Special/Signature Issues » 2012 Top 40 Under 40

Camille Hansen, 33

Program Director, Richmond Friends of the Homeless

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Camille Hansen recalls the little boy who used to wander into Jackson Ward's Greater Mount Moriah Church during school hours. She asked him gently why he wasn't in his fourth-grade class.

"I can't wake up," he told her. "It's not that I don't want to go." Hansen discovered that his mother didn't get him up.

Hansen gave him an alarm clock. That was all it took, she says: "He ended up going from never going to school to getting honor roll."

Making a difference begins with noticing others' struggles. Hansen's mother, Shawnee Hansen, founded Richmond Friends of the Homeless in 1986 after she saw two men and a small boy fishing a leftover turkey carcass from a trash bin. The nonprofit now runs two daily hot-lunch programs that serve hundreds of people.

After receiving her degree in social work, Camille Hansen became the program director in Jackson Ward and Gilpin Court 11 years ago. She provides not only food but also toys, school supplies, mentoring and a listening ear. "All I can do is what I see that needs to be done," she says.

When Hansen learned about the poverty and suffering of orphans in the war-ravaged Democratic Republic of the Congo, she heard a calling to adopt. Earlier this year she brought home a 2-year-old, Lucy Christivie Hansen. "She comes to work with me every day," Hansen says.

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