SAN ANTONIO — In the early days of San Antonio Threads, a nonprofit organization which works to provide clothes to at-risk teens, CEO Cathy Hamilton was striving to make a philanthropic vision into reality.
But Hamilton's work goes back further, to her days as a volunteer for Child Advocates San Antonio (CASA).
"I was a court-appointed special advocate for five years," she said. "If you want to know about foster care, and how to make a difference, it is life-changing."
So what did Cathy see while volunteering with CASA that inspired her to create SA Threads?
"Most every case I had, had sibling groups of two, three and four. Every case that I worked, kids did not have clothes to go to their next placement, or when it was time for them to change schools," she said. "Many times, as you know, usually when kids enter foster care, the only clothes they have are the ones they are wearing. I would go home and say, 'Gosh, why is it so hard for them to get new clothes?'
"They had some makeshift closets at placements, but they were very thrift-like clothing. It always bothered me, like lots of things bother someone. I would go home and say to myself, 'Someone should do something about that,' not thinking that someone was me."
Any and all child welfare social workers/volunteers who spend their own hard-earned money to purchase foster children needed items are to be applauded, but Hamilton dared to dream bigger. Six years later, she's leading a vital local operation.
"It is pretty incredible," she said. "Last year San Antonio Threads served 10,000 kids."
Hamilton's vision has simply been visionary as she works to inspire others to do more.
"You just have to do something, whether that is volunteering with CASA or Threads. Whether you do a sock drive or a shoe drive or even make a donation. It makes a difference when you're not worried about how you look," she said. "You'll perform better at school, and at your job with your peers. All those things."