Shared Memories: Hickey Family Foundation to the Rescue!

Jeanne Gibbons
Grant Consultant
March 2024

In late summer 2017 I received a call from Nancy Baldwin, Executive Director of the Hickey Family Foundation (HFF) in Phoenix, Arizona. Those who are lucky enough to know Nancy understand that she is a highly driven force for good, and at that time it had been an honor and a privilege for me to have partnered with her on philanthropic endeavors at multiple organizations for nearly a decade. During that time, Nancy had become one of my dearest friends. And for years, she had been telling me about NPH, an organization dear to her heart since the early days of HFF, when the founder, Frank Hickey, was still alive. NPH was the subject of our phone call that day.

“I volunteered you to write a final grant report and a new proposal for NPH this fall,” Nancy told me. Done,” I said, and she gave me generous guidance of $200,000. She put me in touch with NPH’s CEO, who explained that the organization was in a transitional phase in its grant writing program and brought me up to speed on the previous year’s project and many new and urgent needs. I went to work.

The documents were completed in mid-September. But none of the projects NPH was to present would prove so urgent as those caused by damage from a 7.1-magnitude earthquake on September 19th, 2017, and the resultant $5 million in damage at NPH homes in Cuernavaca and Miacatlᾴn, Mexico. Among the most urgent needs, the dining hall had collapsed in Miacatlᾴn as had one of the chimneys in the kitchen. The children would be forced to dine outside until the hall could be rebuilt.

When Nancy heard about the damage, she allowed me to write a supplement to the grant proposal and add $50,000 to NPH’s request. She invited me to the HFF board meeting at which the grant request would be discussed, and I flew out to Phoenix to stay with her for a few days. During our visit, she never once let on that HFF’s real plan, under her leadership, was to bless NPH with a $500,000 grant, $250,000 of which was for a new dining hall! We discovered this at the celebratory dinner that followed the board meeting, and there were many hugs and a few tears, along with the heartfelt gratitude we expressed that night.

I gratefully report that the story does not end here; the Hickey Family Foundation has continued its longstanding fidelity to NPH, with generous gifts every year since 2017, to the University Education Program and to Ciudad de los Niños, our home in Matamoros, which recently enjoyed a visit with Nancy Baldwin. HFF also supported NPH’s vocational programs in Nicaragua in recent years. HFF remains a consistent and loyal friend to the NPH pequeños under its “Rescue of Youth” mission, a mission we share.

As for me, the introduction to NPH had a profound effect on my life. What other organization provides a grant writer with the opportunity to assist in providing safe, loving homes, nutritious food – much of it home grown – education from earliest childhood through university, healthcare, spiritual guidance, family support, and so much more to more than 8,000 children in Latin America and the Caribbean every day? Not to mention vocational training and apprenticeship, mentoring, mental health support, and care for children with disabilities, many of whom will be supported by NPH through adulthood.

The extraordinary combination of love, care, support, education and guidance provided by NPH is essential to breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty into which the children it serves are born. Their lives are forever changed by interventions that are perhaps most effectively exemplifed by the numbers of children raised and educated by NPH who return to give a year of service to their NPH home. Many have dedicated their lives to working for NPH after growing up in one of its homes. Giving back is part of the NPH culture.

As for me, I continued to volunteer for NPH until 2022, when I became a corporate and foundation consultant to the fundraising team at NPH. This dedicated group inspires me every day by giving their utmost for the pequeños of NPH.