About The Thrive in Joy Nick Fagnano Foundation
Nick was a young man of exceptional character, joy for life and deep faith.
To know about the the Thrive in Joy Nick Fagnano Foundation, you first have to know about Nick. He was a friend to all he met, a dedicated student with a great sense of humor, and the best son any parent could hope for. He loved playing baseball from the age of four all the way through junior college. His life was full of promise as he was weeks away from entering his dream school-- USC's Sol Price School of Public Policy where he was excited to focus his studies on Real Estate and Urban Development and pursue a career in the revitalization of downtown Los Angeles, of which he was a passionate advocate. He was thrilled when his parents, Mary and Jay, decided to move into a DTLA loft. Mary and Jay will forever treasure every day they were able to share in the life of this exceptional young man, their only child, who lit up any room he walked into with his sparkle.
Nick meant so much to so many people whether he first befriended them at the age of 3 at Wagon Wheel Preschool, or friends he continued to gather as he made his way through life at St. Brendan Grade School, Notre Dame High School, Santa Barbara City College, and Santa Monica City College. Nick's circle included those from 8 to 80 years-old be they senior parishioners of St. Brendan Catholic Church in Los Angeles or little ones who looked up to him (literally--as Nick was an athletic 6' 2" in stature). He was just as close to some of his friends' parents as he was to their children. Nick's faith was always an important part of his life and he took it to college where he attended Sunday mass at St. Mark's Newman Center in Santa Barbara and frequently shared his faith with friends. Teammates formed another circle of deep friendships developed in every baseball league and team Nick played on-- Wilshire Baseball, City of Angels, Notre Dame High School Knights of Sherman Oaks, and Santa Barbara City College Vaqueros. More bonds formed when he got his first job at Blenders in the Grass in Isla Vista followed by Ace Hotel when he moved back to LA. Nick had very few acquaintances...rather if you met Nick, you became his friend. Nick made no distinction among age, background, culture, economics, lifestyle or race...everyone was simply, and most importantly, a friend. This included Michael, the African-American diabetic in the wheelchair with one leg and a catheter who hung out at the corner of the building where Nick lived with his parents on 9th & Broadway who Nick would converse with almost every day.
Nick's life was taken on a sparkling Sunday afternoon, July 27, 2014, shortly before 3 p.m. when the Venice Beach sun was interrupted by a single cloud that delivered a rare and unexpected lighting strike just minutes after Nick entered the ocean to rinse off the sand after spending a relaxing day sitting on the beach with two friends from high school. There was a splatter of tears from heaven and within moments the sun reappeared.
Nick's parents formed the The Thrive in Joy Nick Fagnano Foundation to keep Nick's light shining just as the sun came back out so quickly that day. Nick, too, shines on. The Foundation provides a way for all who knew Nick, and for those who never met him but are inspired by his story, to keep his positive energy having an impact in the world.
When Nick was 13 years old, he collected used baseball equipment for kids in the Dominican Republic. Inspired by his desire to help those in need in this country. The Thrive in Joy Nick Fagnano Foundation has embraced ongoing projects in the Dominican Republic including the makeover of ten out of ten classrooms at Tia Tatiana school in Herrera, one of the most impoverish districts of Santo Domingo. This project provided new student desks, learning aids, school supplies and teachers' aids to the 350+ students ages 4-18 that attend this school. Sports equipment has been purchased for over 60 children living at the Remar Orphanage in Santo Domingo and a sports field was created on the orphanage property on land that was one covered with rocks, stumps and broken glass. Volunteers join Nick's parents, Mary & Jay, along with representatives from Vision Trust, on bi-annual trips to identify and fund projects and to bring love to the children supported by the Colorado-based Vision Trust organization, which provides local leaders the resources to operate 14 Dominican Republic projects serving the most vulnerable children in the country.
The Foundation supports the following:
- Annual scholarship for a transfer student to USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy based on character and a record of activities that demonstrate teamwork, care for others and a commitment to making a positive impact on the world. The mission of The Price School is to improve the quality of life for people and their communities, here and abroad through education and research that promote innovative solutions to the most critical issues facing society.
- Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks recognizes a graduating senior each year who has been a four-year baseball player and has demonstrated exemplary traits of character, sportsmanship and respect for teammates, coaches,umpires and parents. The financial award is largely funded by NDHS parent donations to the Thrive in Joy Nick Fagnano Foundation in appreciate of Jay Fagnano's voluntary role in elevating the Notre Dame Knights baseball stadium snack bar to what parents say is 'the best high school baseball snack bar in the league, if not the country.'
- St Brendan Grade School in Los Angeles recognizes a graduating eighth grade student each year who has shown the qualities of faith, kindness, dedication, hard work, respect, sportsmanship, cheerfulness and friendship. The Thrive in Joy Nick Fagnano Foundation is grateful for the support St. Brendan School gives to the Dominican Republic projects through funds raised from Crazy Day and Nick's Favorite Lunch Day fundraisers.
- Future projects are being evaluated in Los Angeles to provide educational and recreational resources for vulnerable young people and adults to improve their lives and lead to their ability to make contributions back to their communities.
The Thrive in Joy Nick Fagnano Foundation is a partner with the Students in Action Jefferson Awards program as our local Los Angeles community partner. Through the Students in Action Program, high school students from public and private schools from all communities in Southern California will be given the tools to build leadership skills, receive support that allows them to engage others in volunteer service and, in doing so, achieve results that show a positive impact on their communities.
The Thrive in Joy Foundation is honored to sponsor the award that will be presented to the top scoring team in the Students in Action Spring Competition. This team will go on to compete at the National ceremony in Washington D.C.
The Students in Action program is founded on three pillars: 1) Leadership- Developing current & future leadership potential within students 2) Promoting the value of service and growing volunteerism within the school community and 3) Measuring the impact of volunteerism and rewarding the efforts of those who participate.