Heartline celebrates 30 years of service

Adam Larck
Heart House provides shelter for women in need in both Woodford County and Washington for three-12 months.

In 1982, Marvin Cheney was instrumental in starting a shelter in Woodford County, according to Heartline Executive Director Trixie Jones.

“He saw the need for the shelter,” Jones said. “He talked to all the local pastors in the community to get them excited. He had great vision and he was willing to see past the overpass and see that the homeless in our area look different and are not living under an overpass.”

Now, 30 years later, Heartline, the faith-based organization assisting families in need, is still going strong in the community. Meanwhile, Heart House, the shelter helping homeless women and children in Woodford County and Washington, is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

“Most faith-based organizations don’t make it 30 years,” Jones said.

To commemorate the anniversary, the organization will be hosting a 30th Anniversary Concert and Reception at 6 p.m. Friday at the Metamora Township High School auditorium.

The event will start with a reception at 6 p.m., followed by performances by Testify and Rachel West Kramer at 7 p.m. Awards will also be given between performances.

“The highlight of the evening is that we’ll be announcing the volunteer of the year, because April is volunteer appreciation month,” Jones said.

Also being given is the Marvin Cheney Achievement Award.

“The Marvin Cheney Achievement Award, this will be the first one we give out, but it is going to a resident who has lived in our shelter who has taken herself from the pit, so to speak, to victory,” she said.

Jones said the winner, who will be announced Friday, has a video she will show of her testimony.

“Between me and her, we will get across that the community’s hours they spend volunteering and their money are truly helping,” Jones said.

While Heartline has been in the community for 30 years, Jones said they are starting to shift their focus.

“We’re going with, ‘If you give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach him to fish, he eats for life,’” She said. “So, we started classes with tons of topics from everything from budgeting to food preparation, food planning, menu planning, couponing … everything like that.”

The classes are free for the public and often have free giveaways.

Both Heartline and Heart House, which is an intermediate shelter that houses women in need for three-12 months, help cater to a person’s four components of need: mental, physical, emotional and spiritual.

Helping cater to those needs is a staff of three people and volunteers in the community.

“We’re here because of the community,” Jones said. “It’s because of their financial funding, their time and talents they’ve put into this organization. Otherwise, we would not be here.

“I know it sounds like a very corny pun that they are the heart of our organization, but they truly are. It is them that are the lifeblood that lets us do everything there.”

While the organization does accept donations, it also works with area churches and organizations to assist with families as well.

“We are blessed to be in Woodford County,” Jones said. “I can’t imagine there being a better community than Woodford County who sees our passion. I have so many wonderful pastors and churches I can call.”

The group is also getting ready to partner with Illini Family Ministries in St. Joseph.

Jones said the group called out of blue to ask if Heartline needed help at a time they needed items for children.

“It’s fabulous how things are being done,” she said. “More importantly, I can’t take credit for everything that’s being done. Previous directors can’t and our boards can’t. We’re here because God’s here. I get teary-eyed and tearful when I think about it because God is so involved in our organization.”