UCI Connected: Nicole Balsamo

Title: Executive Director of Advancement, School of Humanities

Volunteer/charity organization name: HoldYou Foundation, a nonprofit charity founded in 2015, whose mission is to provide financial support to families with children under 18 years of age who have suffered a critical illness or injury.

How do you give back? I’m lucky enough to be a founding board member of this incredible organization, lending fundraising expertise and organizational support, as we cement our place in the Southern California philanthropic community.

Tell us about why this cause matters to you: HoldYou Foundation exists because a dear friend of mine and fellow volunteer junkie, Natalie Hill, saw a need and decided to fill it. When her cousin, Taylor, suffered a traumatic brain injury after being struck by a car while crossing the street, Natalie and many others rushed to be by the family’s side. For nine days, Taylor laid in a medically induced coma while her parents kept vigil by her bedside. The weeks and months of round the clock care that Taylor needed put her family’s life on hold. Support came from all directions, but more than anything, Taylor needed to have her mom and dad by her side. Realizing that, in the best of circumstances, family leave from a job will only cover a percentage of one’s salary, HoldYou was created. The foundation exists to financially assist families with children in medical crisis so that they can hold their children, their dreams and their families together while healing.

As a parent myself, I can honestly say there is no greater fear than the thought of something happening to one of my girls. That’s why, when Natalie shared her vision with me, I had no choice but to jump on board. If we can provide financial relief for families for even just one month so they can focus their time and energy where it belongs – on supporting and healing their baby – then we have succeeded in realizing our mission.

How can others get involved? Donate! We are a brand new nonprofit organization and literally every gift counts. This is an incredible opportunity to be a part of something that impacts people’s lives immediately and completely. Help us spread the word by sharing our mission or nominating family in need. We just gave out our first grant to a family at Mattel Children’s Hospital and it felt amazing. We are working hard to raise funds and don’t want to hold onto them. If you know a family who can benefit from our support of if you’d like to make a gift of time or money, please check out our website at www.holdyou.org or follow us on Facebook or Twitter @holdyoufoundn.


Are you a faculty or staff member who lives to volunteer and give back? Do you have a coworker who spends their weekends helping others? Tell us about the organizations you love and the people who inspire you! Email the UCI ZOTline editor at zotline@uci.edu to be featured in an upcoming issue.