It’s not unusual to find a sewing machine of some kind inside a textile manufacturer. But at Standard Textile in Cincinnati, one sewing machine in particular is on display for a very special reason.
“That’s where the story begins,” said Gary Heiman, Standard Textile President and CEO.
The Singer sewing machine belonged to Gary’s grandfather who made his way to Cincinnati decades ago after escaping Nazi Germany.
“He couldn’t get a job because his English wasn’t very good, so he actually started this company out of his apartment and hired other immigrants.”
As the business grew, it eventually moved downtown and then in 1963 to the facilities off Reading Road where the highly-successful, global company remains today.
Gary leads the organization with his wife and Standard Textile Managing Director Kim Morris Heiman. The pair also teamed up this year to spearhead United Way’s community campaign as volunteer co-chairs.
“I was brought up in very modest circumstances,” Gary said. “Agencies helped our family that are now part of United Way. We really have a big sense of giving back to the community. We feel like the community gave to us and we want to give back.”
Kim’s passion for philanthropy also dates back to her earliest beginnings. She remembers at a very young age her grandmother gave her a certificate that explained a tree was planted at an orphanage for her birthday. Kim and her grandmother visited the orphanage as well.
“I grew up with this sense that we are really here to serve our community and help our community prosper and flourish as best we can,” Kim said. “It’s something that’s been with me my whole life.”
Kim and Gary have already attended dozens of meetings, events and media interviews on behalf of United Way to help raise money for work in the community and spread their passion to others. They even recently rappelled 17 stories off the Westin Hotel to raise funds for United Way partner agency Big Brothers Big Sisters.
“Everyone can make a difference,” Kim said. “The United Way campaign is really an investment in people and an investment in our community. I imagine what could happen if every person in Cincinnati who was able to could contribute just a little to the United Way campaign. We could create a service model that is truly innovative and something other cities could look to us to see how we’ve taken a leadership role to change the way social services are delivered and really help families in need.”
The Heimans will continue spreading the message of United Way through the campaign, which concludes with a celebration Nov. 14.
“United Way covers more than 140 agencies and attacks the issue of poverty in a holistic manner together with all these agencies, so we feel it’s a very worthwhile cause to support in any way you can.”