Since relocating his company NWC Construction to the Sarasota Manatee area Nathan Cross has looked to continue his ongoing charitable efforts in his new community. Through his networking efforts he learned about Deputy Karen Hicks and her extraordinary story and her dilemma with her home.
Nathan took it upon himself to organize an effort in concert with the Manatee Sarasota Building Industry Association to help Karen remodel her home. We took a moment to discuss with Deputy Hicks this magnanimous gesture on Nathan’s part and the Manatee Sarasota Building Industry Association. Karen also shared with us her own charitable efforts she has undertaken.
Karen, how did you learn about this gesture of charity?
I learned about the plan to redo my house from my mom. I was actually out on patrol and pulled over into a church parking lot to call and check on her. As we were talking, she said she had to tell me something. She then proceeded to tell me about a letter she sent a local builder that eventually found it’s way to Nathan Cross of NWC Construction. In the letter she wrote about me, my situation and the condition of my home. She explained how I was a single foster mom, a police officer and that my house was in need of work. I sat in the church parking lot that day and cried having never expected my mom to reach out to someone to help in such an extraordinary way.
Share with us about your career in law enforcement.
I have been in law enforcement for 28 years and am presently working in the Crime Prevention Unit. For approximately 12 of those years, I worked as a School Resource officer which gave me the opportunity to work with youth of all ages.
How do you stay active in your community?
I have had the opportunity to do community related charity projects through the church and on my own. Recent projects involved helping families in the Newtown area painting houses. I also had the opportunity to help out on the “Turn the lights on” Harvest House Homes on 27th St, laying sod. On another occasion I was able to take two of my foster children to a church outreach to help a elderly couple clean their large yard.
Around 19 years ago, I became a Foster parent and my first foster child was a 12 year old boy. He is 31 now and we still talk to each other. I continue to help him with his medical needs. My other son, Daquone, is not in foster care but came to live with me six years ago.
I have fostered countless kids from elementary to high school age. Then on November 19, 2010 – the happiest day of my life – I adopted my son, Alonzo. Over the years I have taken in as many as 75 kids whose families needed help one way or another.
In addition, I have been involved in different mentoring programs such as Trinity-Youth United for Success and the YMCA’s Safe Children Coalition. I was an initial team member of a group who organized the first two Greatness Beyond Measure Teen Summit here in Sarasota. Two years after that I was a presenter in the summit. I put together a program for the kids in Newtown for two years called Sarasota All Pro Experience and was able to get retired NFL players along with a local football team to present a mentoring/football mini camp for kids. I was on the board for Hope Kids for two years, which is an organization that worked in cooperation with local churches providing a Day of Hope event for kids in the community who were in need/at risk. I continue to help at the Day of Hope events. I am a Black Belt at Suncoast Karate Dojo where I have enjoyed working with the kids teaching kids classes. Two years ago I started a Facebook mentoring page called, ONE UP.SRQ. I’m excited to be posting a video to help the youth who are training U.S. Martial arts Olympic team hopefuls. By posting their video, I am hoping these kids will get a sponsor.
We contacted Kristen Kandel of the YMCA-Safe Children Coalition and she said you are a very valued and that you have been well respected member of their fostering community since 1998. She also shared with us about how much you enjoy working with children and the impact you have had on their lives.
I believe the most important thing in life is to make a difference in a child’s life.
How will remodeling and restoring your home impact you and your family?
Redoing my home will impact my family in wonderful and amazing ways. My boys and foster children will see that at the end of the day, when you help others and put relationships first, everything else falls into place. I want my family to be able to “walk the talk of gratitude” and realize that when you do the right thing, someone just might be watching. They will see that with a spirit trust and faith how God works in and through our lives. Right now, they are excited with anticipation and hope!