KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Teresa Hamilton continues to raise the bar by meeting the needs of people in the Kansas City area.
The fearless mother of 12 and grandmother of 16 founded the nonprofit Giving the Basics that not only cares for her community but also now reaches to six other states.
She’s a fixer with a sincere and genuine heart to make change, and when there’s a will, there’s a way for Hamilton to make it happen.
“I can do so much more when I’m working with the good toward the good,” Hamilton said.
In 2011, she started Giving the Basics in Kansas City, Kansas, and its doing just what its name says — giving the basics.
“Imagine people that don’t have a job, they’ve got some kind of a sickness, they’ve got relationship issues, and they can’t get clean,” Hamilton said. “To me this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I thought this is so easy to fix, let’s fix this.”
The organization provides simple hygiene products and personal goods — toilet paper, deodorant, toothpaste, washing detergent — the stuff many of us take for granted.
“People think you can just walk into a grocery store with a government card and get whatever you want, so they just think everyone is taken care of,” Hamilton said. “So that’s what I’m trying to change. That’s a misconception.”
The organization runs a warehouse working nonstop with help solely from volunteers who distribute thousands of boxes and pallets of goods.
Hamilton said it all started as a good gesture to help a friend who was down.
“She said, ‘Hey, can you help me get some toilet paper?’ I said, ‘What the heck?’ She said, ‘Well I’ve gone through a divorce. We lost everything,'” Hamilton recalled.
Soon after, the need became heavy on her heart, leaving her no choice but to get to work.
“There’s just a paralyzing feeling there are others, there are more,” she said.
She calls herself the “sophisticated beggar,” but don’t get it twisted. She holds no shame. It’s well worth it if it means receiving donations each month from major manufacturers and businesses — because someone is depending on it.
“I just want to be good for the people that can’t help themselves,” Hamilton said.
She and her team have created a detailed system that provides toiletries to students in Kansas City-area schools and police departments. There’s even a program that allows seniors to give back.
“I don’t want Giving the Basics to have anything to prove,” she said. “I want our work to prove who we are. I don’t want sell Giving the Basics to anyone. I just want people to know we’re changing lives. Immediately when someone gets our product, our lives are changed.”
No accolades, no praise, just a woman who saw an need and created a movement.
“I don’t need to meet the people that we’re helping,” Hamilton said. “I just know … that in my heart they’re feeling relief, right? Just let me help you, you’re stuck and not to your own fault. I just want to help you not be stuck, and I don’t need a thank you.”
Hamilton said her dream is to one day turn over Giving the Basics to U.S. veterans. She said it will help the community, fill jobs and offer hope.