The Board of Directors, Staff, and Community of Hamilton Family Center are grateful for the following community partners who support our work towards eliminating poverty and homelessness for families in San Francisco during the past year.
It’s a Magical Place
Anyone who has ever entered Fairy Land in Oakland knows that it’s a magical fantasy world where young children can create, imagine, play, and learn. Grab a Magic Key to see what it unlocks. Ride on the train. Slide down Jack and Jill Hill.
Fairy Land also values being available to everyone in the community, regardless of ability to pay. Thus, they receive funding to subsidize field trips for community groups such as Hamilton Family Center. Thanks to their generosity, we recently hosted our First Avenues back to school picnic there. Families received free entry, and the kids each got a Magic Key. The following week, our Residences and Emergency Center brought a group of kids to explore the park.
We’re so grateful not only that such a special place exists in our urban environment, but also that we have access to it. We can’t wait to go back!
Baking with Bakers
It started the way so many good things do: baking chocolate chip cookies from scratch. Lucien Mae from Arizmendi Bakery on Valencia came to our Transitional Housing Program to show kids how to make homemade cookies. Needless to say, it was a huge success, and everyone decided it would be fun to do it again. Since then, Lucien has volunteered his time to help the kids make homemade pizza, burritos, apricot pie, tie-dye cupcakes, strawberries & cream pie, and more, all from scratch! Each visit attracts not only the kids, but parents curious about what their kids are making (and eager to try a bite or two).
While Lucien is able to bring some ingredients, our friends at the Rainbow Grocery Cooperative provided a micro-grant allowing us to purchase quality, organic ingredients from their store. That has allowed us to expand our baking repertoire and expose the kids to a wider variety of foods.
We love partnerships like this which both teach practical life skills, but also connect the kids to caring adults who are passionate about what they do. In the words of the inspiring Nelson Mandela, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”
Safe in the Cloud
Until recently, Hamilton Family Center, like many organizations, backed up all our data to server tapes every night, swapping the tapes daily. Mildly cumbersome and not ideal in the case of a disaster, this system met our needs but wasn’t especially effective. Then came EVault. EVault, A Seagate Company, delivers cloud-connected backup and recovery in the form of a cloud service, on-premise software, on-premise appliances, or any combination thereof. With their support, our data is both safer and more accessible in the case of a disaster. We’re so grateful for their expertise and generosity.
Beyond the in-kind donation of services, the folks at EVault want to build a long term relationship and have chosen Hamilton Family Center as their first nonprofit partner. We are exploring different ways their staff can volunteer on site and connect even more directly with the work that we do. We look forward to hosting them this spring, knowing that their energy and enthusiasm will inspire us as much as their services keep our data safe.
Vision for Justice
The University of San Francisco has a vision to create a more humane and just world. A key way they achieve that is through service learning. Service-learning involves three essential elements: service experience, classroom experience, and intentional reflection. It is an opportunity for students to apply what they have learned in class and to learn from the service experience itself.
Hamilton has been partnering with USF for several years. Andrea Wise, Coordinator of Community-Based learning at USF, says “Hamilton Family Center is a great example of what we hope for a community partner of USF. The organization models the concept of reciprocity, by providing a deep learning experience to our students and giving students the opportunity to do meaningful work for the organization.”
The benefits for Hamilton and our clients are outstanding as well. USF student learners have supported children’s program, helped obtain Halloween costumes, organized multiple spaces, researched critical resources, and countless other projects. They bring joy and energy to our programs. If in doubt, just ask the kids. They’ll tell you how much they love these guys!
Perhaps the most touching perspective comes from the students themselves. Tori Bourakova completed her service learning experience at Hamilton’s Transitional Housing Program this summer. At the beginning of the semester, she wrote, “This is a population that is mostly ignored and neglected, and I admit, by myself. I want to erase my previous stereotypes, but I have numerous fears and anxieties.” Tori learned a lot throughout the semester as she loved on the children. At the end of the summer, she reflected, “Through this journey, I have not only seen the children grow, but I have also seen growth within myself. It feels good to remember how I first walked in – so unsure and nervous – to how I walked out at the end of my journey, like I belonged.”
We are thankful for Tori and her fellow students for their openness to learn and serve alongside us here at Hamilton. Our society needs more people like them who hold on to this spirit of social justice and the belief that we can all make a difference.
One final thought from Tori: “These are kids, and if I can at least have them walk home with a smile on their face, then I can walk home with a smile on mine.” That sounds like a pretty good goal to us as well!
