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Joining hands for a North Platte womanTell North Platte what you think
Photo by George Lauby
Wilma Hackney, 2011

On Aug. 24, Ryan and Sarah Alexander will work on the home of Wilma Hackney of North Platte.

Hackney was widowed in 1998. she has spent her life serving orphans through the Nebraska Foster Care system. She was named a “Woman of Achievement” in 2011 by the North Platte Business and Professional Women's club.

Businesses and individuals can join hands to help her by donating supplies for this project. To donate, contact Ryan Alexander at 520-1251.

Volunteers on this project will not only help Hackney, they will raise funds to offset the costs for the Alexander’s adoption of a little girl from Ghana, West Africa.

Volunteers will be sponsored for a day of labor much in the same way that a 5K marathon runner or golfer earns funds for a charity.

Both Hands Foundation is 501(c)3 non-profit organization “serving widows, orphans and adoptive families.” Founded in 2008, the Nashville-based nonprofit’s purpose is to help people raise funds for orphans, while serving widows through home improvement projects.

One hundred percent of the money donated goes to the designated recipients, Alexander said. Private donors also pay the administrative costs at Both Hands.

Each project starts with an adoptive family. The family recruits a team of friends to work on a widow’s house. Before doing light repairs, painting, de-cluttering, cleaning and landscaping, team members ask family members and friends to sponsor them for the day while they work on the house.

To date, Both Hands has raised more than $2.85 million, helped 284 widows, affected 304 orphans, enabled more than 7,900 people to serve a widow in need in their community, and completed more than 266 projects like this one.

The Alexanders hope to be able to bring their new child home from Ghana within the next year.

Donations can be made online at HERE.

Woman of achievement

Hackney is a member of Calvary Baptist church, where Alexander is the pastor.

For more than 40 years, Hackney has made the foster care system work in her home.

Hackney, 77, and her husband William adopted a daughter in 1972, and continued to give children a home. Over the years, they took in dozens of foster children. Wilma loses count around 40.

Hackney’s foster care started as a joint effort. William was a minister and Wilma wanted to devote part of her time to ministry too, so they began taking foster children. But their choice was challenged in 1998, when William died suddenly, leaving Wilma with five children at home, ages 3-10.

“I was working part time at the Callahan Cancer Center, and kept thinking I wouldn’t be able to do it all,” she said. “I sat down with the kids and said ‘I can’t do this without you,’ and they all said ‘Okay, we will pitch in.’”

“The kids had a routine,” she said. “The youngest to oldest, getting everyone ready. They worked together, and we had lots of good influences from church members at Calvary Baptist. Several men stepped up and took part in their lives.”

The oldest boys did dishes at night and took care of the yard work.

A month after her husband died, Wilma became the legal guardian of three of the children.

The oldest are grown and out of the house now. The youngest, Stephanie Anderson, just four years old when William died, won the Nebraska Believers and Achievers award in 2011 as a Hershey student.

Hackney also has two girls ages 10 and 13.

“They have been my life,” she told the Bulletin in 2011. “They have kept me going. Over the years, I keep thinking I won’t do it many more years, but I just keep at it.

Dennis O’Brien, an investigator with Health and Human Services, nominated Wilma for the Woman of Achievement award.

“Those little kids deserve a home,” she said. “They deserve somebody, I do it because I want them to know they are fed, loved and cared for. I want my life to count for something.”

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 8/17/2013
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