This Is Why: Heart for Winter Haven

Seeking City Welfare

A city thrives when its citizens, businesses, churches, and nonprofits work together to promote the welfare of the city. In this issue of “This Is Why” we interviewed Brad Beatty, director of Heart for Winter Haven, to see how people are coming together to make a difference beyond their own brand.

Heart for Winter Haven’s mission is to help people experience spiritual, social, and economic flourishing through the demonstration of Christ's heart for the city. Jeremiah 29:7 is a foundational verse for this ministry, which says, “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” Every citizen has been given the duty by God to seek the welfare of their city. We are most effective in caring for our city when all of our efforts are unified and sustainable changes are collectively made.

United, Not Divided

Brad started his work with Heart for Winter Haven in 2014 by listening, learning, and having conversations with all the sectors in Winter Haven (individuals, businesses, churches, and nonprofits). “I believe there is power in human connection. Material resources can make things efficient, but nothing can replace relationships and community.” said Brad. “We want to build relationships, build trust, and create shared experiences between all four sectors (individuals, businesses, churches, and nonprofits) to promote a healthy integrated community.” When all of these sectors are united to promote the welfare of our city, it makes a lasting impact that no divided effort ever could make on its own.

Jobs for Life

One of the shared experiences H4WH created is Jobs for Life. Jobs for Life started as an experiment to see if those four sectors could be brought together under one agenda: provide holistic change for the underemployed and unemployed people in our city. Jobs for Life is founded on the principle that we can’t just feed and clothe people and expect them to succeed. We need to create relationships with our underemployed and unemployed population and properly train them for success in the workplace because holistic change begins with work. “Work enables people to have a sense of dignity and purpose as they provide for themselves and others. When you employ one bread winner, you are often times affecting an entire family and eventually a community.”

Businesses, nonprofits, and churches are coming together to provide the necessary volunteers, resources, training, and space needed to put on this 8 week training. All these sectors are laying their own brand and personal agenda aside to work alongside each other to help break the cycle of poverty. Brad tells each student that “this is free to you because of the generosity of people who care about you and want you to succeed.”

Winter Haven Housing Report

Another movement for holistic change is Heart for Winter Haven’s Housing Report. The City of Winter Haven unanimously appointed H4WH to conduct a report on homeless families who have children in public schools. “We have a school bus stop at the Winter Haven Inn. That’s a bus stop. It shouldn’t be that way,” said Brad. H4WH has made it their goal to find a solution for 150 of these families at the conclusion of their study. Brad believes a a key component to fighting homelessness in Winter Haven is to gather those four sectors to come up with a solution together. “We need to get the information out so we can establish a common agenda. That’s what this report will do.” The report will answer several questions like “How did these families end up in these circumstances?” and “What are some of the root causes?” The homeless themselves will help identify the problem and come up with solutions to the root problems, and not just put a bandaid on the issue. The report will be done in just a few months and will be made available to the public.

How Do We Make People Feel Loved?

In every project and collaborative effort, Brad says the goal is for everyone to grow. Transforming and impacting our city is a collective initiative, where everyone has to buy in. If our businesses, churches, and nonprofits don’t buy in, it doesn’t happen. We have to resolve to make a difference in our community together. So, the question we must all ask ourselves is, “How can we care and love on our city in a way that people feel it and want to be a part of it?” The solution begins with having these kinds of conversations, unifying under a common agenda, and giving our talents, energy, and resources to the collective effort of promoting the welfare of our city.

Brandspark partners with organizations like Heart for Winter Haven to promote local organizations who have a purpose beyond profit. If you’d like to learn more about Heart for Winter Haven and their incredible projects, visit www.heart4wh.org.