DELHI TOWNSHIP, Ohio – Month after month since the start of this year, Miranda Heard has dedicated her time and paychecks to serving others.
She prepares lunch bags – dozens at a time – then drives around to donate food to the homeless.
“Normally I do 50. But last time I was 50, and I had more people. So now I’m making 100, ”said Heard, 64, surrounded by crisps, cookies and water bottles stacked in her home in Delhi township. “As I see him grow up, then I will grow up with him.”
Heard does all of this under the auspices of her nonprofit called Praise These Hands, but she does not yet have 501 (c) (3) status and cannot offer a tax deduction for contributions.
So, while she plans to sell t-shirts and other items to raise money for her work, she has so far said that she pays for all the food she prepares and packs every month.
She does this, she said, because she was homeless herself when she moved from Cincinnati to Los Angeles in 2013. She lived in shelters on Skid Row and got back on the maid. track with the help of the Union Rescue Mission and the Downtown Women’s Center there.
She returned to Cincinnati in 2017 and works full time packing items for customers and shipping them. Now she is determined to give back, she said, and to help those in difficulty. Additionally, Heard said she doesn’t consider her paychecks to be hers anyway.
“It’s not my money,” she said. “It’s the Lord’s money.
Joe Altepeter, director of social enterprise at the Downtown Women’s Center, said he wasn’t surprised to hear about Heard’s work here.
He remembers when she was enrolled in the centre’s vocational training program, he said.
“She was really amazing to see,” he said. “I didn’t know much of his personal history around his homelessness. But I just saw this incredible person with incredible tenacity.
The center helped Heard find retail employment after completing the program, he said, and she became a spokesperson for the organization. She even went with Altepeter for an interview with KTLA 5, a Los Angeles TV station, to talk about what the Downtown Women’s Center meant to her.
“We actually received a gift of $ 25,000 from a woman who saw Miranda on the news program and was amazed at the story she told,” Altepeter said. “She has a really good way of captivating people.”
Heard has spoken often of her return to Cincinnati, he said, and she called him for advice before starting her nonprofit.
“She talked about wanting to give back where she received,” he said.
And that’s exactly what Heard is doing now.
‘I want to give’
One recent morning, she had set up a folding table in her living room, stocked with rows of paper bags, boxes of crisps and cookies, and dozens of water bottles stacked nearby.
She washed her hands, put on plastic gloves, and began putting pieces of chicken in a large plastic container before breaking it into smaller pieces.
“I’m going to make two kinds of chicken salad,” she said. “I’m going to make one with onions and green peppers and one without because, you see, I know how people are.”
Some people don’t like onions and peppers, she said, and she wants the people who get her food to benefit.
“Right now it’s just about feeding the homeless,” she said. “It’s not about me. These are the homeless.
Heard can afford to cook and distribute lunches once a month, she said, but she’s hoping to grow.
“I just want to help, that’s all. I want to give, ”she said, crushing the pieces of chicken. “I’m thinking of, will they take advantage of it. I think about it, I wish I could do more. See right now, my funds are limited. But I still save enough to do this.
That’s not all she does.
Heard said people gave her boxes of food which she then distributed to families in need. She started giving them to Santa Maria Community Services for distribution, she said, after seeing an article about the agency on the news.
“Miranda came to our office unexpectedly on a Friday and told me she had all these boxes of food that she was getting. And she wanted to give it to us, ”said Francesca Phillis, case manager for the Stable Families program in Santa Maria. “I think within a week all 17 boxes were gone.”
The boxes were filled with non-perishable foods like ramen noodles, peanut butter and granola bars, she said, and the families served by Santa Maria were eager to get them.
“I make it happen”
“It means so much because some of them just live on, you know, dollar for dollar,” Phillis said. “And if we can give them food so they don’t have to spend it on the grocery store, it really helps their budget. “
Heard said she wanted to do more.
She wants to be able to prepare and distribute lunches more frequently, she said, and one day have a food truck that will deliver hot meals to the homeless.
She dreams of being able to also distribute soap, t-shirts, socks and even sports shoes.
But for now, Heard said she was listening to the Lord and doing what she could.
“It’s tough, but I’m making it happen,” she said. “I don’t have a jack. But I have the Lord. And that’s all that matters to me. I am blessed.”
Along the way, she listens to stories of people in pain, of men and women going through some of the same struggles she experienced when living in Los Angeles.
“I told my folks in California, I’m going to buy myself some clown shoes,” Heard said. “With your usual shoes you hear these stories, you pump yourself up. Your feet hurt, your heart hurts, your mind hurts. So I think I’m going to get some clown shoes, and I can keep it all, you know.
Heard laughed a lot at the thought, saying, “I’m getting silly like this.”
She loves to laugh, she says, almost as much as she enjoys giving back.
Miranda Heard said she welcomes donations to help Praise These Hands work, but these donations are not tax deductible. For more information, send an email to [email protected]
Stories of acts of kindness appear weekly on WCPO 9 News and WCPO.com. If you are aware of an act of kindness that you think should be highlighted, send an email to [email protected]