Culture & Criticism From the Far Distant Realms
Homelessness wears many faces. Teenagers and 20-somethings fighting drug addiction. Middle-aged people in the throes of alcoholism. And families comprised of young parents with children unable to buy food, pay for transportation and meet the rent, too. The problem is actually epidemic: One out of every 25 children in the San Francisco Unified School District are homeless. It’s not something that’s talked about in the open very much, as the shame and stigma that go along with raising your kids on the street keep parents in the shadows.
But the San Francisco Giants, in a partnership with Hamilton Familes and Airbnb, are putting their money where their mouths are – collecting donations to combat the problem while shining a desperately-needed light on a problem that should not be a part of the American landscape. Specifically, in conjunction with the “Heading Home Campaign,” the Giants will partner with Airbnb, and the duo will donate $1,000 for every run the teams scores at home games this year, for a total donation of $300,000. This $300,000 pledge will be paid even if the Giants don’t meet their runs-scored target number. As of June 5, the tally stands at $70,000.
The Heading Home Campaign joins the City and County of San Francisco, the San Francisco Unified School District, Hamilton Families, and various philanthropic leaders – forces that have united to take homeless families off the streets. Presently, a staggering 1,800 students enrolled in San Francisco public schools have no homes; that equates to over 1,100 families who exist day-to-day without permanent housing.
“It’s not something we always see, but families live on the street too,” says Shana Daum, Vice President of Community Affairs and Public Relations for the Giants.
The key to this program most certainly is Hamilton Families. Founded in 1985 as the Hamilton Family Center, it served as the first homeless shelter in the city dedicated to families. Over the span of the past two decades, Hamilton has grown in leaps and bounds, now helping homeless families in both San Francisco and Oakland. However, as devoted as Hamilton is to eradicating family-homelessness, it can’t do this alone.
Enter the Giants. As one of the oldest and most honored baseball franchises in existence, the team has always realized that its role transcends the stadium. Thus, since the team moved to San Francisco 60 years ago, the Giants have endeavored to affect the community in which they play by leading movements meant to confront the problems of our society – from domestic violence to prostate cancer, the Giants have been there: fostering awareness, collecting dollars, opening eyes. But there’s no way they do this alone either. The problem is just too big. These tentacles extend too far in every direction.
Most of us have a lot, much more than we need. And that house we enter every afternoon is often taken completely for granted as we move about blithely with blinders on. The real-time truth is – none of us want to imagine going to sleep under a bridge or in a door-way; nonetheless, over a thousand parents with kids face this reality daily in San Francisco. And at least that many more teeter on the edge, one financial crisis away from the same nightmare.
While none of them should be playing this position, they’ll never save themselves without a boost. That’s where baseball comes into the story again: If you’re at AT&T Park any time this season and you see the Giants flash to information about The Heading Home Campaign, actually turn on for a few seconds and absorb the message. Moreover, if you know or ever knew anyone who opened a bedroll on a sidewalk, consider texting “HOME” to 91-999 (or go to hamiltonfamilies.org) and pledge a donation.
There’s no other way this is ever going to stop.