Non-profit "Has Heart" unites veterans, artists
Has Heart is taking the experiences of veterans and turning them into art, hoping it will bridge the gap between those who have fought for the country, and those they fought for.
It started as a conversation with a veteran over a cup of coffee lead Michigan man Tyler Way to start a journey across the country, all the way to right here in Lincoln.
"Through our conversation I realized the disconnect between his world as a veteran and my world as a designer so it felt like we needed to bridge that divide,” Way said.
So Way and his wife Kendra bought a trailer, and along with their cat Noel started the goal of bringing Has Heart to each state.
They pair a local veteran with a local artist to tell the story of the veteran’s life in a work of art.
"Each design and story and message is a little different, but they all have the similar tone of a desire to serve," Way said. "Not for themselves, but for the person next to them.”
Stop number 30 brought them to Nebraska, and to Melissa Ewing.
"I was the type to just want to help,” Ewing said. “Want to serve, to do the good thing and it was just always in me."
She was deployed to Afghanistan in 2008, and for the last two days worked with Pixel Bakery Jordan Lambrecht to share the story of that year.
"This is an amazing project and the second I heard about it I was like yes, absolutely,” Lambrecht said.
Ewing and Lambrecht only just met, but said it feels like they’ve known each other for years.
On Thursday, Ewing shared her story and Lambrecht took notes.
"She's got all these concepts and ideas and memories and my main goal is to be her tool,” Lambrecht said.
Then Friday, he took those ideas and created a a concept called “Everybody Can.”
Way said it represents the ability for anyone and everyone to volunteer and make a difference and an impact.
It comes from Ewing's positive spirit that she carried with her even through her deployment.
"Spending a year away from your family can be hard,” Ewing said. “But if you have that positive attitude and take on tasks and have that positive attitude and be a part of your unit it makes it go by so much faster, and when you know you're doing the right thing, that you're unit is there for a reason."
Lambrecht said this is a rough draft of the design and there’s still some finalizing to do.
When it’s complete it can be purchased as a t-shirt or a patch from Has Heart’s website.
25 percent of the proceeds with go back to Ewing to thank her for her service.
Has Heart is far from done. They have 20 states left and could use your help funding the rest of their journey.
Click on this link to donate, to purchase designs and to stay up to date on their experience.