Updated: Sep 29
Community Leader and Nacho Lover
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou
A lifelong activist and innovator in community-led social justice, Hillary Nichols joined our team at CASA of CGS in early 2013, working part-time managing our social media accounts. Around this time, she also founded Operation South Jersey, a local initiative that originally focused on helping the homeless and local homeless shelters in our South Jersey communities.
In 2016 when Hopeloft was born--a house for people, projects, and organizations dedicated to solving serious social challenges--Hillary shifted Operation South Jersey’s attention to center around community building and serving foster youth and families in crisis—all of which are targeted focal points that align more directly with Hopeloft’s vision to imagine a future where every child can go to college, get a good job, achieve their dreams, and give back.
Over the past seven years, Hillary has collected over 800 duffel bags and suit cases filled with hygiene products, stuffed animals, and blankets for foster youth throughout NJ; given over 4,000 Christmas gifts to foster youth, children of incarcerated parents, and families in need; helped provide school supplies to over 1,000 local youth; collected over 100 birthday gifts for local foster youth; given out over 300 care packages to the homeless; helped provide winter coats and winter gear to over 400 community members in need; facilitated volunteers to help make 1,200 PB&J sandwich lunches for the hungry in Bridgeton; held 13 open mic benefit shows that have given a platform to 70 local creatives while raising $1000 for local charities; and co-founded Prism of South Jersey, a local LGBTQ+ club that provides a safe space for local queer youth to meet and hang out on a monthly basis. Hillary’s work and impact on our community is indispensable, and her dedication and commitment to giving back to others is just one of the many reasons why we are lucky to have her on our team.
Hillary describes herself as a boy mom, an artist, and a humanitarian who loves to read, bake, wander trails, and eat nachos. She values the power of self-care through reading, and has compiled a list of her favorite works of literature, from poetry to thrillers, that help her de-stress and re-center. She hopes you enjoy!
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
“Tuesday with Morrie is a classic for me and has always been my go-to-book that I recommend to people who don't read often. It's a quick read that discusses life, death, forgiveness, trust, and belief, while giving advice and wisdom to the reader.”
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
Loneliness is a sign you are in desperate need of yourself (page 153)
“Milk and Honey is for anyone who enjoys poetry. It's the "sadder" of the two poetry books by Rupi Kaur but ironically helped me get through a terrible break up. The poems focus on the hurt, love, breaking and healing within yourself and relationships.”
Supermarket by Bobby Hall
“Supermarket reminds me of a funny psychological thriller version of Perks of Being a Wallflower (which is also a classic). A very addicting read with a twist at the end that I promise won't disappoint.”
Three Women by Lisa Taddeo
“Three Women is a true story of three women from very different backgrounds who agreed to report to the author, Lisa Taddeo, for nearly a decade about their desires, infatuations, heartbreak and more. I loved the rawness of each of the women's stories and how it showcased how messy and complicated life can truly be.”
The Whisper Man by Alex North
“The Whisper Man was a book that I couldn't put down. Thrillers are my favorite and I recommend this book to anyone who loves stories about mysteries, ghost and murder.”
The Chestnut Man by Soren Sviestrup
“The Chestnut Man is another thriller that's a longer read but the suspense is so addicting. The story line was amazing and the ending was so good, I wanted to reread as soon as I finished it.”
Our team at CASA of CGS is dedicated to providing helpful and diverse resources to our community, especially during this time. If you are searching for some more book recommendations or self-care resources, please read this book recommendation blog or check out Hopeloft's self-care resource page!