For many, many years, the Hamlin School has worked to support homeless families in San Francisco through a profound partnership with the Hamilton Family Center. 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.
The Hamilton Family Center was established in 1985 as an emergency overnight homeless shelter for families. At that time the shelter was located in the Haight-Ashbury district and was open nightly from 8pm to 8am.
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 Family Center (FHC) 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 Family Center Website).
Hamlin’s connection to Hamilton dates back to the late 1990’s 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 throughout the school year that support and create partnerships 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 recently efforts have been focused on a book drive, a Read With Me initiative, gingerbread house donations, and Harvest for the Homeless where students, faculty, and parents prepare a meal that feeds close to one hundred people.
Since 2010, Hamlin student leaders and their parents have donated more than 15,000 high quality books to Hamilton and other non-profits in San Francisco. These books are very much sought after by Hamilton families and their children.
Along with the book drive, Hamlin promotes literacy through our Read With Me program at the Hamilton Family Center. Twice a year 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.
During the holiday season Hamlin donates Gingerbread house kits to kids at Hamilton. In December of 2015 we donated 92 kits complete with icing and all of the festive candy to make the edible abodes beautiful.
Our largest event connected to Hamilton is our annual Harvest for the Homeless. This year was our 6th annual Harvest event and was well attended. 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 always a representative from the 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.
Years ago Ms. Holland-Greene had this to say about Harvest,
“I have been the head of Hamlin for 19 months, and Harvest for the Homeless ranks in my top 3 proudest moments. My heart felt as if it would burst with joy and pride-Hamlin families, new and returning, worked together for a common cause.”
Our partnership with the Hamilton Family Center 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.
Special Thanks to the following people for their recent and past support of our partnership with Hamilton: Jane von Bothmer, Jennifer VanderMarck, Mary Graf, Molly Wadwhani, Marisa Felt-Bellingrath, Susan Bolle, Ann Iannuccillo, Melissa Abbe, Celeste Bobroff, Susan Leupold, Jeff Kositsky, Debbie Wilber, Nicolle Gameiro, and Wanda Holland Greene.
A Hamlin student shares her thoughts on Harvest:
Please watch this heartfelt video made by two Hamlin Students that encapsulates our relationship with Hamilton:
For more information on the Hamilton Family Center, please visit: