"I can think of no better way to make a difference ..."
Annemarie Hamilton has warm, wonderful memories of her childhood. “I had the most wonderful Mom and Dad; they were always loving and supportive, and I was very proud of them. Mom was editorial director of a publishing house, and Dad was a civil engineer.
“I’m not sure how Mom first got involved, but I do remember her being so upset when we would see young people on the street, asking for food and money,” said Annemarie. “That just felt so wrong to her, and to my Dad. They believed with all their hearts that every child should have the support they need to grow and dream and thrive. And so Mom and Dad decided to start helping Covenant House.”
Helen and William have sadly passed away, but their decades of support left a legacy of love that touched the lives of countless homeless young people who found their way to Covenant House.
And now that legacy of love continues through their daughter.
“Of course I knew about Covenant House since I was a young child through my parents support,” she said. “But it really struck me when I came in to New York through the Port Authority Bus Terminal and saw young kids who were obviously on their own, suffering, hungry. I decided to get more involved and do what I could to help.”
Annemarie dove into our work, joining us for our Broadway Sleep Out, where participants sleep on the street to raise awareness and support for Covenant House youth overcoming homelessness. “That experience was an eye-opener,” says Annemarie. “We know that one night on the street is nothing compared to what the kids go through. But the Sleep Out is a great way to show the young people at Covenant House that we stand with them, and that they are special, and valuable, and loved.
“I was prepared for the cold, and the hard ground, but what really struck me was the constant noise,” Annemarie said of the Sleep Out experience. “There is no way to get any sleep; so all night it gives you the chance to think about young people who deal with this every night, how brave and resilient these kids are who overcome so much and come to Covenant House.
“And the thing is … these young people come up with their own solutions to the problems they face,” says Annemarie. “All we need to do is provide the education, the support, and the love that all kids need. That is what I love about Covenant House. We say to these young people that we care, that you are valued. So many of these kids have never heard that before.”
Annemarie also donates her time as a member of our Mother/Child program board. “The young moms at Covenant House are inspiring, they work so hard to give their babies a better life, and I’m so privileged they allow me to be even a small piece of their lives,” says Annemarie. “We organize birthday parties, and holiday celebrations, and help raise funds to provide for all the necessities young moms need for themselves and their babies.
“We also help our moms and other Covenant House residents with practical things like resume writing, and practice for job interviews. Covenant House will always be here for them, but we also strive help our kids to be independent. And so many young people leave Covenant House with the tools they need to live happy, independent lives, which gives me great joy.”
Annemarie so believes in the mission of Covenant House and the promise of our kids that she has made the decision to include Covenant House in her will. “When that time comes, I can think of no better way to make a difference than to help young people in the future who need Covenant House,” she says.
Since the 1960’s young people with no place else to turn have found their way to Covenant House. And every step along the way, the Hamilton family has been with us, helping us to welcome the brave, resilient, smart, hard-working young people who find their way to our doors.