. In a rural county that continues to be plagued by poverty and related issues, our work is as relevant – and necessary – today as it was when the ministry began.
In the book “When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor and Yourself,” authors Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert suggest that poverty is not merely the lack of something, be it food, shelter, or clothing, but, rather, it is the result of broken relationships — relationship with God, relationship with self, relationship with others, or relationship with creation. They suggest, therefore, that poverty alleviation is a ministry of reconciliation – a mending of broken relationships. It goes beyond providing financial assistance or tangible goods; it’s about loving others with the same love God has shown to us. It’s about transforming something broken into something beautiful.
While Heart and Hand programs do provide food, clothing, shelter, and other critical needs, each encounter also offers an opportunity to engage and build relationships. In our food pantry and baby pantry, staff does more than just hand out boxes of food or diapers. They listen, encourage, and help connect individuals with other resources they may need. Our thrift stores encourage self-sufficiency and promote self-esteem by providing a welcoming environment and an affordable place to shop. The Community Garden Market not only offers an income opportunity for those who have a green thumb, but also encourages healthier food choices and provides information on how to prepare healthy, affordable meals. Our Home Repair and Construction program gives families an opportunity to participate in the work that is being done, giving them some ownership of the process and encouraging them to form bonds of friendship with the volunteers who have come to serve. The Backpack Feeding program lets children know that someone cares and wants them to focus on doing their best in school, not worry about whether they have enough to eat. Our Christmas Baskets provide food and other items to encourage and enable families to enjoy holiday time together. In all our services areas, staff often get the opportunity to pray, share their faith, or otherwise provide words of hope and encouragement.
While our work is often measured by the number of food boxes we distribute from the food pantry, how many articles of clothing we give away through the thrift stores, or how much is spent on repairing homes or constructing a new house, the real measure of what we do is found in the impact of relationships that are built with those who come through our doors. It’s a measure that’s difficult to calculate at times. Often we are the seed planters or, perhaps, the waterers that the Apostle Paul speaks about in 1 Corinthians 3:6, — through a kind word spoken, a prayer of encouragement, or a welcoming smile. When we are privileged to see the fruit produced by living out Jesus’ command to love our neighbors, it’s at that moment we find that we are blessed as much, or more, than those we serve.