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It Takes One

Feeding people and making a difference

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When Kim Hamilton took on the management at Rancho Feliz Mobile Home Park in Rohnert Park, there were no activities for the park's children. Three years later, with the support of the park's owners Millennium Housing, and Haven Management Services, the children who live at the park have a learning center, complete with a library. They also have an after-school homework club with up to seven tutors provided daily by Sonoma State's JUMP Program, and computers donated by the Active 20-30 Club of the North Bay, a community garden and a soccer field.

Teachers know that they can call Kim and chat with her about the special attention a student may need in a certain subject, such as fractions, grammar, history or spelling. According to Kim, "A lot of the children at the park were struggling in school, and I was concerned they'd be overlooked." Kim recently attended the commencements of 16 of her homework-club participants, including two from high school.

Perhaps most importantly, Kim and her husband, Al, partnered with the Redwood Empire Food Bank (REFB) to ensure that no child at their site went hungry. They started an after-school-snack program. When students get off the school bus at the clubhouse, they eat a healthy snack before they start their studies. Now that school is out for the summer, children continue to receive at least one healthy meal a day because Rancho Feliz is participating in the REFB's free summer lunch program. The Hamiltons, alongside senior volunteer Clara Taylor, have become surrogate grandparents to the park's roughly 60 children. Kim also mentors a second local mobile-home park that is setting up a similar program, because as Kim puts it, "it only takes one person to make a difference, and what an amazing world it would be if everyone decided to be that one."

For information on where to find one of the REFB's 48 free summer lunch sites for children 18 and under, call 707.523.7900 or dial 211. The program runs through Aug. 10.

Miriam Hodgman is the communications coordinator for the Redwood Empire Food Bank in Santa Rosa.

Open Mic is a weekly feature in the Bohemian. We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write openmic@bohemian.com.

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