2018 JEFFERSON AWARDS: Nominee Uses Her “Heart for the Homeless”

There are a lot of words that describe Barb Montgomery: Wife, Mother, Grandma, Great Grandma. Those who don't use one of those words to describe her though use another word - Caring.

Barb is the Creator of the Have a Heart for the Homeless Luncheon. The annual event raises money for several shelters around the area and was started almost immediately after Barb retired.

"I was a teacher at United Township High School in East Moline," she described. "It was my last year of teaching and I had a homeless student and I found out that she and her mother could not get into any shelter. They had to go stay in a shelter in Clinton, Iowa and that disturbed me greatly."

That's because Barb can remember a difficult time in her life as well - when her father returned home from serving our country.

"I loved my father dearly," she said. "He served his 30 years, but there was no counseling after World War II. My father was older. He was 39 so I had been a victim. My heart went out to my student and I just had to do something and I thought - I'm retired. I could do what a want!"

So, she did - and she got the community to back her.

"She doesn't take no for an answer and she's able to - because of her passion and commitment - generate a lot of support," said Pam Hauman, Outreach Coordinator for Christian Care in Rock Island.

In just five years, attendance at the luncheon has tripled. However, as the event grows, so does the need - and Barb's need to help.

"She never seems to get tired," added Pam, who nominated Barb for the 2018 Jefferson Awards. "She has endless energy, enthusiasm, always has ideas in terms of how to make things better."

There's two ways Barb does that. She loves to shop and she loves to talk. She was able to get sponsors for Christian Care's 100th Anniversary in 2016, as well as three chapters of Modern Woodmen of America to match donations during this year's luncheon.

"My talking is to my advantage," Barb laughed. "Sometimes it gets me into a lot of trouble, but most of the time it works out with divine intervention!"

Every cent raised goes to the people and places who matter most - the ones who need the most love.

One of Barb's favorite quotes is - "To the world you may just be somebody, but to somebody you may just be the world."

For this somebody and for her heart, we're recognizing Barb Montgomery and the Have a Heart for the Homeless Luncheon as a 2018 Jefferson Awards Nominee.

The Jefferson Awards Foundation celebrates public service and the people in our communities who are changing lives. Every Wednesday in January and February, WQAD News 8 is introducing you to our 2018 Jefferson Awards Nominees. In March, we will announce our area's Finalist. That person gets to attend the National Jefferson Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C. this summer and meet other Finalists from across the country.

To see who was nominated in our previous three seasons of the Jefferson Awards, click here.

If you would like to give to Barb's cause, you can do what Barb does - shop! When you purchase a "win/win gift" for $15 at The Tattered Shoe, 708 18th Avenue, Moline, that $15 is split and goes to Christian Care in Rock Island and Humility of Mary Shelter, Inc. in Davenport. The items will be available through February 20th.

The 2018 Have a Heart for the Homeless Luncheon was sponsored by DeLeon-Thompson, Inc., Ruhl & Ruhl Realtors, SAAB of Muscatine, and Quad City Bank & Trust.