Saxon/Hart & Heidi Burkhart Unite Health, Beauty, Fitness Industries to Give Back
In an ever-growing slew of “giving forward initiatives,” Saxon/Hart offers something inspirational and unique to a wide range of promising, yet struggling, individuals. Heidi Burkhart, President of affordable housing brokerage firm Dane Professional Consulting Group, may be the mastermind behind the ambitious project, but its success has been the ultimate collaborative effort. With operations self-funded by Burkhart thus far, Saxon/Hart has successfully built a strong network of beauty, health and fitness professionals united around the motto, “Give to live, live to give.” Saxon/Hart has worked in partnership with such diverse organizations as the Robin Hood Foundation, The New York City Rescue Mission, Goodwill, New Destiny, the University of North Carolina and Brooklyn Nets star Deron William’s Point of Hope Foundation, to name just a few. Flatiron District mainstays, including Hill Country, Rothmans, The Red Door Elizabeth Arden Salon and Spa, Brick NY and Baruch College, have also generously lent their support.
First and foremost, Saxon/Hart seeks to lift up (and share the stories of) remarkable individuals who are faced with adversity and challenges, through the support of the beauty, health and fitness industries. “Once you meet the person, hear their story and see how inspiring they are, it encourages you to want to give back even more – whether it’s to that person directly or to organizations they’re involved with,” Burkhart explains. To this end, Saxon/Hart produces inspirational makeover videos documenting its giving forward initiatives. The stars of these videos are the people who have found growth and fulfillment in the experiences provided by Saxon/Hart. “Reaching their personal bests, they’re achieving far more in life than they ever dreamed possible,” says Burkhart.
Saxon/Hart’s focus on beauty, health and fitness is a reflection of its founder. Growing up, Burkhart was a dedicated athlete who spent her weekdays and weekends playing tennis. She struggled with body image issues throughout her teenage years and suffered from eating disorders, which she describes as being instilled by unrealistic cultural standards. Burkhart says, “[Health] and fitness helped me accept myself and my body. That’s why Saxon/Hart is so focused on the health, fitness and beauty industries – because all work hand-in-hand, in creating that healthy mindset.”
Sixteen-year-old Lilli Finafrock, a precocious 11th grader from North Carolina, suffers from an autoimmune disease, with symptoms that include hair loss, weight gain, sensitive skin and drowsiness. Recognizing her potential, Saxon/Hart flew Lilli to New York City for a comprehensive makeover. While their backgrounds are different, a common theme runs through the life stories of both Lilli and Burkhart: a desire, born of personal struggles against adversity, to give back to their communities. As such, Lilli has dedicated herself to charitable efforts in her community, like promoting animal welfare and volunteering at soup kitchens.
In another giving forward initiative, Saxon/Hart enlisted Rothmans, a mens designer clothing store in New York City, to co-sponsor a complimentary makeover for two extraordinary individuals referred by the New York City Rescue Mission: David Butler, a former drug addict now pursuing promising careers in modeling and real estate, and Chef Pedro Rodriguez, a master chef who appeared on the Food Network’s “Chopped” and lends his expertise to both the NYC Rescue Mission and a soup kitchen he founded through his church. Both men had the opportunity to be fitted with and take home stylish new outfits.
Burkhart considers Lilli, David, Chef Pedro and all the other deserving individuals who have taken part in Saxon/Hart’s direct impact giving forward initiatives to be the greatest examples of what she hopes to accomplish – with the help of additional sponsors, organizations and volunteers – on a grander scale moving forward. The basic principle is that every individual who is empowered to better themselves and give back to their communities causes a chain reaction, inspiring others to do the same. “[David has] inspired so many people, from various walks of life, that I’ve talked to. It’s a beautiful thing to see that impact grow and continue to evolve,” explains Burkhart.
In a conversation about giving back to your community, a wealthy businessman once said something that struck Burkhart as tremendously insightful: “I hate when people say they’re wasting time, because that’s all they’ll ever have.” This quote goes a long way towards explaining the Saxon/Hart mission, complementing the official motto of “give to live, live to give.” Giving forward is not just a hobby; it’s as imperative and vital for those giving it, as it is for those receiving it. No one should ever waste time when they can contribute to the well-being of others. Burkhart speaks fondly of “feeling that high you get, when you give back,” and she hopes that through Saxon/Hart’s efforts, others will come to experience it as well. Give to live, indeed.