A woman who impacted the borough for many years passed away right before Thanksgiving.
On Sunday, November 24, Bedford Park resident and longtime activist Heidi Hynes lost her battle to cancer at the age of 51. Hynes was born in Kansas City, MO, but spent most of her life in the Bronx.
Hynes graduated from Fordham’s Bronx campus in 1990. She was an organizer at the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition and later became a board member as well.
Sandra Lobo, the executive director of NWBCCC, reflected on her more than 20 years of working with Hynes.
“Heidi was a dynamic, joyful and passionate fighter that cared deeply about issues of peace and justice and was a great advocate around health issues in the Bronx through a social determinants of health framework, meaning that health was not just linked to personal choice, but larger systemic issues including quality of affordable housing, access to fresh fruits and vegetables, presence of violence, etc.,” Lobo said.
She recalled the time when Hynes was selected to be a part of a small group of people to meet with Ben Bernacke, chairman of the Federal Reserve.
She addressed him passionately advocating for the chairman to take responsibility for the predatory loans made to families during the housing crisis and not bail out big banks. In that meeting, Hynes pounded on the table while her voice cracked sharing the impact that those bad loans had on communities like the Bronx.
“Many of us get disillusioned by how negative the world seems at times, even overwhelmed by how our work feels insufficient by the magnitude of inequality in the world,” Lobo said. “Heidi was one of those leaders that was always optimistic and joyful and inspired us to continue to affirm that another world is possible despite the challenges we face.”
In 1997, she became executive director at the Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center in Crotona at 2007 Mapes Avenue.
“She was the kind of person who always had a smile on her face,” said Lurgen Guzman, program director at the Mary Mitchell Center. “She was involved in a lot of different activities. She was really concerned about the kids.”
Guzman was quite emotional when talking about her friend. They worked together for 22 years and it will be hard to fill her shoes, she said.
“Basically Mary Mitchell was her home,” she said.
Guzman told the Bronx Times, Hynes left the center in September 2018 with an initial plan to return. After surgery and radiation, everyone hoped she would get better.
“She just got really sick a month ago,” she said. “We all thought she was going to come back. I’m still not ready. It’s a tragedy for the center.”
Hynes is survived by her husband Brian and daughter Frieda, her parents Frank and Michelle Schloegel back in her native Kansas City, siblings Theresa and Frankie and a several nieces and nephews.
Mary Mitchell After School Program