Former Foster Child Sees Chance to Help Others

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Former Hearst Official Learns Valuable Lessons Shuffling From Home To Home
Triad Section by Ellica Church
News & Record (Greenboro, NC) 

Each new foster home sparked a sense of uncertainty. The people were strange, the house and neighborhood unfamiliar. Each time Bob Danzig got shuffled from one foster home to another in upstate New York, he never felt like he fit in.But the former vice president of the Hearst Corp . and nationwide head of the Hearst Newspaper Group did take away lessons and coping skills from his time in foster care that later proved useful.

Wednesday afternoon he shared his experience as a foster child. The Children’s Home Society of North Carolina invited him to give the keynote speech at the group’s recognition ceremony Wednesday night.

The society started in 1902 to find homes for orphans.Since then, it has provided support for children and families in the foster-care system and those working toward adoption.

Wednesday’s ceremony honored individuals and groups for their contributions to the society, including those who gave donations toward the group’s ongoing $10 million capital campaign. More than $8.5 million has been raised.

Danzig was only 2 when he was placed in foster care. He doesn’t remember much from those early foster homes. It’s memories from the last five homes he lived in between the ages of 9 and 16 that remain vivid. He had some place to live but often felt no one cared for him. Danzig’s time in foster care taught him about persistence in the midst of adversity.

He couldn’t play with the other children at school when they took out baseball cards because he didn’t have any. So Danzig came up with mind games. And those games, such as making up rhymes for people’s names, helped teach him creativity and the value of an open mind.

Instead of getting support from family, Danzig got encouragement from people who recognized and nurtured his talents – like a supervisor at his first newspaper job.

Margaret Mahoney, the office manager in circulation at the Albany Times Union, hired him as an office boy in 1950 when he was almost 17.

Danzig remembers the afternoon Mahoney called him into her office. He thought she was going to fire him.

Instead she said how impressed she’d been with his work and told him “You are worthwhile.”

Mahoney had been a foster mother, and her words lifted Danzig’s self-worth.

By 1969, he became publisher of the paper, and by 1977 he was head of the Hearst group.

Danzig now spends most of his time teaching, speaking and writing about foster children and about building their confidence.

Danzig often sends money, accompanied by a note, to foster children in college.

“When you have nobody else in your corner, having anybody else in your corner has a tremendous impact,” Danzig said. “You never know when you take the time to endorse someone how lasting those impressions would be.”