For many, many years, The Hamlin School has worked to support homeless families in San Francisco through a profound partnership with Hamilton Families. A child born into this world has no control over their situation; our partnership strives to address hunger, literacy, and provide awareness of homelessness faced by some of our city’s most vulnerable citizens.
Hamilton Families was established as an emergency overnight homeless shelter in 1985. At that time the shelter was located in the Haight-Ashbury district and was open nightly from 8:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m.
These days family homelessness in San Francisco has increased by more than 90% from 2007 to 2014. Over 2,000 children were homeless in 2014 and it took most families nearly nine months to access temporary shelter. Hamilton Families is working to address this crisis by helping families quickly find permanent housing. Progress in communities across the nation over the last few years has affirmed that an end to family homelessness is an achievable goal (Hamilton Families Website).
Hamlin’s connection to Hamilton dates back to the late 1990s when Hamlin’s Lend-A-Hand started partnering with the center. Lend-A-Hand is Hamlin’s dynamic Parents Association service learning program. It is open to all families and offers service opportunities with San Francisco organizations that focus on hunger, homelessness, and literacy.
Over the years Hamlin students have made snowflake decorations for Hamilton, conducted toiletry drives, participated in Holly Days gift giving, and cooked many meals. More recent efforts have been focused on a book drive, a Read With Me initiative, gingerbread house donations (100 donated in 2017), and Harvest, where students, faculty, and parents prepare a meal that feeds close to one hundred people.
Since 2010, Hamlin students and their parents have donated more than 20,000 high quality books to Hamilton and other non-profits in San Francisco. These books are greatly valued by Hamilton families and their children.
Along with the book drive, Hamlin promotes literacy through our Read With Me program at Hamilton Families. Hamlin students visit Hamilton and read to younger children in the center. This very human exchange is treasured by both Hamlin students and Hamilton children alike.
Our largest event connected to Hamilton is our annual Harvest. This year will be our 8th annual Harvest event. Hamlin’s Head of School, Wanda Holland Greene, brought the idea for Harvest from her time at the Park School in Brookline, Massachusetts. At the Park School, the service day is referred to as a Chop-a-thon. At Hamlin there is plenty of chopping as students, parents, and faculty members assemble savory trays of lasagna. There is usually a representative from Hamilton who speaks about the important work that the center does to alleviate family homelessness in San Francisco. The next day Hamlin middle school students serve the prepared food at Hamilton.
Our partnership with Hamilton Families is about embracing and celebrating our San Francisco community. Every year our organizations learn from and grow with each other. Our connection will no doubt carry on for many moons to come.
Food preparation for Harvest takes place on January 27; read the Hamlin NOW for more information.
To learn more about Hamilton Families, please visit https://hamiltonfamilies.org/