Fran Heitzman: Putting Love into Action

03/06/2019 by Mark Wilkening

It’s a little after 10:00 a.m. at Bridging and my office mate enters through the doorway…

“Good morning. How are you, today?” I ask. “Well, I’m HERE,” he proudly proclaims, celebrating the dawn of a new day, an opportunity to put love into action and FURNISH HOMES WITH HOPE. And so it begins, another day of selfless service for a remarkable man.

My office mate happens to be Bridging Founder Fran Heitzman: A man now 94 years young, who is more full of life than anyone I know. About a year ago when the opportunity arose, I moved my office into his to “sit at his feet” so I could listen, learn and observe an unbridled example of passion, wisdom, service and love.

Next he shares with me the thought of the day from an inspirational calendar he keeps on his counter at home. He memorizes it, and shares it word for word. We then pause to reflect on the words. The irony is I don’t ponder the quote for long. For me, those words are not the inspiration, it’s the man who’s sharing it.

HE is the inspiration.

Just like he has for six days each week since Bridging launched its important work in the community in 1987, Fran puts his passion into action as he seeks to furnish homes with hope and ensure that no one in our community lives in an unfurnished home. His father always told him to get out of bed and do something. Well, he HAS done something, quite a bit in fact.

Bridging has furnished more than 90,000 homes in our twin cities community. That’s more than a quarter million people who have been impacted by Fran’s dream. But it’s not about the numbers to this pioneer of service. It’s about the people. The many, many people who come together to help Fran live out his dream.

Daily, Fran can be found:

  • Going office-to-office and greeting every staff member by name.
  • Thanking the countless volunteers and donors for their time and generosity.
  • Welcoming the clients when they arrive to select their items or take home their items.
  • Speaking to volunteers groups, sharing his dream and its impact.
  • Signing each and every donor thank you letter by hand.
  • Distributing stuffed animals with a smile to the grateful children in the lobby as they wait for their mothers or fathers to select the items that will soon furnish their homes.

After a very full day, Fran bids farewell to the Bridging team and heads home to catch a quick nap before his nightly card game with his family members. As he departs, we are reminded of his mantra:

“When, good people get together to do good things, then good things happen. And good things happen every day at Bridging.”

Today, March 6, is a very special day at Bridging. It is the 94th anniversary of the birth of our founder who has helped wonderfully transform not only my life, but literally thousands of lives in our twin cities community – one life at a time.

Happy Birthday to our dear friend, Founder Fran! Thank you for giving us the opportunity to support you and serve with you as your dream is fulfilled daily. We love you!!

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