As our parish focuses on the Corporal Work of Mercy “clothe the naked” this month…we are honoring Jack for his years of volunteer service at Mary Magdalen House in Over the Rhine. Located at 1223 Main Street, this non-profit agency describes itself as “an oasis of hospitality providing a safe and pleasant place for persons in need, to shower, shave, brush their teeth, use a toilet, and have clothes laundered.” Their website states: “We believe that dignity is the beginning of hope.”
One man taking part in that mission of hope is Visi parishioner Jack Hekler. He says he was about to retire in 2006 and was hoping to do some volunteering…when “the Spirit called me through the radio!” He says his wife Barbara was listening to Jim Scott on WLW talking about how Mary Magdalen House needed clothing and other supplies. So on her suggestion, he went down to the facility on a Saturday morning and was given a tour by Marianist Brother Juan Carlos…known there as Brother John. That’s when he felt the gentle tug on his heart.
Jack says he always loved St. Francis and “when I saw the need and how many homeless there are on our streets…I felt called.” The clincher, he says, was when when his wife pointed out his mother’s name: Mary Magdalene Hekler. Jack says it was like his mom’s way of telling him, “Go for it!”
He did…and has been volunteering every Wednesday afternoon since. Jack assists in sorting the clothing of the homeless men and women who come in, washing and drying them, and then returning the clothing to bags with their clients’ names on them. He says Mary Magdalen House serves 100 to 125 people a day…who are provided showers and then clean clothing.
Jack and his wife Barbara have three daughters and one son who all graduated from Our Lady of the Visitation School. A member of the parish since 1978, he’s grateful to have found a new calling in his retirement years. Jack says sometimes he’ll find a box of clothing, shampoo, soap, toothpaste, etc. on his porch. Seems news of his calling to “clothe the naked” has spread to neighbors and strangers alike who often drop off donations.
Kudos Corner salutes Jack Hekler…and thanks him for answering the call!