Erik Hite legacy grows with first responders daycare

Erik Hite legacy grows with first responders daycare

Tucson is home to an innovative child-care program that came out of tragedy. Tucson Police officer Erik Hite was killed in the line of duty, June 2nd, 2008. The next year, his wife founded the Erik Hite Foundation in his memory. Today, that foundation offers a unique kind of daycare for certain families.

Located on the city's east side, this child development center is the first of its kind anywhere in the country. It caters to children six weeks old, all the way up to 12 years old. What all these kids have in common is that they come from families of police officers, firefighters, military personnel and all other emergency responders.

"Four years ago...I had a vision, a dream to honor Erik," Nohemy Hite, his wife, said.

She knows firsthand how hard it is to find good, flexible daycare.

"The hours, they were just crazy. He was taking weekends and nights," she said, recalling her late husband's work schedule.

Erik Hite served 21 years in the Air Force before becoming a Tucson Police officer.

To honor his life of service, Nohemy started the Erik Hite Foundation - aimed at helping those who've dedicated their lives to helping others.

"We're currently serving 17 different agencies in Pima County," she said of her Child Care Center, located near Broadway and Kolb. "On a daily basis, we have from 30 to 45 children here."

The Child Care Center provides age-appropriate enrichment, after-school programs, highly trained instructors, 24-hour security and real-time web cams that allow parents and loved ones to view their child at any time.

Parents absolutely rave about the center's flexible hours and competitive rates.

"Usually daycare is open about 9 to 5," says Lisa Jeffrey, a Tucson Police officer and mother of two. "I can bring my son here at 6:30 in the morning. And if he needs to say here until 8 at night, they are very helpful with that."

Jeffrey's not the only one who appreciates the fact the center's open every day from 5:30 in the morning until midnight.

Sheena Edwards and her husband are both active-duty at Davis Monthan Air Force Base.

"Basically, we'd get charged a fee for every minute we'd be late in the afternoon picking him up," Sheena said of the daycare on base. "And here we don't have that trouble."

Originally from South Carolina and Alabama, the Edwards have no relatives in Tucson, yet another reason the Child Care Center makes so much sense for military families.

"Even weekend care- sometimes it's a necessity we have to work on weekends," Sheena said, holding her seven-month-old son. "If we let them know up front that's going to happen, they have no problem working around our schedule so we really appreciate it. We love it."

Just as Nohemy loves that she's able to help others…the same way her husband and best friend did for so many years.

"It's healing for me and for my family," she said, tears welling in her eyes. "Knowing that Erik's name is still helping -- he's not here physically, but his name is helping our first responders' community."

A second Child Care Center is already in the works and could be built on the city's northwest side within the next two years.

For more information about the Erik Hite Foundation Child Care Center, go to: