Nancy Buckingham Harms: A Beacon of Warmth, Empowerment, Lifelong Giving
Nancy Buckingham Harms’ bright, beautiful, and hospitable smile welcomes you, and you feel at home, regardless of where you are. And she has a way of making every person feel at home at Midland Care.
She operated her successful life insurance and investment business for 30 years during an era when it was uncommon for women to be business owners, especially in fields like this.
Nancy served as the Board President of the ERC (Every Woman’s Resource Center.) Through this program, she became connected to Midland Care.
In September 2005, Nancy joined Midland Care in Topeka Faith in Action (TFIA) as the Program Coordinator. With that, she served in recruiting, training, and matching community volunteers with TFIA clients to assist them in remaining independent. Midland Care administered the grant, which funded the TFIA program.
In the beginning, Nancy wanted nothing to do with Hospice because she had endured so much loss at such a young age. She lost her Mom when she was only 19 and then her Dad when she was 23. And other losses spiraled soon after.
She had the misconception that many in our society have, that Hospice is only about death. However, listening to the Hospice nurses, Nancy realized what Hospice was truly about.
“I learned that their focus wasn’t on dying but on living. Hospice is about living the best possible life surrounded by people you love. Now you know that’s why I am still here.”
As that position was winding down due to the acquisition of grants, they asked her to work one afternoon per week and one Saturday per month at the second-hand store “Findables.”
The previous store manager had quit, and they would be closed for a short time to get their carpets cleaned; then, they only needed Nancy’s help until they hired a new manager in January. Nancy said they never specified what year they would stop needing her help, so she stayed there for thirteen years.
She had never run a retail store but didn’t let that stop her. They gave her autonomy and let her have fun creating sales and fashion shows. She loved everything about running the store: the people, the staff, and her crew of 60 dedicated volunteers.
They had to move to a new location, and then when the pandemic hit, they closed for four months. Then, they opened long enough for a going-out-of-business sale.
Yet, she always has side projects in the back of her mind. She helped get the well-known muralist Andy Valdivia to bring the butterflies to life on the campus, the same art people take pictures in front of at our annual Celebration Walk. Nancy’s connection to Andy was through his wife Patti, a Midland Care volunteer.
Nancy, a native Iowan, likes to make the Midland Care campus feel like home for herself and everyone else who visits, as most of her loved ones are laid to rest far from Topeka.
Just like the sunflowers, just being around Nancy makes you feel like you are always facing the sun, and tomorrow will always be a better day because of her.
Nancy serves as the Volunteer Coordinator and works closely with Amy Barter, the Volunteer Coordinator for Meals on Wheels. Between the two of them, they can help people figure out which capacity would best fit which area they hope to give back to the community. If you are interested in giving back to our community, please reach out to Nancy at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.