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Tony Rossi

Radio Host/Producer

Patricia Heaton Humbled by Trip to Africa
January 10, 2016

When Emmy Award-winning actress and former “Everybody Loves Raymond” co-star Patricia Heaton got time off from filming her hit sitcom “The Middle” a few months ago, she traveled to Africa to build bicycles and make soy milk. Granted, that’s not all she did there, but these were some of the non-Hollywood activities she engaged in while getting to know the people of Zambia and helping promote the work of World Vision.
I’ve interviewed Heaton before about her pro-life activism. She’s one of the few people in Hollywood who are vocal about their support for the unborn. But her pro-life views extend further in that she also volunteers for a variety of charities that give the less fortunate a helping hand. That’s exactly what we talked about during our most recent interview on “Christopher Closeup.”
Heaton explained that she is a longtime supporter of World Vision, a Christian NGO (non-governmental organization) that works with children, families and communities around the world to combat poverty and injustice. The mother of four boys with her husband David Hunt, Heaton made the trip with her youngest son, who is 16. “We were able to meet our new sponsor children,” she said, “and build bikes that World Vision gives to people. Getting a bike is like having a car there.”
They also witnessed many of World Vision’s development programs in action, including clean water projects, mother’s nutrition projects, and the construction of medical clinics in conjunction with U.S. churches. In addition, they saw the benefits of the charity’s gift catalog, which allows Americans to buy things like school supplies and even goats to meet the needs of families living in poverty.
World Vision also supports savings clubs which, says Heaton, allow women to “take out loans, start businesses, build onto their house, and buy goats and animals…So it was great for me and my son, who lives a pretty nice life in California, to see how a large number of people in the world live with no electricity and who are just now getting clean water and wells. And the people of Zambia are so beautiful. They don’t have much, but they’re lovely and grateful. It was humbling.”
The trip affected Heaton spiritually, giving her a different perspective on the way she lives—and the way all Americans live: “I came home more determined to simplify my life and clear out a lot of the clutter…I think it is a reminder of how much we’ve been given in this country. Just being born on this soil is a huge gift because no matter what level you were born at economically, you can have opportunities. I saw people in Zambia who were gifted with talents and had dreams of wanting to do certain things that they were not able to do because of where they live. We can get angry and entitled here when Starbucks doesn’t have soy milk. It ruins our day. So to see people who struggle but have the joy of the Lord in them was extremely humbling and definitely has made me go back to basics with my faith.”
Heaton remains grateful as well for her success playing harried mom Frankie Heck on the “The Middle,” currently in its seventh season. She concluded, “We’ve gotten many comments about people feeling comfortable that they can sit down with their kids and [watch] ‘The Middle.’ It’s hard to find a show like that anymore, so I’m blessed that I can feel comfortable with the work I’m doing.”
For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, SIMPLIFYING YOUR LIFE, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: