Helen’s Hope Chest memorializes the life of Helen Paula Simmons, a former foster child who managed to raise a family of her own despite difficult circumstances.
One day during the depths of the Great Depression, a desperately poor single mother living in Manhattan dropped her two young children off at the New York Founding Hospital. Helen was only 17 months old; her brother Walter a year older. Thus began a long and difficult but inspiring journey for Helen Paula Simmons. Soon after being abandoned by their mother, Helen and Walter were placed in a foster home, where they grew up.
The experience left Helen with a haunting sense of being unwanted, according to her daughters, Debbie Jacobus and Regena Field. It also instilled in Helen a fierce determination that, no matter what hardships life dealt her she would never abandon her own children. She would love them and somehow provide for them, no matter what, so they always would feel valued.
After Helen died in June of 2009, Debbie and Regena took on the sad task of going through their mothers’ belongings. They came across a piece of paper on which their mother had written a single sentence-a simple but powerful thought that their mother lived by: “Children are the anchors that hold a mother to life.”
Debbie and Regena want to share with the community their mother’s legacy of love and determination.
Helen’s legacy will live on through Helen’s Hope Chest, providing our community with a priceless opportunity to help instill in foster children the love, security and self worth that every child needs and deserves. Helen’s Hope Chest honors her memory with a place where children in foster care will have their own “store” where they can pick out whatever they need at no cost. Helen’s family was looking for a way to memorialize Helen Simmons and believes their mom would be proud of Helen’s Hope Chest.