James has spent over 70 hours volunteering with the Friends of the Children–Seattle chapter following graduation. We're deeply inspired by his story.
James Hamilton, now 20 years old, joined the Friends of the Children program in Seattle, Wash., at age 5. A shy child with great potential, James was paired with Upendo Jefferson. Upendo helped James become more extroverted and open. “I did view Upendo as a family member,” said James when asked to reflect on his relationship with his mentor. Upendo helped connect James with resources and opportunities and encouraged James to work hard and graduate from high school. “They gave me lots of opportunities and lots of connections. I don’t think I would have or been connected to situations in life or internship opportunities. They are there for you, whatever resources you need,” said James. Upendo was James’ Friend for ten years, before retiring and passing away shortly after.
Friends of the Children commit for the long-term and connected James with a new mentor – Marcel Hauser. Marcel supported James through his final years of high school and is still a resource for him as he is enrolled in college. Since graduating from high school, James has volunteered over 70 hours with the Friends–Seattle chapter. He is also entering his third year of college, studying human development at Washington State University. He hopes that someday he will have a job similar to what a Friend does – help people reach their full potential.