Helping the less fortunate with open arms
L. Shonny DeBouse-Young is getting out there and doing great things to improve the lives of others around her. Following the passing of her aunt, Minister LaMona J. Wills, she and LaMona’s sister Angela Pitcher co-founded Mona’s Heart Outreach, a 501c3 organization that aims to help those who are in need of assistance – the homeless, those fleeing domestic violence, and those with health conditions that have lead to poverty. I recently was able to send L. Shonny DeBouse-Young some questions, and here’s how she responded.
Ronda Bowen (RB): Can you speak about Minister LaMona J. Wills and what it was that prompted you to start Mona’s Heart Outreach?
L. Shonny DeBouse-Young (SD): Mona’s Heart Outreach, Inc. started serving Tarrant and Dallas County residents October 1, 2010 in loving memory of Minister LaMona J. Wills. Her heart was as big as Texas and she made it her mission to help anyone that she could. LaMona would take people down on their luck and help them find employment and resources to thrive. She never met a stranger. Her smile was contagious, and she gave hugs that would let you know it would be okay. In August of 2010, she passed away suddenly from a pulmonary embolism. We vowed to continue the good deeds that she believed in. Today her legacy, love, and service continues through Mona’s Heart Outreach, Inc. an IRS-recognized 501c3 that was co-founded by her only sister, Angela Pitcher, and niece, L. Shonny DeBouse-Young. She was a firm believer in helping the less fortunate.
RB: Can you tell our audience a bit about your charity and the individuals that it serves?
SD: Mona’s Heart Outreach provides assistance, resources, and relief to those who are affected by homelessness, domestic violence, and medical illness in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. We also offer support services and resources to veterans, senior citizens, and those who have experienced displacement through financial hardships. If we can’t accommodate the need, it is our goal to help locate resources. Throughout the year, we give individuals “blessing bags;” these bags are filled with toiletries, snacks, socks, quarters to wash clothes, and words of encouragement. We also host an annual coat and toiletry drive every December. During this drive, we collect coats, hats, gloves, toiletries, hand warmers, and hot chocolate. We call it the “Cup of Hope”. With each cup of hot chocolate, it’s a sweet reminder that someone cares and warms them. Mona’s Heart and our team of volunteers then go out on Christmas Eve to the serve the homeless with the coats and supplies.
RB: What are the most important things that people should know about those affected by homelessness?
SD: Homelessness does not have a gender, race, or creed. The homeless are people just like you and I. There are situations in life where there are no other options and people become homeless. Many people lose their jobs, have health crises, or mental health issues.
RB: What are the most important things people should know about domestic violence?
SD: Domestic violence affects people from every background imaginable and it causes displacement and homelessness. Many flee from their abusers with nothing but the clothes on their backs–often times with children–and unfortunately, there is not always a safe place to go. The local shelters are filled to capacity more often than not. The victims are left alone and afraid. Many sleep in vehicles or get hotel rooms if they have resources. The sad part is that many don’t have any money when they leave their abusers.
RB: What are the most important things our readers should know about how medical illnesses can create financial hardships for people?
SD: When you or a loved is diagnosed with a debilitating illness, it can rock the very core of your being. It can affect income and the ability of the caretaker to sustain employment. Between doctors visits and care, it can become a daunting task both physically and mentally. Then, you add medical bills and financial hardship to the equation and it can be unbearable. A little support goes a long way. A movie night for the children of a sick parent. A caregiver getting pampered. A hotel stay, gas voucher, and meals help out tremendously. Just knowing that someone cares is priceless.
RB: How can readers get involved with your charity?
SD: They can sign up to become volunteers, participate in our coat drive, or make monetary donations to Mona’s Heart Outreach through our website.
At Mona’s Heart Outreach, everything we do is done from a sincere place of compassion and love and with the intention of helping others to improve their quality of life. We also ask our friends and volunteers to create “blessing bags” and keep them in your car to give away to someone in need. Maybe at a stoplight or anywhere.
RB: What advice do you have for our readers?
SD: To make a heart-filled effort to help others in any capacity that you can. You never know when life could throw you or someone you know an unexpected hardship. My advice is to reach out if you need help and for people to check on one another. If you suspect a friend, family member, co-worker is being abused, having health issues, or experiencing hardship offer assistance, give gift cards, listen to them, and reach out for professional resources.
RB: How do you embrace balance in your own life?
SD: I embrace balance in my own life by praying, meditating, serving others, & enjoying my family. I operate on a blocked schedule, but I make room for adjustments. This keeps me balanced if something unexpected comes up. Balance is so necessary in today’s climate because without it, you can become lost in being busy. My family keeps me centered more than anything.
Get involved with Mona’s Heart Outreach
Mona’s Heart Outreach is getting ready to do their annual coat drive. They will begin taking donations in October. To volunteer, learn what in-kind donations they could use, or donate, you can do so through their website, here. Be sure to also follow Mona’s Heart Outreach on Facebook to keep up with the wonderful work they are doing to improve the lives of those in the DFW area.