Location: Bowdoin / McKeen Center / Activity / 2009 / 2009 / Hanley Denning

Hanley Denning
Class of 1992 ~ Founder of Safe Passage ~ Common Good Award Recipient ~ 1971-2007

Posted April 01, 2009

After graduating from Bowdoin, Hanley worked on behalf of at-risk children while earning her master’s degree in education at Wheelock College in North Carolina.

Frustrated in not being able to communicate with her Spanish-speaking students, in the summer of 1997 she traveled to Guatemala to learn the language. A chance visit to the Guatemala City garbage dump changed her life.

Seeing the depths of poverty experienced by those living in the garbage dump, Hanley knew the reality facing children living there was unlike anything she had ever seen and was compelled to do something. That very same week Hanley sold her computer and car, and using some money from her savings, opened the doors of Safe Passage. Unable to afford the cost of public school, forty of Guatemala’s poorest children received tutoring, a healthy snack, and the care and attention they so desperately needed.

Today Safe Passage provides more than 550 children with education and social services. Most are the first in their families to go to school.

On January 18, 2007, Hanley was killed in a tragic automobile accident in Guatemala. However, through many who were inspired by her life, her vision continues.

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“We have work to do!”
— from Hanley's last e-mail to Safe Passage