Hearts Full of Love was established three years ago and is dedicated to helping the homeless people of Parker County get back on their feet.
Hearts Full of Love has four main ministries — Front Porch Friends, Breakfast Blessing, Rapid Re-Housing and Hearts Full of Love Temporary Housing.
“Several months ago we were looking at trying to reach out to folks in the [Interstate] 20/Main Street corridor and the church that I go to, Central Christian Church, all got together and we thought we would start doing something called Front Porch Friends,” Hearts Full of Love board member Michael Miller said. “Every Saturday people from the church will fix breakfast and folks from Hearts Full of Love will set up things like toiletries, Bibles, clothing, water and things like that.”
Breakfast Blessing is where members of the organization will take items to Horseshoe Bend to help some of the people.
“There are a lot of people that meet Category 1 homeless in Horseshoe Bend. They’re living in a trailer or in a shed without running water or electricity and those folks especially can’t make it to town,” Hearts Full of Love President Tony Froid said. “So we do that once a month in Horseshoe Bend. Rapid Re-Housing is a partnership with Tarrant County Homeless Coalition and it’s short term rental assistance for anyone who meets the Category 1 homeless, which means you’re sleeping somewhere that you’re not meant to be sleeping. Then we have Hearts Full of Love Temporary Housing and we have a couple of RVs that we will put folks in that just need a few months to get back on track and can start paying rent within a few weeks. We usually do a six-month lease and then try to move them on to an apartment.”
Froid and Miller said the Weatherford Panera Bread has been instrumental in the food that is provided for Front Porch Friends.
“We had just started doing Front Porch Friends about the same time that Panera was opening up, so we’re getting like two to four boxes of awesome donations every Friday night that we hand out Saturday morning,” Froid said. “It’s the pastries, loaves of bread, any of the stuff that won’t go bad, so [Miller] picks that up every Friday night and it’s just a ton and a really great product. Whatever we have leftover, the ladies at the church will wrap it up and send it home with folks, so they leave with a full belly and lots of extra goodies to take with them.”
“When you think about the extra food restaurants have leftover that’s perfectly good food, but they don’t use it the next day, it’s amazing,” Miller said. “Nobody needs to go hungry in the United States I don’t think.”
According to the Panera Bread website, organizations can apply for programs, including the Day-End Dough-Nation program.
“At Panera Bread, we believe we’re more than a restaurant; we’re a member of each and every community we serve,” according to the website. “As a member of your community, it’s important to us that we do what we can to support [organizations].”
A representative of Panera Bread could not be reached for comment.
Froid said unfortunately, there are homeless people in Parker County.
“I love Weatherford, I love Parker County, but we’ve never made an effort to reach these folks. We don’t try to embrace the homeless community, we want to kind of pretend it’s not there, and it is there,” Froid said. “This is going to be low numbers, but on a weekly basis we serve anywhere from 65 to 75 of the same people that are living in a camp, in a car or that are living in between a car and a motel, which means they’re working but they’re stuck in a cycle of paying for the motel and when the motel money runs out, they have to stay in their car. It’s just a vicious cycle. We’ve only been serving in town for a little over a year, so I’m pretty sure those numbers are really low.”
As for the organization’s long term vision, Froid said their goal is to create a small community where they can provide some kind of home to people while helping them get back on their feet.
“We don’t see a shelter as being an answer to what we see in Parker County — not that we’re experts or anything, we just don’t think that would be a good fit for our homeless. We’re thinking a community, like a small community on a couple of acres with some tiny homes, trailers and some RVs for emergency housing,” Froid said. “This little community would be short-term assistance for the most part. We would bring people in and give them six to 18 months to get themselves back on track. We would put them into some different services to get them training, further their education or if they want to get their high school diploma.”
Froid said for the elderly or veterans that are homeless, they would like to provide long-term housing.
“We have some around town that are elderly and have other issues, and they just simply can’t take care of themselves, so we would have a few spots for them and charge very low rent, $50 to $100 a month, and they would have a community to call their own,” Froid said. “We would have about five tiny homes for veterans. We’re serving four veterans right now that are living in camps in Weatherford and so we would have these tiny homes for veterans and they could stay as long as they want. We feel that veterans have paid their dues and they shouldn’t be living in a camp unless they want to. So this would be called Hope Community, and that’s our long term vision.”