We at Community Action Agency of Somerville are saddened to note the passing of our friend and colleague Jack Hamilton, who retired in 2008 after almost three decades as CAAS’ Executive Director. Under his leadership CAAS grew to offer services ranging from early childhood education and parenting support, to help for tenants, access to health care, and advocacy for the disabled, serving thousands of Somerville residents throughout the years and reinforcing a culture of diversity that remains strong today.
Jack grew up poor in Jamaica Plain and always wanted to do his part to change the world. When he retired he said, “I grew up with a sense of anger, thinking it's not supposed to be this way, it doesn't have to be this way…I hope CAAS continues to be very prominent in protecting human rights, I hope they are very much in the forefront fighting poverty, and I hope they continue working for justice.
“If we are really to eliminate poverty – a real national scandal – we will need some fundamental changes in our country. We must first raise and index the minimum wage; we must have universal health care and a radical change in our tax laws. And finally, we must use government policies and resources to create really meaningful and well-paying jobs for all who want to work. Without these fundamental changes, those in anti-poverty work can help individual families out of poverty only to see them replaced by more.”
Our community has made real progress on many of these issues, and the fight that Jack committed himself to -- the fight to empower Somerville's residents most in need with the opportunities they deserve -- is relevant now more than ever. The community of CAAS will honor Jack’s memory by continuing his work with renewed commitment and vigor. Jack, we will continue the struggle.
There will be a wake for Jack this Saturday, 3-6pm, at the Brown-Flaherty Funeral Home in Union Square. http://www.brownflaherty.com/. In a final act of generosity, Jack asked that in lieu of flowers donations be made to CAAS.