The Nancy Painter Home: Founding
As I began to become successful as a Director and Choreographer I decided that I would like to give something back to the world that had allowed me to advance to my current life. I spent a couple of months thinking it over. I found myself directing an awards evening that was being sponsored by Newman’s Own. Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward were going to be the hosts and presenters. A mutual friend was the producer and asked me to direct and stage the evening. Now, by this time I had figured out what I wanted to create. I wanted a home, a loving space for single mothers and children. Homeless, or in dire financial straits and about to to be homeless or single and pregnant with no means of support. Since I was raised by a single mother I felt I knew the problems of these moms and also felt, because of my background, that I could somehow help them over the many “rough spots” I knew they would be encountering.
While working with the Newmans I found myself, quite by surprise, at dinner with them. Just the three of us. During dinner, Paul asked to me, “why are you doing this?” (I was working without pay because I was very much in favor of what hte Newman’s were doing with Newman’s Own). I answered, “my phone rings..and sometimes I make good money and sometimes I give it away…I just sort of go where God sends me.”
Paul replied,”ya know, God is very smart…why do you suppose God sent you to me?”
I answered, “I think God sent me to you so I could tell you my idea”. And I did. I told them my dream of this home for mothers with children that would be named after my mother. I wanted the world (or anyone I could tell) to know what she did for my sister and me, her sacrifices she made and the hardships she endured. I wanted her story to be heard.
I realized that raising kids today as a single mom has got to be a lot more difficult than when I was a kid. Paul listened to me and then said, “I like this idea. Come to New York and we’ll talk about it more.” I was delighted.
I went to New York and there Paul Newman and I talked about my idea. He donated all of our start up money over a three year period. I came back to Los Angeles and started to work. My wife Charlene, was and is very helpful and it has become our project together.
We formed a board of directors put on fundraisers and began our search for the right property. At one meeting one of the board members suggested that we merge with another major charity to help us. We were, after all, not social workers and we did need help.
I went to the Salvation Army. I told them about the idea and the involvement of Newman’s Own. They were very interested. It so happened that there was a home in Glendale, CA that was having financial trouble and The Glendale Branch of hte Salvation Army was thinking about closing it. Did we want to see it? Yes we did-very much!
The rest is a sort of happy history. The home was exactly what we had in mind. The people at the Glendale Branch of the Salvation Army were wonderful. After much work on the home and after two more wonderful “angels” started helping us and after much waiting…We opened
THE SALVATION ARMY NANCY PAINTER HOME.
We couldn’t be happier!! We have a newer younger board now and we have our long range plans in place. Someday there will be Nancy Painter Homes all over the USA. Nancy Painter did not sacrifice her life for her children for nothing. Because of her, thousands of mothers with children will have the opportunity to better their lives, find a home for their kids and in reality….live happily ever after!