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Being Home in Hamilton

The people who work in primary care love the communities they serve. It’s a love proudly on display in our department every day and one that recently helped raise over $6900 for The Good Shepherd’s Family Centre shelter in Hamilton.

This past fall, Jill Berridge, co-executive director of the McMaster Family Health Team, saw four of her colleagues in the clinic break room at the David Braley Health Science Centre all wearing shirts with the same Hamilton-loving slogan across the front: Hamilton is Home.

A string of jokes about these shirts becoming the official uniform of the clinic led Berridge to email Max Francis, founder of True Hamiltonian, whose shirts the group were wearing. Berridge asked if there might be an opportunity to work together and help raise money for a local organization. Francis was enthusiastic about the idea and offered to print a run of True Hamiltonian apparel with the MFHT logo.

Each December, the McMaster Family Practice, Maternity Centre of Hamilton and McMaster Downtown Ambulatory Care Center, hold a charity drive, usually a food drive. Organized by Dan Edwards, the system navigator at McMaster Family Practice, these drives are a way for the clinics to support the community further, while enjoying a bit of friendly competition over which teams can raise the most donations.

From left to right: Grace Baldwin, Lisa Klinger, Dan Edwards and Max Francis at the Good Shepherd Family Centre in Hamilton
From left to right: Grace Baldwin, Lisa Klinger, Dan Edwards and Max Francis at the Good Shepherd Family Centre in Hamilton

“The Family Centre at The Good Shepherd is the only family shelter in Hamilton,” says Edwards, “It’s where I worked before joining MFP and so I’ve seen how critical this resource is for our community.” The centre has a housing-first focus, where staff help families experiencing homelessness create a housing plan with a 30-day goal.

For six weeks in December and January, participants received raffle tickets for their food and cash donations. This year, with many people working from home, far more cash donations came in than previous years. Initial goals of $2500 and then $5000 were met and passed as True Hamiltonian hats, shirts, and masks were raffled-off at the end of each week.

The $6900 raised will help provide computers to the outreach and homelessness prevention programs. “We increasingly rely on technology to attend school, apply for jobs, search for housing, and complete many other daily tasks,” says Lisa Klinger, director of the Family Centre. “Unfortunately ready access to technology is not something always available to families experiencing homelessness. This donation will allow us to expand access to computers for shelter residents and make it easier for them to achieve their goals.”

By the end of the raffles, Edwards and Berridge were amazed, but not surprised at the generosity of everyone at the clinics. That feeling is sure to continue as clothing sales at the department continue in support of the Family Centre.

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True Hamiltonian

McMaster University Department of Family MedicineMichael G. DeGroote School of Medicine