Lending a hand

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How Tim Hahn helped save a life and lend a hand to those in need

As the sun rises on Saturdays, the hearts of giving wake up to a cause bigger than themselves, as the sounds of gratitude echo through the smells of hot dogs simmering on a grill.

It’s the picture of Helping Hand, a 4-year-old organization that not only brings food to the hungry, but also puts comfort back into lives that have been through incredibly challenging times.

Founder Tim Hahn said the group started with only one volunteer, providing as much food as possible. However, during the organization’s four years, it has literally been breathing life back into families in need.

“A woman came up to me with one of the translators trying her best to explain the dire condition of her son, who lived 2,000 miles away,” Hahn said. “He had kidney problems and needed a transplant. Here I am handing out bread – what do I know? But she had no one to tell, she didn’t know what to do.”

Hahn said through networking the group was able to find a doctor they knew, who lived two blocks away from the woman’s son.

“She came up to me weeks later and said her son received the transplant and he was doing fine. It’s amazing what people can do even thousands of miles away from each other.”

That person’s life was saved through a crucially needed surgery, but the organization has saved lives in different ways, too.

“There was a freshman in high school I noticed one morning. He had glasses and they were duct taped on the sides and even then barely staying together. I see that and think how must he feel at school? Then we found a local ophthalmologist who gave him glasses and lenses.”

Hahn said the untraditional donations are what make his organization unique.

“The people in need are like abused puppies, scared to come out into the world, scared of what they may find or how they will be looked at. It really puts a face on poverty,” Hahn said.

Helping Hand was founded in 2008:

Started with one volunteer, Hahn’s wife, Linda

2010- Six volunteers

2012- 50 regular volunteers

Families helped:

Helping Hand serves food to 50 families each week

More than a food pantry:

Donations from Helping Hand include a car, house work and mechanical work on cars for people in need, glasses with lenses, clothes and items such as diapers and other childcare items.

Hahn said remembering his roots is a substantial part of his giving heart.

“I lived in the inner city, on the east side of Indianapolis, and we faced challenging times. I understand what the families feel, but if you don’t lose track of who you are and remember where you come from, you see such different perspectives – the kind of perspectives that open your eyes to helping people in unique ways.”

Keeping a strong connection with his roots helped Hahn plant and grow his own organization. He first started by helping a man named Lucius Newson nearly 30 years ago, who inspired him to continue Newson’s legacy on a different note.

“I play in a (Jimmy) Buffett cover band, Ten, and we made a CD in 2000 and donated the $2,000 we made to Lucius and his missions to help others,” Hahn said.

Today, Newson is the voice guiding Hahn with every moment he hands out food, helps fix a home or saves a child from kidney failure.

“He’s around, he whispers a lot when I’m doing right. I know he’s nodding his head and smiling, saying, ‘carry on.’”

For more information about how you can get involved in Helping Hand or make your own contribution contact Tim Hahn at timandlinda1962@comcast.com or 317-714-5582. Helping Hand meets Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to noon at Westfield Playhouse.

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