Mitzvot from the heart: Daniel Hearst

Daniel Hearst

Daniel Hearst

Congregation B’nai Amoona

Daniel didn’t know what a life changing experience he would have when he started volunteering at Gateway 180 – Homelessness Reversed (previously known at Gateway Homeless Services). That is until he met a young boy named Robert.

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“He was 10 or 11 at the time. He kept beating everyone in our group and even some of the teachers at the game Connect 4,” said Daniel. “He was very smart and was there every time we went because he really liked to be there when we were there. I think he is going to grow up to be something good,” Daniel continued.

Through the Ladue Middle School Kids Connection Program, Daniel worked with the children at Gateway 180 twice a month, two to three hours each time. He helped them with their homework, played games and just spent time with them.

Son of Claudia and Jonathan Hearst of Olivette, Daniel believed that the kids were lonely. Being at a homeless shelter can be very hard for them. “The kids were there while their parents were out with their struggle to try to make a living.” Daniel felt that being with them during that time could make a difference.

Daniel’s mother summed up his experience. “He thoroughly enjoyed the time he spent there. It also helped him to see things from other people’s point of view. The kids there did not talk much, but they made clear their perspective. Daniel said to me, “I learned how they could be really good at whatever they want to be and end up at a really good school or college, but they don’t have the chance, because they don’t have the money to go. Not fair.””

Robert made a strong impression on Daniel. He was inspired to do better. He learned that if people under the most difficult circumstances can make something of themselves, then those who have better opportunities should really take advantage of them.

This was a great mitzvah project for Daniel to have while he was preparing for his Bar Mitzvah and learning from the Torah. It moved Daniel to write his Bar Mitzvah speech about justice and how we should all start a justice chain that begins with us and ends with a just society.

Gateway180 is a valuable resource for women and children experiencing the unimaginable burden of homelessness. They provide safe, nurturing emergency shelter services designed to get families into transitional or permanent homes in under 30 days.

For more information, go to www.gateway180.org. Contact information is: Gateway 180 – Homelessness Reversed, 
1000 N. 19th Street,
St. Louis, Mo. 63106 or call 314 231-1515.