How can it be that you know and love something so intimately but not have the appropriate words to describe it? I guess it’s much like the way I view my wife. With so much love, I can’t begin to describe my true emotions because I cannot accurately describe my feelings with the words created. Much the same in the way, I view my experience at h.e.a.r.t..

Sure, it might be strange to say that my marriage and my experience at h.e.a.r.t. may have any correlation what-so-ever, but let me tell you that once you are a part of the h.e.a.r.t. experience and family. It is something that will be with you and that will play an impactful role on all aspects of your life.

I find this increasingly true the further I go through life and find myself involved in more jobs, dreams, activities, and relationships. A few years ago my wife and I dreamt of pursuing one of our passions. We wanted to use talents given by God to create furniture, décor, and home design. With many relational and hands-on skills that I acquired while at h.e.a.r.t., and maybe a bit of wild-belief that we can succeed in the passions we have. We started our company called Refined Design. I also gained confidence at h.e.a.r.t., along with the ability to handle adverse and difficult situations; which also assists me in my other job, managing a health care company in my hometown.

While it may seem far-fetched that living in a primitive village with no electricity and no running water would at all help with the management of a modern health care company. As I said before, h.e.a.r.t. is something that plays an impactful role on ALL aspects of life.

I love what h.e.a.r.t. has done to me. It has spoiled me by exposing mediocrity. I will never be content with just being, but will always search for the things of which I am passionate about. Passions should bring forth action, and action bring forth impact, and impact bring forth lasting change. I pray everyday that God will continue to fill me with passions that burn so deeply that they are impossible to ignore.

Some of the most passionate people I know are those that went through similar journeys at h.e.a.r.t.: People that are making a difference in the world, whether it be teaching elementary students, working at a coffee shop, ministering overseas, or simply trying to find a place where they can pursue their passions. These people are anything but ordinary; instead they are extraordinarily better because of the relationships, experiences, and challenges that they had while attending h.e.a.r.t..

Chris Gadeken - HEART Institute Alumni - Sustainability Training Central Florida - My Refine Design Chris Gadeken

Chris Gadeken is a 2011 h.e.a.r.t. Alumni. He interned in the gardens the following year, before moving back home to marry the love of his life. The talented couple now owns Refined Design, creating beautiful upcycled pieces of decor. Check out their work here: Refined Design