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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Humble Hearts provides limitless charity to Chicago
by Melissa Wasserman
2014-06-25

This article shared 8190 times since Wed Jun 25, 2014
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Walking down into Carol Boyd Yee's basement on Chicago's West Side, one will find a wide assortment of things from fashion, to home furnishings, to medical accessories and more. However, it's not a case of hoarding for her and her family: Her basement is the where she and her wife, Mae, run the non-profit organization Humble Hearts.

"We're not a religious foundation, we're just a humanitarian foundation," said Yee. "We want to take care of our community, and our community needs it a lot. Humble Hearts wants to be recognized not just somebody out there feeding the homeless, or clothing the homeless, or working with LGBT kids. They want to leave an impression like, 'Wow! You really do care about us.'"

Collecting everything limitlessly, Humble Hearts doesn't say "no" to anything as it sets out to redistribute items to anyone less fortunate in Chicago and operates with the mission statement: "to help one person at a time so that each individual gets the respect, attention, & focus they need to walk away with love, and dignity!" Although recycling items to those in need has been a passion of hers for over 15 years, Yee founded the non-profit organization Humble Hearts in June 2013.

"A lot of people we work with don't have the resources that we do," said Yee. "So, we do all the legwork and furnish homes. We give beds and clothing [and] gather up boxes of food; we work with a lot of homeless teenagers who run away from home. We don't ask questions. Our only concern is they remain safe and clothe them while they're out, so they don't freeze and starve to death."

Yee was homeless by choice at 16, running away from home to escape an abusive mother and alcoholic father. For two and a half years she stayed out—until she got pregnant and she returned home. Going to school and graduating at the age of 20 and getting a job, she was soon able to buy her own home on the West Side, which is the current home she has resided in for the past 15 years with her wife and daughter. Her wife, too, Yee shared, was also homeless living in a car 25 years ago.

"I truly believe God sent me my child to give me that second chance to turn my life around," said Yee. "It was an epiphany in my life I didn't want to be a statistic. I grew up in the hood. I grew up poor. I'm blessed. I'm alive and not hooked on drugs. I'm 20 years clean. I'm helping drug addicts and clothing them and feeding them because even though they're out doing what they're doing, they still need some kind of love. Society judges and they don't want to help. Humble hearts isn't going to judge you. We're going to help you because we've been there."

Upon moving into her neighborhood, she put up a swing-set for her child to play safely. People, she explained, were knocking on her door asking if it was a daycare center and were asking why she had a swing-set in her yard.

"I just saw these kids and I thought of helping these kids and I started taking from my own children, passing down their things, toys and clothes to the neighborhood and the neighborhood started telling people about me and then people started telling people about me and then I started asking my friends, 'Save your items for me,'" said Yee of Humble Hearts' beginning. "The cops came to my house because they thought we were selling drugs, but we weren't selling drugs. People were dropping off loads of clothes."

Her drive to help the community, she described, comes from the constant need out there and the gratification she gets at the end of the day. Yee does have a screening process where she conducts home walk-through and evaluations to verify if people do in fact need the help.

"We're not a religious foundation; we're just a humanitarian foundation," said Yee. "We do not give junk; we give nice things. We sort by size, we sort by female or male, we sort by children, we have toys, when it's somebody's birthday we'll give them a birthday present. That's why I'm doing something every single day or helping somebody because donations come in every single day and just as much as they come in, they go out."

A recent Humble Hearts project was a dress giveaway event held at Morton Career Academy May 3. The event set out to give away free dresses to the first 100 eighth-grade or high-school girls in need of a dress for prom, graduation or any other special event. A raffle with prizes of a $200 gift to a high school senior and a $100 gift certificate for an eighth-grade student to go out and buy their own dresses was also held. Professional makeup artists donated their time to hand out beauty tips for the big celebrations.

"It broke my heart to hear someone's not going to go to their high-school prom, no one's got anything nice to graduate—we're girls," said Yee. "We all want to feel beautiful. We all want to feel pretty. My mind goes 200mph and I could not stop thinking about it. From that day, dresses started coming into my house. I went from having one dress to having over 517."

Yee even put in the prom dress she bought for last year's gay prom, which she and her wife won, saying she is excited to see the girl who picks her dress.

On a regular basis, Humble Hearts volunteers load up the car with home-cooked and donated food, hygiene products and clothes and drives along a planned route to feed whoever they come across living under viaducts.

"Some homeless we've dealt with, they get fed, they're turning their food to pass onto other homeless people," said Yee. "What they need is toilet paper and Humble Hearts passes out toilet paper; shavers, we buy a package of shavers at the dollar store. They're homeless but they still want to freshen up and clean themselves."

Working with various organizations such as Center on Halsted and Jesus Closet, donations from companies such as The Dump, Walgreen's and The Great American Bagel, and individuals, Humble Hearts operates mainly on social media and by word of mouth. To date, the organization has helped over 100 people, according to Yee. She describes the Humble Hearts as spontaneous in what they do in terms of collecting.

To learn more about Humble Hearts, to get involved, or donate, visit: www.humbleheartsfoundation.org/home.html and www.facebook.com/pages/Humble-Hearts-Organization/477172595731068 .


This article shared 8190 times since Wed Jun 25, 2014
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