Saturday, March 23, 2002

Woman helps raise hopes

Shelter benefits from her dedication

By Janet C. Wetzel
Enquirer Contributor

        MIDDLETOWN — Lee Hartman's first visit to the Hope House shelter nearly broke her heart.

[photo] Lee Hartman, right, talks with a social worker at Hope House in Middletown.
(Michael Snyder photo)
| ZOOM |
        She saw a young mother, tiny toddlers in tow, heading outside on a blustery cold winter day wearing only a thin sweater. Mrs. Hartman peeled off her own coat and draped it around the shivering mother's shoulders.

        So began her mission.

        That same winter, 1996, the Middletown resident began stopping by the shelter to lend a hand for whatever needed doing. She was soon immersed in creating new fund-raising ideas for the always-struggling shelter, and joined its board of directors in 1998.

        Mrs. Hartman, 52, an associate marketing representative at AK Steel, brought in a friend, a mezzo-soprano professional singer in New York, to perform a concert in 1999 that raised nearly $10,000 for Hope House.

        She helped establish a Soup Bowl luncheon, a continuing, cooperative effort between local churches and art students at Miami University to raise funds for the shelter. The students created decorative bowls which the church sells at soup luncheons.

        In 1997, she and a co-worker, Julie Heitzenrater, had a special Christmas surprise for the 40 Hope House residents that included a visit to the Festival of Lights at Cincinnati Zoo, a pizza party, and presents for all.

        In 2000, Mrs. Hartman was one of 10 recipients of the Bengals Community Quarterback award, and was one of two runners-up for the role of national representative. Those two honors brought in a contribution of $3,500 for Hope House.

        In 1999, Mrs. Hartman was named “volunteer of the year” and given the Mary Maurer Middletown Community Foundation award, and a check for $350 for Hope House.

        “Oh, Lee is just so precious,” Hope House director Nancy Caudill said. “She spends a lot of time raising money. And there's just no end to what she does for us.”

        Mrs. Hartman said her efforts come from the heart, and are inspired by Mrs. Caudill.

        “Seeing all she does for Hope House is one thing that drives me,” Mrs. Hartman said. “That, and seeing the faces of those you help. There's nothing like it.”

       Do you know a Hometown Hero — someone in your community dedicated to making it a better place to live and helping others? E-mail Janet Wetzel at or fax to 755-4150.

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