Aimee Hickey
Aimee Hickey

DELPHOS — One local woman can’t wait for COVID-19 restriction to relax. Aimee Hickey received tax exempt status for her new program AIMingHI With Youth last week and is excited to get started.

“Our goal with the program is to help local youth in any way possible. We really want to help with getting through peer pressure and bullying and let them know they are not alone,” Hickey said.

Once Hickey can safely have gatherings, she plans a big kick off with different activities to get area youth involved.

“We’ll offer team-building activities and see what their interests are whether it be photography or cooking anything they’re in to and bring them together and have fun and let them know that we love each and every one of them and help them however we can.”

Hickey has been in touch with the local schools trying to get the word out.

“I want everyone to know we’re coming and we’re gonna be here,” she said. “We’ll be funded by donations and hopefully we can find some investors that are willing to back us. We’ll also hold fundraisers like selling shirts. Once we’re able to get with the youth, we’ll get them involved in fundraising as well.”

Hickey has one special fundraiser in mind — The Riffell Effect line of clothing.

“My best friend Tony Riffell was a very kind-hearted teddy bear. He listened to me for years say I wanted to start a youth program. I have always loved working with youth. When I lost my job in Miami County in 2017 with the youth program, I was devastated,” Hickey said. “From that day I have always dreamed of starting something on my own. I just love helping people in general, but youth really need a helping hand, a listening ear. In my negative mindset I’d say ‘I can’t do it,’ and he’d say, ‘Just do it. Focus on the big fish’.”

Riffell was an avid fisherman and a photographer so a camera and fish will be featured in the graphics of the line. He also loved to help young people.

“He told me if you take anything away from an old man, it’s to love those kids like they are your own,” Hickey said.

Riffell passed away last year.

Hickey would like to find a brick and mortar location for AIMingHI but knows that may be difficult at first.

“I’m hoping someone will let us use space until we find a place that’s right for us,” Hickey said.

The program will also need mentors.

“Everyone will have to go through a background check and be fingerprinted, etc.,” Hickey said.

Hickey’s vision is for there to be AIMingHI programs across the United States.

To be a mentor or financial backer for AIMingHI With Youth, contact Hickey at 937-524-4056 or aiminghiwithyouth@gmail.com.