At sixteen years old, Miss Raven Hamilton dreamed of attending the University of Florida to study Fashion Design. She fancied becoming the Coco Chanel of the South. Fashion was Raven’s true passion nurtured by playing dress-up with her big sister. Her favorite subject in school was Creative Writing and her work undeniably showcased her creative talent and extraordinary character.
To her friends, Raven was the mother hen. Always tending to their needs, guiding them toward good decisions and protecting them during the difficult situations all too familiar in the halls of high school. Raven’s kindness extended far outside of her circle of friends, often taking shoes, clothes and jewelry to other students who needed them – even taking off her brand-new jacket and giving it to a fellow student who confided in Raven that her family couldn’t afford one. Raven was a very intuitive young girl with a unique way of making others feel understood, special and very loved.
At home, Raven was her family’s own precious resource of laughter, entertainment and comfort. If she wasn’t singing, dancing and goofing-off around the house (often turning her bathroom cleaning chore into a Broadway production), she was helping in her dad’s office or massaging her mom’s aching feet after her long work day. Raven never ran out of love to give or time to spend doting on those she cherished most. All these moments are now Raven’s family and friends’ most beloved memories.
Amidst the giggles and excitement on the morning of December 6, 2014, no one could have foreseen the tragedy that would befall the Hamilton family that day. Raven spent most of the morning planning her mother’s birthday and then carefully selecting her own outfit for her friend’s birthday party later that evening. The time finally came and with a honk from the driveway, Raven gave a kiss and hug goodbye and bounded excitedly out of the house and into a car full of equally ecstatic young girls.
The girls had one more friend to pick-up on their way to the party. As they impatiently waited outside her home, a teenage boy approached their car and began shooting. Roughly eleven shots were fired directly into the girls’ car.
A severely wounded and unresponsive Raven was taken to a local hospital. Despite the ER staff’s best efforts, however, Raven did not survive. A precious life lost to a cowardice and senseless act of violence and a family whose lives forever changed.
A few days following Raven’s funeral, a candlelight vigil was held at her high school where her friends and fellow classmates took a vow for peace: “I promise to act and not react and handle all situations in a non-violent way.”
At its core, this vow is everything Raven believed and represents the life she lived. Her parents embraced this vow, envisioning their daughter’s spirit in its powerful pledge, and established Raven’s Promise in her honor.
Raven’s Promise is a scholarship program for high school students who act as the solution to violence of any kind. At the end of each school year, students are nominated by their teachers and peers and ultimately, the scholarship is awarded to the student who has faced difficult circumstances throughout the school year and chose to exhibit compassion and integrity, and championed harmony among their peers.
The past several years, Raven’s parents, Rodney and Latistia Hamilton, and her sister, have been trudging up a winding road toward peace. The strength they have found through their faith and in each other encourages them to speak out and fight against youth violence of any kind. For them, it’s as simple as paying it forward. If only one tragedy can be avoided because of their efforts, they will be one step closer to finding purpose in their pain.
The grief they have suffered has shown them it is simply not enough to make hollow promises about change, nor is it fitting to engage in nonsensical disputes about bullying, violence and gun control. For the Hamilton’s, the time is now to take positive and healthy action and teach our youth that violence is not an acceptable way to resolve conflict. It is their deepest hope that others will join them in their fight against youth violence by supporting Raven’s Promise.
Raven’s Promise honors a beautiful young girl who believed in the good of all people; a young girl who spoke up for others when they couldn’t find their voice, who sought peace in every opportunity and paved the way for younger generations to be the solution.
Raven’s Promise is dedicated to encouraging and guiding today’s youth toward compassion, integrity and harmony. If you would like to support Raven’s Promise Scholarship Fund, and/or if you would like more information please visit:
The Hamilton’s can be reached via instant messenger on the Scholarship Facebook page or you can email them directly: email@example.com