For Hickey, the project holds personal meaning: He was a YOTO student in 1991 and 1992.
“I came from a broken household. My mother worked a lot and did the best she could, but I was a rambunctious teen and ended up being homeless for quite a bit of time,” he said.
After dropping out of school, he was approached by Ann Young, the founder of YOTO, who was a counselor at Amphitheater High School.
“That led to me returning to school to get a stipend and moving in with friends. I was very young and am glad to have been part of YOTO,” said Hickey.
He also credits YOTO for helping him to grow his career as a chef.
Hickey is happy to pay the philosophy of food philanthropy forward: In addition to support of YOTO and organizations such as Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson, El Charro is one of several local restaurants partnering with Make a Wish Arizona to raise funds through a four-week online cooking seminar (e.givesmart.com/events/j1K/).
Hickey said the charitable projects align with El Charro’s philosophy of giving back to the community that has helped it grow into one of Tucson’s most successful restaurant businesses.
“El Charro always been a big supporter of many youth organizations like YOTO, so it was a no-brainer to be involved this year and virtual events seem the way to go. There are still at-risk youth and kids in need, and if they don’t have classrooms to go to, what are they doing? We have to work to keep them in school,” Hickey said.