The History of Heart 2 Heart and Living Free
Sharon Travis founded Heart 2 Heart Volunteers Inc. in the spring of 2013 and then Living Free in 2015. Sharon Travis was diagnosed with a chronic illness in her early twenties, so she was familiar with being bedridden and in and out of wheelchairs a large portion of her life. She believed that her Christian faith is what carried her through some of the most difficult circumstances in her life. In January and then again in March of 2013 she was hospitalized, she was very ill. Even when she was released from the hospital, she needed full-time care. She felt very blessed because she had a wonderful Christian caregiver. Besides the physical care, she also prayed with her, brought her communion, made her laugh and told her stories. One of the stories her caregiver told her was about the caregiver’s younger niece who had raised a disabled son. Soon after he died, the caregiver’s niece had a stroke and now lives permanently in a nursing home. Sharon was very moved by this story.
Sharon eventually went into remission. She was fully convinced it was because of her caregiver’s prayers, friendship, godly love and support. When she regained her strength, she went to visit her caregiver’s niece. It was at that time, she felt God was calling her to visit the sick. Sharon called a local nursing home and then met with the Activity Director. She told the Activity Director that she wanted to visit the patients that were in most need. Sharon was assigned about twenty patients. Her visits were very much anticipated by the patients and she started to see positive changes in them; some changes were very dramatic. She knew that there were many patients who needed visits, but they had no one. Sharon decided to take her cause to the churches. She believes, as Christians, we are called by our faith to visit the sick, and to help those who are weaker among us in every way that we can. Many local churches, after hearing her story, gave her permission to invite their members to join her cause and her ministry started to grow. Sharon also saw that patients, who had no family members or support systems, did not have the everyday items that they needed and things to make their lives more enjoyable. She started to buy things for the patients out of her own pocket. For example, she bought clothing, pictures for their rooms, flowers for their birthdays, food for patients who were home bound and in need. She also received monthly help for the patients from Covenant Community Church. That year 17 volunteers joined her team from various Christian denominations, with one vision– to come together and help the sick, the disabled and the elderly, spiritually, physically and emotionally to the best of their abilities. Sharon named the ministry Heart 2 Heart Volunteers.
In 2014, Heart 2 Heart Volunteers sponsored an essay contest for grades 3 through 12 to raise awareness for the elderly, sick, and disabled . The essay was co-sponsored by Wheeling Hospital, Ohio Valley Medical Center and East Ohio Regional Hospital, Peterson Hospital and local businesses in Wheeling. Heart 2 Heart Volunteers became incorporated by the State of West Virginia and designated by the IRS as a 501 (c)(3) by the end of that year. In 2015, Sharon immediately sought grants to help with her cause. She received three Grants from foundations in the local area that helped her provide many patients with needed items. Heart 2 Heart Volunteers Inc . is an all volunteer program. All donations go toward the patients and operational expenses.
Heart 2 Heart has had many accomplishments in the past 3 years including Making Wishes come true for patients, sponsoring Harvest Festivals at Peterson Rehabilitation Hospital, taking younger patients who are wheelchair bound to events throughout the Community, buying younger patients computers, and buying one younger patient, without full use of her legs, a new electric wheelchair. Most importantly was to bring them the human and the spiritual connection that they need. Heart 2 Heart Volunteers visit all Christians and non-Christians alike.
Heart 2 Heart also has seen how the local area has been been affected with the drug addiction problem. They believe that the faith-based community can play a pivotal role in this problem and, out of that belief, the Living Free Program was born. They will be using time-tested Christian Residential and Non-Residential Programs. This program will begin in early 2016. Heart 2 Heart has made a huge impact on the community in such a short period of time because of the passion of the people involved. Many lives have already been changed for the better and that is the continued goal of this organization.