March 2, 2016


Today’s blog is about another amazing employee at HAND. Her name is Tracy Heaton. She is HAND’s community outreach coordinator as well as the mother of two teenage boys. Heaton’s favorite colors are green and blue, she loves to read, travel and “yell at my kids.” She’s got a fabulous sense of humor, and a supposedly terrible dog named Bella.

Heaton has worked in nonprofits for most of her career. She explained that she loves her work and finds it very fulfilling as well as very fun. When I asked what she really loved about a nonprofit she said, “You know when you work late or you have to get up for an early morning meeting and you’re tired and you need that motivation? Knowing that what you do gives back to the community and raises up the community makes that all a lot easier.” Heaton feels very inspired and driven to do more and more by her work here. She loves helping others and believes that it’s important and necessary to aid others through her work. I also asked Heaton why her job is important to her, she replied, “I believe in it. I believe in the people I work with. I’m enriched and blessed by meeting neighbors and learning about what’s valuable to them and what’s important and how HAND can contribute, and it’s just plain fun.”

Working with the surrounding community and neighbors is a major part of Heaton’s job. She works alongside residents to get projects done, listen to their wants and needs, and so much more. While asking what she loves about her job, Heaton expressed, “I really love the opportunity to work alongside neighbors on a project: a clean-up, a day in the park, a celebration, a pot luck, those kinds of things are so fun in the neighborhood. Also, really seemingly boring things like our staff meetings are always interesting and I always learn something new.” Heaton is proud of the community she and HAND are helping to build stronger every day. She understands the importance of communication between organizations and residents of Hamilton County; therefore, she works hard to better that communication. I also got the chance to ask Heaton why HAND is important. She explained, “I think (HAND) is particularly important in Hamilton County. Affordable housing is an issue across that state, but in a community where housing is so high-end and so expensive, it’s nearly unattainable if you hit a rough patch financially. If you’re facing a divorce, if you have health issues, if you’re elderly and on restricted income, it starts to become a crisis. I think the neighbors I’ve met in Hamilton County are very passionate and want to care about their neighbors, but don’t know the situation exists. So once they learn about it, they’re usually convinced to be on our side.”

Lastly, Heaton talked to me about how it’s important for other people to understand what HAND does. She says that Hamilton County resident’s involvement is crucial to HAND’s process. Heaton explains, “I think most importantly, if a resident in Hamilton County wants an organization like HAND to thrive, they need to give that message to their elected officials, from their local, all the way to the state, that HAND is important, our work is needed, and it needs to get support from local government.” With the help of citizens, HAND’s part in the community can grow and with the growth is their opportunity to help even more residents. If neighbors can work together, HAND can help resident concerns and suggestions be heard, as a strong, united voice.