Everyday Hero: Providing food, life skills for families in need

By Ed Heiland, Reporter
Last Updated: Sunday, May 04, 2014, 11:46 AM EDT

Stephanie Bowman has seen life at its worst.

"Fifteen years ago, I was addicted to drugs, and there was a lot of domestic violence," Bowman said.

But, after family and friends helped get her clean and sober, Bowman decided her calling was to help others.

The result: One Heart for Women and Children.

"The biggest gift that we have to give here is that gift of hope. To be able to say you know that just because this is where you are toady, it doesn't define who you are," she said.

What began in Bowman's garage six years ago has grown into a 5,200-square-foot building in College Park. The move opened another door.

"Pretty quickly, we saw that there were so many donations that were coming in that it was going to be a great opportunity -- a great way for us to be able to pay for the services here; pay for the rent, pay for the food," Bowman said.

About 10,000 pounds of food are bagged each month. The bags of food on one particular night went out to 25 families. The food shelves empty out pretty quickly. Fortunately, Second Harvest Food Bank will resupply the shelves at 18 cents per pound.

Volunteers are important. They are paid for their time with $10 vouchers, which they donate to people in need. The vouchers can be exchanged for food or clothes.

"Each and every one of us has something to give -- and a lot of times, it's that pure gift of time so as people come in and volunteer here at One Heart, they know they're giving that gift of time," Bowman said.

But, Bowman doesn't think small. One Heart's three-year goal is to double the space, feed more people, teach life skills and get computers.

"It's a humbling experience, but I'm so grateful that I walked through each and every part that I did in my past so that I can share the experience, strength and hope with other people," she said.