Debbie Hinckley knew that she wanted to be a teacher when she was 10 years old because she believed that they have the ability to be a positive influence in children’s lives.
“I feel like I can have an impact,” Hinckley said. “I can be one person that actually does something that influences children.”
Hinckley achieved her childhood dream working as an English teacher at Woodrow Wilson Middle School after getting her teaching credential and master’s degree at the University of Southern California. She currently substitute teaches at Mayfield Junior School in Pasadena.
Hinckley’s community service efforts reflect her motivation to help underprivileged children receive an equal education. Today, Hinckley is most involved in Las Candelas, a nonprofit that works to improve the lives of emotionally disturbed children. She served as president in 1999 and currently volunteers at the Las Candelas gift store at Hillsides, a foster care and special education center for abused children. The students at Hillsides receive points for good behavior, which they can exchange for gifts at the store.
“The most rewarding part about Las Candelas is working directly with the children,” Hinckley said, “and seeing the joy in their faces when they are able to purchase a toy or see an assembly or cultural event that really influences them; that, they really appreciate.”
Hinckley has also been president of Glendale Healthy Kids, an organization that provides medical care for children without insurance. She received the nonprofit’s Volunteer Service Award in 2002 for her efforts.
“I think that to provide access to health care for children who otherwise wouldn’t have it is very important because if children are sick, they can’t learn, and they miss school,” Hinckley said. “One thing leads to another, so I think it is very important for children to be given the benefit of a healthy life.”
Cathy Keen, who has worked alongside Hinckley on the board of Glendale Healthy Kids and is currently a member of Las Candelas, said she finds Hinckley to be a tireless worker.
“She can do more in one day than most people can do in three days,” Keen said.
Keen also appreciates Hinckley’s ability to be involved in a large number of organizations and keep her positive attitude.
“She’s very organized and a hard worker,” Keen said, “but at the same time keeps her humor.”