St. John Baptist Church hosts Joshuas Heart Foundation food distribution
Recipients waiting to be fed.
Second left, Claudia McLean and Joshua Williams (c) and others prepare food to fee
By Derek Joy
The story has a heartfelt beginning.
Joshua Williams, 12, had a life changing experience at the tender age of four-and-a-half years old.
That’s when he conceived the idea that has mushroomed into Joshuas Heart Foundation. That idea was a welcome reality at St. John Baptist Church in Overtown.
Some 50 people were recipients of a free meal and a bag of groceries to take home and prepare.
Last Saturday’s food distribution was ably assisted by volunteers and the Whole Foods Market of South Beach, whose chefs, Jordan Francini and Leandro Seoane, prepared the meal while giving instructions on preparing other dishes.
“He (Joshua) started this when he was four-and-a-half-years old,” said Joshua’s mother, Claudia McLean. “It’s his idea.”
Joshua, who just completed seventh grade at Ransom Everglades Academy, came upon a homeless and hungry man back then. The experience moved him to give the man the $20-his grandmother Peggy McLean had given him earlier that day.
“I wanted to do something about that. About two weeks later I saw a commercial about Feed the Hungry,” said Williams. “It showed me how to do what I wanted to do. It inspired me.”
“I talked to two of my aunts. They wouldn’t help me. So I talked to my mother about what I wanted to do. We started working on it, helping feed people with our own money.”
Joshua and his mother were cooking every Saturday in various locations beneath I-95 in Overtown. The effort was ended when city of Miami officials told them they needed a license.
So, with the help of his mother, Joshua founded Joshuas Heart Foundation, began soliciting donations and food contributions.
They began with a feed the hungry event at North Miami Church of God and branched out.
“We were here at St. John’s in 2010. They’d asked us to come back. That’s why we’re here today,” said McLean, a home healthcare professional, who is a member of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale.
With the sky high unemployment rate and growing population of senior citizens and disabled residents, Overtown proved to be ideal for Joshuas Heart Foundation’s charity.
According McLean, Joshua Heart Foundation has collaborated with Camillus House in feeding the hungry. She said the relationship is growing.
It has been efforts like this over the past eight years that have generated growing support and received local, state and national recognition. The mission and continuing efforts of this organization are documented on FACEBOOK and its website – JOSHUASHEARTFOUNDATION.ORG.
“We’ve given out 500,000 pounds of food and raised $300,000 while creating and expanding food distributions through donations,” said Williams, who has received the Prudential “Spirit of Community Award and praise from President Barack Obama.
“There were 28,000 applicants. Ten national award winners were chosen from among two finalists from each state. I was one of the winners,” added Williams.
According to St. John Deaconess Edwina Royster-Pace, the Joshua Heart Foundation effort was needed, welcomed and will return for a Thanksgiving Day feed the hungry effort.