Episode 46

Solving Homelessness One Heart at a Time with Hearts of Gold Founder, Deborah Koenigsberger

Deborah Koenigsberger is the founder of the nonprofit organization Hearts of Gold. For over 27 years, Hearts of Gold has sought to end homelessness for women and children in New York City through a combination of need-based programs and shelters which now house and assist over 35,000 mothers and children. Today, I’m sitting down with Deborah to learn more about how she was inspired to start the program, how she stays motivated and positive, and what it takes to effect true change within your sphere. 

As Deborah got involved, she started to take ownership of attendant programs that could assist in raising women and children out of homelessness

Decades ago, as Deborah walked from home to work, she would pass through a run-down park populated with homeless families and individuals. A young mother herself, she couldn’t stop wondering about the mothers living there. As she got to know one woman in particular, she learned that the mother had been molested in one of the shelters, and therefore felt more safe on the streets. A lifelong fan of Stevie Wonder, Deborah took his song “Take the Time Out” to heart. She was inspired to take a step and work to make a change. As Deborah got involved, she started to take ownership of not only shelters, but also attendant programs that could assist in raising women and children out of homelessness. 

Deborah shares how community service was really built into her DNA growing up

The problem of homelessness is overwhelming to think about. We took time to discuss with Deborah how she manages to stay motivated and positive in the face of such staggering need. Deborah shares how community service was really built into her DNA growing up and how her faith sustains her when she would otherwise sink. Furthermore, she’s a highly results-oriented person. By breaking the problem down into achievable goals and remembering the impact on individuals she’s met, she’s able to press forward with her whole heart and her whole effort. 

Hearts of Gold’s programs open up access and opportunities for individuals

Hearts of Gold is not just about satisfying the immediate needs of women and children under its protection. It seeks to break the cycle of poverty and lift individuals out of homelessness. To Deborah, this comes down to investing in individuals, expanding their world view, prioritizing education, and letting them always know that someone is cheering for them. Hearts of Gold’s programs, from the learn to earn work experience program at Deborah’s own thrift store boutique to summer teen enrichment programs, open up access and opportunities for individuals. Like many charitable programs during the COVID-19 pandemic, Hearts of Gold had to cancel fundraisers even in the face of ever-increasing needs, and is therefore working with a restricted budget this year. Deborah shares ways you can get involved in this work, and the current and future initiatives that Hearts of Gold has planned to meet the evolving needs of the community. 

“When you uncover a passion…the passion then rules you. It takes you over. You don’t really get to choose anymore. It moves you in places and ways that you wouldn’t have gone otherwise.” – Deborah Koenigsberger

What You Will Learn

  1. The power of just one person to effect real change in her community and world. 
  2. How to stay positive and motivated in the face of overwhelming odds. 
  3. What factors make the real difference for children and mothers living in poverty. 
  4. How to join in the work of Hearts of Gold, or find a passion for another worthy project that needs your efforts. 

Learn more about Hearts of Gold and follow Deborah on Social Media:

https://www.heartsofgold.org/

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