Fran Heitzman



Medical Condition: Cardiac disease
Medical Therapy: Pacemaker
Charities: Bridging

In 1993, Fran had quintuple bypass surgery. Fourteen years later, he received a pacemaker after passing out several times — often in unsafe environments, such as the concrete floor of the warehouse at Bridging, the nonprofit organization he founded in 1987 where he continues to volunteer. Bridging provides quality furniture and household goods to people transitioning out of homelessness and poverty. On average, Bridging distributes 11 semi-truckloads of furniture and household goods to 80 households every week. Fran’s Bakken Invitation Award will support operational expenses to run Bridging so people in Fran’s community can continue to receive household goods they need.


“The pacemaker I received in 2007 followed my quintuple bypass surgery in 1993. I am now 91 years old, and I volunteer six days a week, often for four to five hours a day, at Bridging, the organization I founded. This past summer, Bridging hit a historic landmark in clients served: More than 80,000 families —or 200,000 people —have received a basic home set-up of community-donated furniture and household goods.

“After I received the pacemaker, I like to say to anyone I speak to about helping those in need, ‘Now that I have that electricity running through me, there ain’t nothing stopping me! Get out and do something —give it away!’ The impact Bridging has made on the lives of local people in need, on the environment, and on its volunteers is monumental. Through support from individuals and businesses throughout the community, Bridging continues to bring hope and stability to thousands of local households in need.

“In 1987, I was the custodian at Pax Christi Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. A woman brought in a piece of furniture and asked me if it could be used by the church. I said no, but that I was sure I could find a home for it. After a few phone calls, I found an agency that would was thrilled to receive the furniture. That was the moment Bridging was born. I knew that if I could find a home for that item, then I should be able to find a home for more furniture. This idea could bridge the gap between those who have and those who have not.”


"I started Bridging 29 years ago and, unfortunately, there is still poverty around us and people in need. We can all make a difference in their lives. When good people get together and do good things, then good things happen. And good things happen at Bridging each and every day."


Bridging is a nonprofit organization serving the greater Twin Cities, and is the largest furniture bank in the United States. Driven by volunteers and donations of furniture and household goods from the community, Bridging has furnished more than 80,000 homes since 1987, when it was founded by Fran Heitzman. To serve as many people in need as possible, Bridging works with a network of more than 150 referring agencies, including social service and nonprofit organizations, who refer clients. These partners verify there is a need with each household before they approach Bridging for assistance. This grant will support operational expenses to run Bridging so people in Fran’s community can continue to receive household goods they need.

*Not everyone who receives this therapy will receive the same results as the patient in this story. Talk with your doctor to determine if this type of therapy is right for you.