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May 23, 2006 > Hattie Hyman-Hughes- making a difference

Hattie Hyman-Hughes- making a difference

by Sunil Dhar

Hattie Hyman-Hughes is a distinguished community member and resident of Fremont who moved to the Bay Area with her family from Louisiana, settling in the Niles Township before the City of Fremont was formed. She has followed in the footsteps of her father, Morris Hyman, as a philanthropist and humanitarian. Morris was a well-known and respected leader in Fremont, founder of Fremont Bank and a key civic figure in the creation of Fremont.

Giving back to the community was a central tenet for Morris. His passion to return something to those who helped his pursuits also became a passion for Hattie as well. A philanthropic awareness of the community was formalized as Hattie assumed leadership of the Fremont Bank Foundation.

Hattie grew up in Fremont as the eldest of three children of Morris and Alvirda Hyman. In her early years, Hattie focused on her family which includes two sons, Brian and Paul, and husband Dennis. Hattie and Dennis met at a street dance in front of the Fremont Bank in Niles and recently celebrated the anniversary of 41 years of marriage!

The family has now grown to include Brian's wife, Theresa and Jessica (Brian's step-daughter). This August, Hattie and Dennis are looking forward to the birth of a grandchild and Alvirda's first great-grandchild. Brian also lives in Fremont and is very close to his parents. While Paul moved to Arizona, he also remains very close to his family.

In 1993, Hattie decided to join Fremont Bank to help the foundation with charitable giving. She believes that community volunteers are the unsung heroes of the community and wanted to support their efforts through philanthropic gifts by the bank's foundation. Although Morris passed away last October, Hattie still feels his guidance and passion giving her support and motivation.

It was at this time she met Paul Miller, who became a mentor and encouraged her to chair Tasters Showcase for Kidango.  Paul's encouragement and support enabled Hattie to turn the event into a big success. This event and others that followed helped Hattie gain a deep respect for volunteers of non-profit organizations and understand the difference they make. She says, "When you can give money to passionate people and they give their time and effort, it is a privilege to give the money." Kidango and the Tasters Showcase is still one of Hattie's most fulfilling community partnerships. 

Hattie is currently a Senior Vice President of the Fremont Bank as well as the President of the Fremont Bank Foundation (FBF). In both leadership roles, she encourages people to think of the community and get involved. She encourages the staff to sit on the board of non-profit organizations where they can make a difference. Hattie was moved by Marian Wright Edelman, founder and President of the Children's Defense Fund who said, "We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a difference, ignore the small differences we do make." She also mentors the community of women at the bank. Women at the bank meet once a month to exchange ideas and support each other in the workplace. "Being part of the workplace does not mean women cannot enjoy things that are unique to women," believes Hattie.

Over the past 12 years, Hattie has developed the skills of understanding the giving process and the many needs of the community. Most recently she was challenged as the Chairperson of the capital campaign for the Tri-City Homeless Coalition's Bridgeway East project. In this campaign, Hattie discovered the depth of the Fremont community, coming together to raise more than $1.2 million.  Hattie brought together Rotary groups, the Indo-American Community and donations from as far away as the Monterey Peninsula. Another notable partnership has paired her with HERS Breast Cancer Foundation and its Bras for Body and Soul store led by Trisha McMann. Speaking of her role in the community, Hattie explained, "We are all connected and have a lot to learn from each other."

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