Hamersma, June

In addition to her significant contribution to the intellectual life of Grand Rapids, June Hamersma volunteered thousands of hours for Hospice and Michigan hospital guilds that raise money to support the hospital.

Biographical Highlights

June Hamersma grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, during the Depression. She earned a degree in history and philosophy from Calvin College in 1951. After a career in public relations, she raised two children, during which time she became very active in hospital guild work, starting at Butterworth Hospital. She also volunteered with Hospice of Michigan and initiated their foundation in 1994. Hamersma founded the January Series at Calvin College and served as director for twenty years.

Historic Roots

June Hamersma was born and raised in Grand Rapids. She grew up in a family of four children, struggling to survive during the Depression. June’s mother worked outside the home. June attended both Christian and public schools in Grand Rapids, and she and her family were faithful members of the Christian Reformed church. At age 12, June became Grand Rapids' speed skating champion. She graduated from Calvin College with a degree in history and philosophy in 1951 and began a career in public relations. In 1957, she married her husband, John, and went on to raise two children. John became a professor of music at Calvin. June Hamersma was the creator and director of the January Series at Calvin, a lecture series that attracted some of the world’s greatest thinkers in a wide variety of subjects. For several years, the series was named "Best Campus Lecture Series in the USA" by the International Platform Association. She retired in 2007 after twenty years of directing the series.

Importance

Hamersma is distinguished for her contribution to the intellectual life of her community in the form of the January Series at Calvin College. She was also heavily involved in hospital guilds at Butterworth Hospital and statewide, and she is the founder of the Hospice of Michigan Foundation.

Ties to the Philanthropic Sector

After her daughter was born at Butterworth Hospital in the early 1960s, June began volunteering with the Susan Lowe Guild. A guild raises money to support the hospital. She eventually became president and started two new guilds during her term as executive. She next became involved in the state organization, Michigan Association of Hospital Auxiliaries. She served as vice president of education for two terms, where she planned the statewide education programs on healthcare. Hamersma helped put together lecture series on pediatric oncology for the Helen DeVos Distinguished Lecture Series. In 1994, June founded the Hospice of Michigan Foundation that has raised over fifty million dollars toward patient care services. She has also volunteered more than two thousand hours of her time with Hospice.

Key Related Ideas

A child of the Depression and deeply involved in her Christian Reformed faith, Hamersma developed a commitment to tithing and giving back to her community. Her major contributions of time and effort have been with hospital guilds and Hospice of Michigan.

Important People Related to the Topic

  • Susan Lowe: Susan is the daughter of Delos A. Blodgett, for whom Blodgett Hospital was named. Susan married Edward Lowe, grandson of Richard Butterworth, who gave the land for Butterworth hospital.

Related Nonprofit Organizations

  • Hospice of Michigan provides comprehensive care to people with acute chronic illness and support to their loved ones. http://www.hom.org/
  • The Susan Lowe Guild: Formed in 1946, the Susan Lowe Guild is a group of volunteers who serve the maternity floors of Butterworth Hospital. In 1953, the Guild began the Baby Photo project, which serves as a fundraiser returning more than $2,500 each month to the hospital. Since 1970, the guild has purchased more than $350,000 in equipment for the hospital and maternity areas.

Related Web Sites

Bibliography and Internet Sources

Wikipedia "The January Series" Accessed July 21, 2009. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_January_Series

Clipping file and oral history in the SOUL of Philanthropy collection in the Grand Rapids History and Special Collections of the Grand Rapids Public Library