Heart Ministry Center expanding services to help more people

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- Heart Ministry Center, an organization located in North Omaha, has been around for almost 40 years, and now, it’s expanding. It’s doing more than help people in the community -- it’s changing lives.

Heart Ministry Center, an organization located in North Omaha, has been around for almost 40 years, and now, it’s expanding. It’s doing more than help people in the community – it’s changing lives.

Paul Weishapl, a member of the Fresh Start job placement program at Heart Ministry Center, is trying to turn his life around.

He’s a recovering addict who’s been in and out of jail. However, he’s now nine months sober and working towards living a sober life.

As a part of the Fresh Start team, he stocks food for the pantry, which helps to feed more than 600 people a week. He said, "that's why they call it the 'fresh start team' probably because it really does feel like you're a part of achieving something every day.”

But getting to this point hasn't been easy for Weishapl.

"Everything I've ever done before trying to get back on my feet,” he said. “This program kind of has a more holistic intentional purpose behind it, which is to financially set you up, physically set you up."

The goal is to help people move towards self-sufficiency and empower them to move forward, said Eric Crawford, the CEO of Heart Ministry Center.

Along with the pantry, the center offers the Fresh Start job placement program, medical and dental clinics, and even social workers to help families with finances and housing.

"There's pockets of poverty all over the Omaha area,” said Crawford. “And so, we have clients that come, you know, from far west as the Valley area, people that come from Western Iowa, Plattsmouth, Nebraska City."

In order to serve so many people, the center is renovating its old building.

"When we expand our facilities, we'll expand our medical clinic to go from three exam rooms to four, and our dental clinic to go from two dental chairs to four dental chairs,” said Crawford. “So, we'll be able to serve a larger population or more clients as they come."

They're designing a brand new laundromat -- which will create three and a half new jobs. "Once they graduate from the fresh start program,” said Crawford. “We'll transition them to that laundromat for employment."

More jobs mean more opportunities for people like Paul Weishapl.

“Which filling people's carts full of food, you feel like you go home pretty rewarded every day,” said Weishapl. “You don't really feel like you didn't do something right that day, you know?"

The medical clinic is still open during construction -- on Mondays and Fridays. The dental clinic is currently closed but will re-open when construction wraps in August.