It Takes a Village
Back to school can be a stressful time for children experiencing homelessness. In addition to the usual worries about making new friends and tougher subjects in school, they are often dealing with returning to school without the benefit of new clothes, supplies, or fond summer memories that other children take for granted. Not so the children at Hamilton Family Center. Thanks to our many community partners, children will return to the classroom confident and proud.
Our friends at Bloomingdales continue to outdo themselves. This year, they committed to providing 200 backpacks filled with supplies. A week later, they said they’d commit to 300! Every single child receiving services from Hamilton received a backpack provided by an employee or vendor of Bloomingdales. We’re just overwhelmed with gratitude!
In addition, Blue Shield and Accenture both provided additional backpacks filled with supplies. These much needed extras will be distributed to children throughout the year as their families move into our Emergency Shelter.
But that’s not all. The amazing folks at My New Red Shoes provided 178 pairs of brand new shoes, along with a $50 gift card to Old Navy. Children were able to go shopping for new clothes, and don’t need to wear hand-me-downs for the first day of school.
The celebrations continue. Four amazing hair stylists also provided free haircuts for 27 children so that they can walk into the classroom looking
fabulous. And our dear friend Robin Hultgren, professional photographer extraordinaire, took photos of 15 families.
Yes, it truly takes a village to raise a child. We thank our community for surrounding us with support and generous gifts during this busy and exciting time of year. In the words of Dr Seuss, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
That’s the word that best describes the folks from Zynga who came once again to volunteer with our Children’s Program. It was our second annual Field Day in the
Panhandle, and this year, all three of Hamilton’s residential programs participated. Twenty kids made their way through an obstacle course, did the football toss, challenged each other in soccer, and even raced in a 30-yard dash! Personal trainer Shianne Lombard brought special equipment to give some of the activities the legit feel of a good workout! After completing the obstacle course, one girl told Shianne, “I want to do track!”
After all the activity, we cooled off with a balloon toss and a delicious lunch provided by Zynga. Then the kids had the opportunity to tie-dye t-shirts, fly a kite, play with a parachute, and hang out with their new friends. It was a great time and we’re grateful for partners who help build traditions and fun experiences for the children living in our programs.
Give ‘em a hand!
HandsOn Bay Area (HOBA) is a local nonprofit which strives not just to connect individuals with community service opportunities, but also to assure that everyone who volunteers through them has a high-quality experience that inspires further action. Working in the bay area for over 22 years, HOBA has been making these connections and supporting civic engagement, resulting in a tremendous impact in our community.
HOBA and Hamilton first partnered almost ten years ago. Today, HOBA sends small groups of individual volunteers to our Emergency Center on a weekly basis to help with tutoring and game night. They’ve also recently led ESL classes at our Transitional Housing Program.
In addition to weekly volunteers, HOBA also coordinates corporate service opportunities – helping companies to serve in their communities. In the past month, 19 employees from Charles Schwab radically improved several communal areas in our Transitional Housing program, and 18 folks from Google undertook similar projects at the Dudley Apartments. In both cases, the volunteers arrived eager to clean, paint, scrub, sanitize and organize. In just three hours, they cheerfully transformed our spaces, communicating care and respect for the families who live there.
We’re so grateful for the support of HOBA and the volunteers they send to us. This is truly a mutually beneficial relationship. According to Donald Cooper of HOBA, “The HOBA volunteers who attend our regular projects with Hamilton may be sparing fewer than two hours from their busy schedules on a weekday evening, but they come away feeling that they have made a difference, and are inspired to come back and volunteer again.”
A surprising and sweet donation
In December of 2011, we received an email from Rich Bertrand, Event Guru at Three Twins Ice Cream, saying that they would like to donate some ice cream. “I know it may seem strange to eat ice cream during cold weather, but to us it’s comfort food,” he wrote. A quick, informal survey of staff and clients alike revealed that everyone was in favor of eating ice cream year-round!
Since that first email, Rich has dropped off literally freezers full of ice cream about six times to two of our residential programs. It’s been the highlight of two holiday parties, a community event, and a mother’s day celebration. We’ve been able to try out several of their amazing flavors, and have yet to find something we don’t love! It truly is inconceivably delicious!
Rich heard about Hamilton through a friend who volunteers, and chose to donate to us because what we do is “immediately impactful and much needed.” We’re so grateful for their generosity and think they’re the sweetest partner we have!
For a complete list of In-Kind donors and sponsors, please visit our recognition page, here.