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The Heart & Hand Center – Community Corner

August 25, 2015

When she started the Heart & Hand Center, Nikki Cady’s vision was to provide a family environment for at-risk youth and to nurture possibilities so the heart of a child can become the hand of a community. The Heart and Hand Center’s (H&H) mission is to improve the lives of at-risk youth and their families. To achieve its goals, H&H provides a safe environment and an array of academic, enrichment, and referral services to children and families in Northeast Denver.

H&H began as the Denver branch of the Helping Art Liberate Orphans (HALO) Foundation in 2008. Initially, H&H focused on using art therapy to help at-risk youth develop positive coping mechanisms when dealing with difficult circumstances. By partnering with local homeless shelters and schools, the organization gave children a creative outlet to express themselves, work through their feelings, and connect with Center volunteers.

Nikki Cady quickly recognized, however, that these children needed a much broader array of services, such as access to daily meals, academic support, and activities to fill their after-school hours, a time that is statistically common for drug use and other negative behaviors. In 2012, she expanded programming and established H&H as an independent organization to better serve this community.

Originally focused on the Five Points neighborhood, H&H has extended its reach to encompass all of Northeast Denver. In the past five years, the organization has grown from serving 20 to 100 students daily.

K-12 students attend H&H’s after-school and summer programming to develop healthy academic, physical, and socioemotional skills. Additionally, families receive access to goods and services that help them meet their day-to-day challenges.

H&H offers many programs that have had a big impact in:

  • Supporting Academic Success through one-on-one tutoring, homework assistance, Science Begins with Me, and BOSSreaders®;
  • Providing Socioemotional Enrichment with art therapy, SMART-Girl® mentoring, Girls Empowerment, and recreational activities; and,
  • Helping Families Meet Basic Needs through grocery provisions, emergency shelter assistance, and job and mental health referral services.

Operating in a region disproportionately affected by poverty, these programs and services empower youth to resist negative influences and become productive members of the community. By actively seeking input from participants and parents, the organization constantly adapts its programming to fit its participants’ needs and interests.

Through this work, the Heart & Hand Center continues to help local children develop critical skills, enhance their relationships, and improve their self images so they can realize their full potential and flourish as contributing members of society.

If you’re interested in learning more about our client and their amazing work, visit www.heartandhandcenter.org.

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