07 Nov Meal Cards: How a crafty entrepreneur feeds the homeless
How “meal cards” got started.
Norma Jean had plans to travel, but an illness and wrong step down the stairs injured her legs.
As a therapeutic outlet, she decided to make cards and encourage her friends. But soon enough, she’d made too many. A friend encouraged her to sell her beautiful cards, but Norma Jean wasn’t interested in making a profit.
Around the same time, she received an email from Wheeler Mission, reminding her that she could provide a homeless neighbor with hot meal for just $2.25. “And I thought, ‘Bingo!’ There goes the price of the card,” she says. At her friend’s suggestion, she would sell each card, but do so only as a means to support Wheeler Mission.
An exploding ministry.
When she started in April, Norma Jean set a goal to sell 100 cards the first year. But by the end of the month, she’d already sold 83! As her ministry took off, she encouraged her “customers” to become engaged with Wheeler and directly sponsor a meal. With that approach, the proceeds doubled, then tripled by June! By encouraging meal sponsorships, Norma Jean recognized her customers’ generosity, as many paid more per card. As payment for her cards, Norma Jean encourages buyers to write their checks directly Wheeler Mission, as every bit of the money she makes supports our guests.
(A sample of Norma Jean’s handmade cards.)
Norma Jean doesn’t advertise and simply calls her ministry project “Meal Cards.” Demand for her cards are spread through word of mouth, and when she’s out and about, she carries a bag or basket of cards and shows them to people she meets. She shares how the purchase of a single card sponsors a hot meal and gives hope and nourishment to a homeless neighbor.
Sharing her gift.
As demand for her cards is booming, Norma Jean has expanded her efforts to teaching the craft of card making. She holds “make and take” card classes for 8-10 people at a time, and charges $2.25 per person – the same cost as a meal. And at every class, she shares how her participants can care for and feed their homeless neighbors.
“It’s God at work,” she says. “When I turned it over, when I said, ‘This is yours, do with it what you want,’ this is what happened.”
If you are interested in purchasing some of Norma Jean’s “Meal Cards,” please email Social@WheelerMission.org.