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Hamilton House Endowment Fund
By Jean Cohoon / March 20, 2015 /   Loading Disqus...
The class list reads like a college catalog – Spanish, painting, computer, literature – but rather than a college or university campus, these classes are offered at Hamilton House, an “adult learning exchange” on Providence’s East Side. Complementing the more academic offerings are topics as diverse as yoga, bridge, and film courses.

“The program is what Hamilton House is all about, the program and friendships,” says Executive Director Jessica Haley, who continues, “We see new friendships, then we see those friendships grow, and the next thing you know members are going to the theater or out to lunch together.”

Built in 1896, the French chateau style Hamilton House was the private home of Florence Champlin Hamilton and her husband, Ralph, a wedding gift to the couple from Florence’s father, George Champlin. Upon Mrs. Hamilton’s death, the House was left to the adjacent Central Congregational Church, which continues to own it today. The elegant House has been operating as an independent, nonprofit learning center for older adults since 1972 and currently has about 300 members.

“The program is open and approachable to all; we are just lucky what we offer happens in this wonderful space,” Jessica points out, adding, “The exchange of learning, especially between our members, some devoting a lifetime of study to a particular subject, others with a skilled trade, and all who share life experiences coupled with the many young people who teach here, is so beautiful. It’s all about the synergy and welcoming shared environment,”

This endowment is the brainchild of an anonymous donor who is passionate about Hamilton House and who offered to put up half the funds if Hamilton House would contribute the other half. A fellow member then further challenged the organization to raise the funds rather than withdrawing them from the bank. “By challenging us, the donor and fellow member stimulated us to grow and to plan for the future. The donor’s intent was for the funds to be invested through the Rhode Island Foundation. The donor loves the Foundation and felt we would get the best return on our investment,” Jessica explains.
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