Former employee donates greeting card company to Lifetime Assistance

COURTESY OF LIFETIME ASSISTANCE

Lifetime Assistance has added a new company to its portfolio of businesses employing people with developmental disabilities, thanks to a gift from former employee Bob Hickey.  

Hickey, a 13-year employee and former Work Center business manager for Lifetime’s LAICO Industries division, donated the greeting card business he founded, Patent Press Greetings Cards, to the agency before dying of pancreatic cancer on April 30, 2021, at the age of 60.  

The late Bob Hickey and his wife, Annette, at a greeting card trade show in Los Angeles.

Having led a series of successful start-up businesses for Lifetime that created meaningful employment for people with disabilities, Hickey knew that Patent Press had the potential to grow. He said, “The biggest reward was making pragmatic change for people who thought they would only work in a limited capacity reach their full potential.”  

Patent Press is a line of more than 400 card designs featuring artwork that accompanied patent applications filed with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. The wholesale and retail business sells cards online and in more than 100 stores and museums in major cities throughout the U.S. In Rochester, the cards are sold at Parkleigh and Record Archive. 

“This was a most generous donation to Lifetime, and we are very grateful that Bob saw the opportunity for its growth and success within the Lifetime family of businesses,” said Jamie Branciforte, president and CEO. “Bob’s dedication to helping those we support to discover their abilities and put them to work in productive activities exemplify the Lifetime mission. We hope that it was a great comfort to him knowing that Lifetime would carry his unique creation forward, and grow it so that it will continue to provide interesting and challenging employment opportunities for the people he and Lifetime care so much about.”

Brandon Nesmith, an individual at Lifetime's Work Center, packages greeting card orders as supervisor Nate Ainsworth looks on.

After a short pause to transfer various aspects of the business, Patent Press is up and running, fulfilling orders and providing employment for several people including three with developmental disabilities. They are putting their creative skills to work designing a thank-you card to go out with orders, and will design and write greetings for new cards. 

The cards are printed by Image Printers, the Rochester-based printer that worked with Hickey. Pricing remains the same. 

Patent Press is managed by a team led by Amy Mitchell, vice president of Day Services, who oversees the Work Center’s services, and Katie Gillespie, director of community services. The team spent several months transitioning the business and relocating it to the Work Center at 426 Paul Road,. Hickey’s wife, Annette, who worked with her husband at Patent Press on nights and weekends, helped with the transition.

“We are very grateful to Bob and Annette, and we will continue to honor his legacy,” Gillespie and Mitchell said. “The people receiving supports and services at our Work Center enjoy learning the various aspects of the business and look forward to using their creative skills to continue to grow the business.  

“Bob is greatly missed at Lifetime Assistance. His presence still exists in the Work Center with his cards. He continues to make us laugh as we read the humorous content inside the cards and his mission to help people find employment continues to move forward as the Work Center staff teach the people supported how to operate the greeting card business.”

Patent Press greeting cards feature the artwork from patent applications that were filed with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Hickey continued to think about how he could help others, sharing his ideas and strategies for running the Patent Press business in its new home at Lifetime.  

“He would call me to share an idea that had popped into his head,” Gillespie said. “He was still so lucid and had so much energy. He wanted to be sure we had as much knowledge as he could impart so that we could take over the business, grow it and provide meaningful employment opportunities for people with disabilities." 

All card sales benefit Lifetime Assistance. Visit patentpressgreetingcards.com for information.