Since its founding, the Nick Simons Foundation has actively supported initiatives to honor Nick's life, his love for Nepal and his interest in developing countries. Over the past decade, the Foundation has contributed significant resources to create a sustainable legacy in his name: the Nick Simons Institute, based in Kathmandu, Nepal. At the same time, the Foundation has seeded and supported discrete projects, programs and organizations that are well aligned with its mission and address Nick’s desire to make a meaningful contribution in the world. The Foundation seeks to perpetuate the values that guided Nick’s life — compassion, generosity and responsibility — while aiming to improve the lives of those less fortunate.
In 2002, a young American named Nick Simons came to work in Nepal. Despite the cultural and language barriers, he stayed for 9 months and when he returned home to New York his fondness for Nepal remained. He told his mother not to be surprised if he wound up spending his life in a country like Nepal. And he enrolled in the remaining course that would allow him to apply to medical school.
During the summer of 2003, Nick drowned while swimming in Bali. A little more than two months after his death, his parents, sisters, and a handful of friends came to Nepal hoping to create some tangible goodness in a place they knew almost nothing about. They first funded a Maternity Ward for Patan Hospital. A year later, they challenged a group of health professionals to develop an organization — a living memorial as it were — that might reach out to the least served in rural parts of the country.
Several groups of people formed around this idea. A task force gave way to a Board of Directors and the staff of the organization began to fill in posts. The young man’s parents, Jim and Marilyn, came back to Nepal twice every year. They eventually traveled to some of the remotest parts of the country, visiting eight hospitals that would become partners of the emerging Nick Simons Institute. They said, “Nepal is a gift that Nick gave us, and we have met so many wonderful people here whom otherwise we never would have known.”
What has formed is not just a development organization. People have come to know not just the programs but the people and the story behind them.