“It Needs to be a Forever Place:” One Couple’s Inspiration for Supporting BBH
It was the 1990s, at the height of the AIDS epidemic. The deadly disease was devastating communities. Many who contracted it had nowhere to turn. And longtime partners Nancy Nickelson and Gayle Stringer wanted to do something to help.
When they learned of Bailey-Boushay House (BBH) — a then-new center offering hospice care for people with AIDS — they were quick to make a generous donation.
“The AIDS crisis was so overwhelmingly sad, we couldn’t just watch it happen,” Nancy says. “From the beginning, BBH had such a good reputation and we wanted to support them.”
As scientific understanding of HIV/AIDS progressed, the disease shifted from a death sentence to a chronic illness. And BBH adapted too, helping clients manage HIV and expanding their end-of-life care to serve people with a wider range of illnesses. That’s how BBH became even more meaningful to Nancy and Gayle.
“My sister Shirley had breast cancer and came to BBH after a bone marrow transplant. They cared for her in a pretty marvelous way,” Gayle says. “I remember sitting in hours of traffic on my way to visit her in the afternoons and feeling so tense. But as soon as I walked into BBH, I felt relaxed, calm and ready to be there for my sister.”
The expertise and compassion of the BBH staff made a lasting impact on Gayle and Nancy.
“Shirley’s care team gave me confidence that in the moments when we couldn't be there, she was getting the best care possible,” Gayle says. “They were just beautiful people and I got the sense that they were as invested in Shirley’s care as I was. The best word I can use to describe my feelings for them is gratitude. It’s more than I can express.”
Nancy and Gayle continue to support the organization today, knowing that BBH still provides care for many who don’t have anywhere else to turn.
“BBH offers a place of love and welcoming for many people who have been marginalized or shunned, and having that kind of place is so important,” Nancy says.
Their gifts to BBH are unrestricted, meaning BBH can use them for any area of need across their organization.
“The nature of an unrestricted gift is that it can be used for any needs that arise,” Gayle says. “We donate in this way because BBH needs to be a forever place. Whatever challenges or sicknesses arise in the future, the important thing is that BBH is there for those who need it.”