WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
Our story began in the Fall of 1983. Paul Isenberg was a senior at West Chester University when he met the love of his life, Nicole Makowski. Paul and Nicole dated for a few years and married in 1991. They had their first child Christopher in 1995 and shortly after, Nicole became pregnant with their second child, Gabrielle.
HEARING THOSE THREE WORDS
During her pregnancy with Gabby, Nicole wasn’t feeling well and finally decided to go to the doctor to see what was going on. Nicole then heard three words that changed her life forever: “you have cancer.” While she was nine months pregnant, and at the age of only 32, Nicole was diagnosed with Stage IV Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Soon after her diagnosis, Nicole gave birth to a healthy baby girl and immediately started intense chemotherapy.
Not only were the Isenberg’s faced with a whole new set of challenges with raising a newborn and a toddler, they now needed to make sure Nicole was getting the best treatment possible…all while still making sure the bills were somehow being paid.
Even though this was an extremely difficult time, the Isenberg’s were astonished by the love and support from family, friends, and strangers alike. They felt so blessed to have such great people in their lives.
GATHERING THE GREAT GUYS
Over the years, Paul would often run into old friends and say things to Nicole like, “I ran into Timmy, what a great guy. I just saw Mike, what a great guy.” Nicole finally told Paul to get all of the “Great Guys” together for a benefit dinner to reconnect with his longtime friends, thank them for their support, and help other families less fortunate. This is where the concept of the “Great Guys Dinner” was born. The first Great Guys Dinner took place in 2001, gathered 100 guys and raised $13,000 that was donated to the American Cancer Society.
Nicole endured six years of intense chemotherapy and two bone marrow transplants. Her fight ended in 2003 at the young age of 39, but her legacy lives on through the special work we do in her honor.
Nicole’s “small idea” of having a dinner with close friends has now evolved into Bringing Hope Home. The Great Guys Dinner continues to be Bringing Hope Home’s largest event year after year.
SEEING THE UNMET NEED
Through his family’s long personal journey in and out of the hospital over a span of six years, Paul continued to see an unmet need in the community—people need financial help and emotional support while they are undergoing cancer treatment. That is when Paul and his co-founder Tim Sherry decided to begin what is now known as Bringing Hope Home to address this crucial need.
Great Guys Group was officially incorporated in 2008 with the sole mission of paying critical household bills for local Families with cancer. Cancer is stressful enough, let alone having to worry about how all the bills are going to get paid. In May of 2012, Great Guys Group changed its name to Bringing Hope Home to better reflect the work it does in the community. Bringing Hope Home is what we do. It is who we are, and HOPE is what we bring to our Families.