On December 15th, Hamlin welcomed social entrepreneur and co-founder of HandUp, Sammie Rayner. Ms. Rayner’s visit showed our students a real life example of how a few people can create a huge change in our world. Her time at Hamlin will no doubt serve as inspiration for when our girls delve into their “Rising to the Challenge” project later this spring (see link below for more information about RTC).
What HandUp does:
“Our charitable giving platform provides donors with a new, simple and direct way to impact the lives of their homeless neighbors and other low-income locals. HandUp connects these populations to case workers at some of the most well-respected social service organizations in the nation for further assistance. With resources and words of support, our community of donors also strengthen safety nets that our members can call upon in times of need” (HandUp website).
HandUp is a dynamic organization that is based in San Francisco, but is gradually expanding across the United States and now is also in cities like Detroit, Michigan and Corvallis, Oregon. HandUp has been mentioned in numerous media outlets including: The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Forbes, and BBC.
Ms. Rayner began her talk by speaking about her roots for cultivating compassion for others, sharing a story about taking care of her Grandfather who had Alzheimer’s. After graduating from college, Sammie became interested in micro finance and worked in Ghana for six years helping to alleviate poverty and empower people through small business loans.
Ms. Rayner then asked our students to share their own personal feelings and experiences related to homelessness. As the conversation unfolded, she emphasized the need to humanize those without shelter and not ignore the over 6,500 people in San Francisco who are experiencing homelessness on any given night in our city. She further stated that the number one reason why people in San Francisco are homeless is that they can’t afford their rent payments.
She went on to talk about how HandUp gives both donors and recipients hope in terms of alleviating the homelessness crisis in San Francisco. Donors have an opportunity to give funds to a person who has been vetted by a credible social services organization, and recipients are able to become more visible by using HandUp’s online platform to raise money for goals like housing or food. Ms. Rayner shared a story about a man named Marvin who was a Lowell High School (San Francisco) graduate but fell on hard times. Through HandUp, former classmates were able to support Marvin, help get him into housing, thus enabling him to have a foundation to secure employment.
A Hamlin student shared this about Ms. Rayner’s presentation:
“The most important part of the HandUp presentation was hearing about personal stories of homeless people, because I, like most people, had previously viewed them with a distorted lens.”
Watch this video clip where Sammie Rayner explains the importance of seeing homeless people as human.
For more information about HandUp, please visit:
To learn more about Hamlin’s “Rising to the Challenge,” project, please visit:
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