In October of 1983, Paul Isenberg was a senior at West Chester University. He was walking outside of Wayne Hall when he ran into a girl who lived on his floor, Janet. Paul tried to convince Janet to introduce him to the girl she was talking with – Nicole Makowski.
Paul was “completely taken” by her. After a while, Paul convinced Nicole to go on a date with him, and they eventually fell in love. In 1991, they were married. In 1995, Paul and Nicole’s first child, Christopher, was born.
Tragedy struck shortly after, when Nicole was pregnant with their second child, Gabrielle. Nicole was diagnosed with Stage IV Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
The Isenbergs were overwhelmed by the support they got from their families and friends. It was this kind of support, along with Paul’s habit of saying he had run into his friend, “a great guy” that inspired their first charity dinner. Nicole suggested a “Great Guys” charity dinner to benefit other families suffering from cancer and to thank their friends for their support.
The Great Guys dinners eventually became a yearly tradition and the start of their very own charity. The first dinner raised over $13,000 for local cancer charities.
Unfortunately, after a six year battle with cancer, Nicole passed away in 2003. The charity lives on as her legacy.
In 2008, the Great Guys charity officially began. In 2012, it changed its name to Bringing Hope Home.
Now, this charity which got its start at West Chester University has come home. In the past year, Bringing Hope Home has started its own chapter here at WCU.
According to its Orgsync page, the club meets every Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Sykes Room 115. Like the larger charity, the WCU chapter seeks to “provide unexpected amazingness to local families with cancer through financial and emotional support.” The club includes meetings, fundraisers, and volunteering.
Other clubs on campus have also taken up the cause. WCU Circle K has chosen to adopt a “Holiday Family” and buy their Christmas presents.
Bringing Hope Home does many other fundraising efforts. Through the Light of Hope Family Grant program, Bringing Hope Home pays families’ bills for a month.
The Great Guys dinners have continued and raise thousands of dollars every year. According to its website, since 2008, Bringing Hope Home has raised over $2 million for over 1,800 local families.
If you are interested in getting involved with Bringing Hope Home, you can find more information at bringinghopehome.org. Be sure to check out the WCU chapter’s meetings.
Theresa Kelly is a third-year student majoring in English literature secondary education. She can be reached at TK780615@wcupa.edu.