Everything is a blur when you are in the midst of memorials and other honorary events for a loved one. I remember on many occasions after my husband Bruce was killed in 2008, looking around the room and seeing other widows. Although we had not been introduced, we shared a common bond, a similar loss, yet individually we were all consumed by our own grief.
Some may be able to relate, but apparently with the loss of your loved one you also lose your memory—Who knew? It seems along with the loss of memory; we also have an overwhelming desire to show our gratitude and appreciation for all the support shown. Our loss spurs a need to do something that will make a difference.
I remember a woman from Tucson with a small child. Despite passing each other at several events we never really had the opportunity to get to know each other. I recently had the pleasure of getting to know Nohemy Hite, widow of Officer Erik Hite – Tucson Police Department, end of watch (EOW) 6/2/08.
Nohemy and Erik had discussed the possibility of Nohemy being left alone to raise their daughter. Nohemy, having no family in the area, always told Erik she would go and live near her family. He always said, “just think of Samantha.” This statement rang in her ears after Erik’s life was cut short when he was shot and killed. She realized she needed to spend time with her daughter in Tucson. During those early days. Nohemy realized there was a common need in the day to day lives of those serving the community.
Passion Born Out of Tragedy
Nohemy will forever grieve the loss of her husband but during the first 18 months following his death, she found herself with a restless energy. She knew she needed to channel this energy into something positive.
Nohemy’s desire to bring good from Erik’s death brought a vision which sparked “The Erik Hite Foundation” (EHF), a foundation to provide childcare for public safety families.
As Nohemy worked on her dream, she often wondered if the public safety community was watching to see if “the widow” would really do something. Would she really see it through to fruition? Nohemy, feeling those watching eyes, took this as a personal challenge.
It wasn’t long before her dream of serving the public safety community, became a reality. It allowed her to enjoy her daughter while continuing Erik’s legacy of serving.
Families of public safety have the constant challenge of childcare. A unique component of the EHF childcare facility is the staff is trained to understand the non-typical schedule of the public safety profession. There are last minute call outs, a late traffic stop requiring a report that can’t wait until the next day. Shift work is difficult; incorporate the life of a single officer-parent, the challenges quadruple.
The EHF was fortunate to find a space that was formerly a day care center, reducing the amount of interior improvements needed and the dream became reality. Nohemy is thankful the Tucson Police Department believed in her and the foundation. Because of this support, despite many challenges, the Hite family was encouraged to make the first investment for the facility.
The Erik Hite Foundation (EHF)
The Erik Hite Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, was established to provide childcare and family outreach programs for the children of Law Enforcement and Emergency Services personnel. The program serves both sworn and non-sworn employees from agencies such as the Tucson Police Department, Pima County Sheriffs Department, AZ Department of Public Safety, US Border Patrol, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Fire Departments, and Active Duty Military personnel.
The EHF wants to serve and care for these families, following Godly principles close to Erik’s heart, as these men and women serve and protect our community.
EHF hopes to build four facilities around Tucson and potentially expand to the Phoenix metropolitan area. The vision: each department will have a program to meet the daycare challenges of public safety employees.
Funding is always a challenge. As a non-profit, EHF is able to supplement the monthly day care costs to all public safety families who access the services of the EHF Center. Parents generally pay 30% less than the standard daycare center. In order to provide the highest level of care, the Center relies on donations and family support. The Center is always looking for snacks, toys and other materials.
Visit http://erikhitefoundation.org/ for more information.
by: Angela Harrolle
100 Club Survivor