In 2010, Nikki Cady was volunteering with youth in homeless shelters throughout Northeast Denver. One day, as she walked around the room of kids completing art projects, she asked one young girl about her painting. The girl told Nikki that she was leaving the shelter the next day and didn’t know how she would see Nikki again. She explained that the painting she made was of the center she hoped Nikki would open, so that she could find her again. That day, Nikki decided to start the Heart & Hand Center.
Beginning in a small house on the corner of Welton and 28th, Nikki and one intern, Blaine Heydt, offered afterschool programming for about thirty local youth. From the start, Heart & Hand was known as a place where young people could show up, receive a high five or a hug, get something to eat, and know they were safe. What began as peanut butter sandwiches and art projects, quickly grew into structured afterschool programming offered at schools throughout Northeast Denver.
Nikki served as Executive Director of the Heart & Hand Center for 5 years, before stepping back to a part-time role. Today, Nikki remains on the Heart & Hand leadership team and Board of Directors. Heart & Hand’s first employee, Blaine, currently serves as the organization’s Chief Operating Officer. Heart & Hand is proud to continue to provide workshops and resources in the Heart & Hand “Center” on Welton Street, although we now support nearly 300 students across four programs and three sites.