After first hearing about Caring Hearts Ministry through Stateside Coordinator Natalie Hennessey in 2017, she wanted to do more. She was looking for an organization to present at the Grand Opening of NoBaked and has been donating and visiting San Luis ever since!
The first time I heard about Caring Hearts was from Natalie Hennessy. At the time, Natalie was an acquaintance of mine that I didn't know much about, except for the fact that she went to the same college as me and now worked for a non-profit. Natalie texted me one day in the summer of 2017 and asked if I would grab coffee with her to chat about event planning. At this point, I was just getting started with my own business, NoBaked Cookie Dough. I had started selling edible cookie dough at various events and at pop-up shops around Nashville. When I met up with Natalie, she told me that she thought she could do the same thing with Caring Hearts. I told her everything I knew about events and pop-ups and then we went our separate ways.
A couple of months later, NoBaked had gotten to the point of opening up our very first brick and mortar shop. I wanted to have some kind of charity present at the Grand Opening event and Caring Hearts was the first thing that came to mind. On the day of the grand opening, Natalie brought her Caring Hearts pop-up tent and some material about all the programs that the non-profit could help. That was the first time that I actually learned about what Caring Hearts does. I was immediately intrigued by the cause and amazed at how passionate Natalie and her team of volunteers and interns were about it. It was hard to ignore it when so many people cared so much about it.
For the next year and a half, we've teamed up with Caring Hearts for numerous events, including their Music City Masquerade. I've always felt like NoBaked could be part of things bigger than itself, and Caring Hearts has been the perfect cause for us to really make a difference. Once Natalie and I became better friends, she would basically ask me every couple of weeks, "So when are you and Jimmy going to come on a trip to Mexico with us?" After consistently saying no because of not being able to leave work for a full 7 days, Natalie approached us with a 4-day trip that was impossible to say no to. In July of this year, we made the trip down to San Luis for the first time.
The trip itself was eye-opening, to say the least. While in San Luis, we went to the Oasis Boys Home, the garbage dump, the city orphanage, the immigrant shelter, the soup kitchen, the life center and to visit a couple of shut-in families. Along the way, Natalie would tell us how much money it took to run each program or to feed each child, or to build a house for a homeless family. That's the point where I realized that all of the work that's done here in Nashville and all of the money that's raised at the events that we have has a tremendous impact on the lives of people in this community. The money goes so far and the amount of people helping to make San Luis a better place is astonishing. Some parts of the trip were tough. The garbage dump is shocking to see because even the poorest people in the United States don't live the way these people do. The orphanage had babies that had just been born and seemed like they'd be impossible to give up.
Through all of the bad and the tough things to witness, though, the trip was one of the most fun times of my life. The simple act of playing soccer with the Oasis boys brought them a joy that I just don't see anyone have here in the U.S., even though we have so much. The men at the life center have devoted their lives to sobriety and are so thankful to have a simple building to live in, just because they aren't stuck on the streets anymore. The kids at the soup kitchen have so much fun playing with water balloons and being fed the only meal that they'll get that day. Those were sights that made the whole entire thing worth it.
The amount of good that can be done from afar is still insane to me. It doesn't take much time or money to improve the lives of so many people in San Luis. I'm so excited to be able to play a small role in helping them. I know that I'll be a supporter for life and I hope that many other people will have the same experience with Caring Hearts that I have!