Born a fighter on March 15, 1966, Jennifer Fitzgerald survived her first of four open-heart surgeries at just 9 months old. Jennifer defied the odds and lived an active life, swimming, sailing and skiing until her untimely death to heart failure in 2005.
After graduating from Cal State Long Beach with a degree in Child Development, Jennifer opened and operated a successful corporate child care and preschool program. One day as Jennifer drove down a busy Long Beach street, she saw an unattended toddler wandering alone, wearing only a diaper, his parents nowhere to be seen.
In 1997, Jennifer and her good friend Theresa Bixby, formed Children Today. Their goal was to provide a safe, nurturing place for young children experiencing homelessness to be while their parents focused on stabilizing the family. Many years later, Children Today is living up to its founders' vision, having provided critical child care and support services to hundreds of families facing homelessness.
Few people knew of her heart condition because she had such tremendous energy. Jennifer had an indomitable spirit and a passion for life. She loved her family and friends with all her heart. Her early departure reminds us to live to the fullest and to care for others. Jennifer married Brian Fitzgerald in 1991 and they had two beautiful children, Katy and Jack.
Theresa Bixby is the co-founder of Children Today. She received a Bachelor’s Degrees in Math and Computer Science from UC Berkeley and has worked as a staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and a Systems Development Manager at TRW Financial Systems. Theresa was a member of the U.S. National Women’s Water Polo Team for ten years, six of which she served as captain, also serving as a USWP Athlete Representative and as USWP Women’s Vice-President, championing for inclusion of Women’s Water Polo in the Olympic Games. Theresa is a member of the 2003 US Water Polo Hall of Fame, the first year to recognize female players.
Since moving to Long Beach in 1989, Theresa Bixby, has lived a life of community service. She served for many years as the PTA President for Charles F. Kettering Elementary School which all 3 of her children Ryan, Kirra and Jessica attended, has been on the board of Pursuit of Excellence, and has been a member of Stand for Children.
However, her most enduring legacy (so far), has been her work with Children Today. Theresa and her friend and collaborator, Jennifer, created the organization from the ground up, making it into a program that provides the safety and nurturing that every child needs and that few children who are experiencing homelessness receive. It's been over nineteen years since the founding of Children Today and Theresa is still a very visible, influential, and loyal advocate.