“You need to leave this world better than when you found it.”

My dad didn't just say this, he lived it. Dad believed he was given a second chance when he survived his first bypass surgery at 50 years old. He decided to pay it forward by sending one percent of the profits from his business, the Hess Lumber Company in Bellefontaine, Ohio, to the poorest village in the western hemisphere.

With the help of the Catholic diocese and with mom translating, Dad wrote to Sister Alodie, a French nun who worked in the Haitian village of Calvaire, asking how he could help her.

“Feed the starving children,” Sister Alodie pleaded.

Sister Alodie used Dad’s donations to feed the villagers and dig a well to provide running water, latrines, and electricity. Calvaire’s population doubled once word spread about Dad’s generosity. Sister's favorite purchase was a megaphone that she used to keep the children in line (I couldn't help sharing the photo of Sister and her megaphone below!)

Dad enjoyed being a philanthropist, and told a news outlet once that his monthly check to Sister Alodie was the only bill he didn’t mind paying. He believed that the secret to a happy life was to help others in need. His donations to Sister Alodie, local churches, and other organizations were one of his proudest accomplishments.

So what’s with the teddy bear?

A year after Dad passed, Mom gave me a Christmas present “From Daddy and me.” A little apprehensive, I opened it carefully. Inside was this bear, DaddyBear, made from Dad’s shirts.

DaddyBear sits on a bookshelf above my desk, gently reminding me to make this world better. There would be no Heard without Dad. His impact remains.

On behalf of our entire Heard team, I wish you a safe, joyous and beautiful holiday.

Creative Corner - experience our clients' creations
"She has been through storms. She has been through addiction...No matter what your obstacle is, you can always overcome it."

Meet "Soul Survivor." Soul Survivor is an entity created by our Friends of Guest House client, and in this 1+ minute video she explains her life of tremendous challenge and difficulties, and ultimately her triumph. You will be absolutely amazed at her strength and courage, just like we are! These characteristics are typical of the clients we serve. They are resilient, strong, and committed, and ready to create and share their stories with us - and you!

Visit our Heard Gallery to see, read, savor, and enjoy more of our clients' original work.
Our Artist Showcase
Pssst, here's a secret. Our poetry teacher, Wendi Kaplan, was also the City of Alexandria Poet Laureate from 2016 to 2019. And here's another secret about Wendi: She's a therapist! In fact, she's one of the country's leading poetry therapists. Wendi has conducted poetry classes, readings, and events to create connection and build bridges among across Alexandria, including with our Heard clients. Pre-COVID you could find her at St. Elmo's Coffee Pub on the second Friday of each month leading poetry slams with other area poets. She does them virtually now, and we'll let you know when the next one is scheduled.

Wendi's Heard clients create beautiful poetry. In doing so they re-acquaint themselves with their own creativity and learn vital life skills.

One more secret: We pay our artists because we believe they deserve to be heard too. Won't you help support them and our work?
This program is funded by the City of Alexandria Arts Grant Program,
and generous donors like you!

Your donation supports our artists, who foster creativity, confidence, self-worth, and life skills to adults who are underserved, unknown, and unheard by offering them artistic expression through experiential instruction and participation. We are grateful for your support. Donate online through our secure website.

Select Heard as your Amazon Smile charity, and 0.5% of your eligible purchases on Amazon are donated to us! Just click on the logo.