ELIZA HAMILTON’S ORPHANAGE

Encore: July 02, 2020

We explore the legacy Hamilton’s wife, Eliza, left behind for children in need that continues to this very day.  We talk to Jess Dannhauser, the President and CEO of Graham Windham.

Aired on October 5, 2017, December 26, 2018, August 16, 2019 and February 3, 2020. 

TRANSCRIPT

ONE OF THE MOST POIGNANT MOMENTS COMES WHEN HAMILTON'S WIDOW SINGS THAT HER PROUDEST ACCOMPLISHMENT WAS STARTING THE FIRST PRIVATE ORPHANAGE IN NEW YORK CITY IN HONOR OF HER HUSBAND.

HER PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT LIVES ON AS THE ORPHANAGE SHE CO FOUNDED HAS CHANGED INTO A FAMILY FACILITY.

PROVIDING THEM WITH EDUCATIONAL HEALTH, COUNSELING AND OTHER SERVICES.

JOINING ME TO TALK ABOUT HOW HER CHARITY IS HELPING KIDS GET THEIR SHOT IS JESS WINDHOUSER.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

HOW EXACTLY DID ELIZA HAMILTON FOUND THIS ORPHANAGE?

AND HOW DID IT INVOLVE INTO THE INSTITUTION THAT IT IS TODAY?

SO 211 YEARS AGO.

THAT'S A LONG TIME.

NOTHING -- THE CITY DIDN'T LOOK LIKE IT DOES TODAY.

ELIZA HAMILTON AND TWO OTHER WOMEN STARTED THE ORPHAN ASYLUM SOCIETY OUT OF A REAL CONVICTION THAT CHILDREN WHO HAD BEEN PUT IN DANGER OR DIDN'T HAVE SAFETY AROUND THEM, NEEDED TO BE CARED FOR, AND THEY HAD EXTRAORDINARY VALUE.

HOW WERE THESE KIDS TAKEN CARE OF BEFORE THIS, IN NEW YORK CITY.

I THINK A LOT OF KIDS BACK THEN DIDN'T HAVE WHAT THEY NEEDED.

A LOT OF KIDS DID GROW UP IN THE STREETS OR BOUNCING FROM TENEMENT TO TENEMENT.

THEY STARTED THE FIRST PRIVATE ORPHANAGE IN NEW YORK CITY.

AND THAT BEGAN TO GROW.

AND AS YOU COME TO ONE OF OUR SITES, AS YOU CAN SEE 100 YORES AGO, THE ABSOLUTE CARE THEY PUT INTO THESE FACILITIES.

THE BEAUTIFULLY MADE FACILITIES THAT STILL STAND TODAY.

THEY NEVER GREW THE ORGANIZATION TO HAVE A HUGE ENDOWMENT OR BE AN ORGANIZATION THAT WAS A SOCIETY ORGANIZATION, THEY PUT EVERY DOLLAR THEY HAD INTO OUR KIDS.

AND THEY EVEN SAID IN ONE OF THE ARCHIVES, THAT NO MATTER THERE WAS A DIME IN THE TREASURY OR NOT, THEY WOULD NEVER TURN A CHILD AWAY.

THAT CONVICTION, THAT WE'RE HERE TO SERVE THE KIDS THAT NEED US MOST ANIMATES US TODAY.

YOU ESTABLISHED A REAL CLOSE CONNECTION TO THE BROADWAY HIT MUSICAL HAMILTON.

HOW DID THAT RELATIONSHIP BEGIN?

SERENDIPITY.

WE WERE JUST STARTING OUT IN OUR SOCIAL MEDIA TRYING TO GET THE WORD OUT ABOUT WHAT WE DO, AND HOW EXTRAORDINARY OUR KIDS AND FAMILIES ARE.

LUCKILY ENOUGH, WE CAME ACROSS LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA.

HE QUIETLY GAVE A GIFT.

HE LEFT HIS NUMBER AS ONE MIGHT DO AS THEY'RE LEAVING A DONATION ONLINING FOR A ORGANIZATION WE COLLECT.

WE CALLED HIM TO THANK HIM, AND THE PLAY WASN'T OUT YET, THE MUSICAL WASN'T OUT YET, WAIT UNTIL YOU SEE THE END, YOU'RE GOING TO BE BLOW AWAY.

WE DID, AND WE GOT TO SEE IT AT THE PUBLIC AND I MET HIM AFTER.

SHE WAS THE ORIGINAL ELIZA IN.

THAT'S RIGHT.

THE HAMILTON FAMILY HAS EMBRACED.

WHAT'S BEEN THE OVERALL IMPACT ON YOUR INSTITUTION?

IT'S RAISED HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS.

IT'S HAD OPPORTUNITY DIRECTLY FOR SOME OF OUR KIDS, THEY BROUGHT OUR KIDS IN TO DO WORKSHOPS, EVERYTHING FROM DANCE TO DOING PERFORMANCES, THEY REALLY DEEPLY BECOME PART OF THE COMMUNITY AND WE COULDN'T BE MORE GRATEFUL.

GIVE US SOME CONCRETE EXAMPLES OF YOUR FAMILIAR PROGRAMS.

PARENTS WHO HAVE TOUGH STARTS THEMSELVES, WHO NEED OUR HELP TO SUPPORT THEM TO MAKE SURE THAT THEY CAN RAISE THEIR CHILDREN SAFELY AND WELL, WE DO A LOT OF IN HOME FAMILY THERAPIES, WHERE WE MEET WITH FAMILIES WHO ARE STRUGGLING, TO HELP THEM PUT THINGS BACK TOGETHER AND GET THEMSELVES ON A PATH.

WE WORK WITH YOUNG PEOPLE AFTER SCHOOL IN OUR COMMUNITY CENTERS, WE DO FOSTER CARE, WHERE WE HAVE CHILDREN WHOSE PARENTS CAN'T CURRENTLY TAKE CARE OF THEM.

WE WORK EXTREMELY HARD.

WE'RE ONE OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL AGENCIES IN THE CITY IN GETTING CHILDREN HOME SAFELY.

OUR JOB IS TO MAKE SURE EVERY SINGLE ONE OF OUR CHILDREN HAS A LOVING FAMILY.

AND THEN WHAT WE DO, WE WRAP A COMMUNITY AROUND THEM SO THE DAY THEY GO HOME, ISN'T THE LAST DAY THEY'RE PART OF THE COMMUNITY.

WHAT WE'RE ABLE TO DO IS COACH KIDS UNTIL THEY'RE 25.

THE SYSTEM STOPS AT 21.

WE KNOW THOSE YEARS.

WHEN THEY CAN'T FIND -- THE TEACHER LEFT SOMETHING OFF THE SILL BUS, AND THEY FEEL EVERYONE HAS RESOURCES AT THE SCHOOL THAT THEY DON'T.

WE ARE THERE TO CONVINCE THEM TO STICK IT OUT.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

BY THE WAY, PEOPLE CAN VOLUNTEER TO WORK.

WE WELCOME -- WE HAVE MANY, MANY NEW YORKERS WHO ARE SUPPORTING US AND INSTITUTIONS, WE LOVE ANYONE ELSE WHO CAN JOIN US.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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