Here is a glimpse into the life of an amazing woman; Annick Hamon, Penny Lane and Abbey Road Board Member.
Her life started in France during World War II in a medium sized city on the Loire river near the Atlantic ocean. Nantes was a port specializing in the construction of ships including war ships, the canning of sardines and the confection of very special butter cookies: the “Petit LU”. Nantes was repeatedly bombed and partly destroyed during the war. “I don’t remember the sirens or the rushed escapes to the city’s tunnels and shelters” in Nantes because I was too young says Annick.
Annick’s father was in the cavalry and was captured by the Germans near Dunkirk. He was able to escape from the hospital where he had been transferred pending his departure for a prisoners’ camp in Germany. He snuck out of the hospital with her mother‘s help, disguised as a woman with clothes she had brought. They calmly walked out of the hospital together. As a result, the family went into hiding in a farm south of Nantes until France was liberated. She lived in oblivion of the war although she does have vivid memories of bombed-out buildings in Nantes missing their entire facades with interiors of rooms still furnished and all exposed. Al Nantes is now a beautiful town totally rebuilt, with the navy yards transformed into a tourist attraction.
Her father was a cobbler, her mother a housewife. Both were uneducated but her father who had left school to work at 12 was self-educated and an avid reader. He served as the scribe in the neighborhood because of his impeccable writing skills. Annick was the oldest girl in the family and the first kid in the neighborhood to pursue a higher education. She studied Philosophy and was a staunch feminist and was labeled a leftist.
Her goal at that time was to become a political journalist and travel the world but before she was able to start her graduate studies at the Sorbonne, she fell in love with a very young American soldier. He was a teenager, a black musician who had lied about his age to join the army and see the world. The attraction was fused with a very strong desire to see the world. They married and she quickly became a mother of Marine born in France and Pascaline in Chicago. Around 1965 she moved to the States. Her introduction to American life, as a white woman married to a young black man was enhanced and facilitated by the fascinating people she met at the University of Chicago where she worked. Many students and faculty members were actively involved in the civil rights movement including her husband. She was deterred from joining marches for fear of deportation, as a green card holder subject to deportation. These were vibrant, exiting times and despite the difficulties she personally experienced, she doesn’t regret having had this experience. Chicago was a great place to share and discuss ideals of justice and equity.
Five years after arriving in Chicago, her marriage collapsed, and she moved to California. In the early seventies, the US economy was terrible. She quickly realized that her philosophy degree was of no use whatsoever in finding a job. Having no job and no resources she was forced to apply for food stamps and welfare. This valuable life experience helped her understand how quickly one can become homeless, although she was never homeless due to the support of friends. In 1972, she moved to Los Angeles in search of a better job and to be near her sister. Again, she found that jobs were scarce and her job skills not very developed. However, she was hired under a program created by President Carter’s administration through the Department of Labor; the Comprehensive Employment and Training program known as CETA. From program recipient, she quickly became program administrator assigned to work with non-profit, charitable organizations offering jobs to unemployed drug counselors, housing and family services providers, musicians, actors etc. This job allowed her to become familiar with public service providers throughout the entire City. It also gave her the opportunity to meet Barker Khorasanee a co-worker and now a lifelong friend who later became a matchmaker introducing her to her now husband, Harreld Adams. Harreld and Annick have been married 31 years. They have together 4 grown children and 5 grandchildren. When the CETA program ended several years later, She moved to the Community Development Department of the City of Los Angeles and became involved with housing programs. Later, she became the Affordable Housing Director, and, in this capacity, she met Ivelise Markovits (Founder of Penny Lane Centers)
Ivelise and her staff were trying to figure out what to do about the deteriorated neighborhood around the Penny Lane headquarters and the danger posed by gangs living across the street from the Penny Lane residential facility on Rayen street. Annick, together with her staff, encouraged Penny Lane to purchase the buildings affected by the gangs and the drug traffickers. After she retired, she was invited to join the Board. Annick was glad to participate in the rehabilitation of the buildings around Penny Lane and witness their transformation to become homes for the Penny Lane clients aging out of foster care and group homes. Penny Lane was a pioneer in recognizing the need to continue caring for disadvantaged children after they were no longer under the foster care support. She is very grateful that her participation as a Board member of Penny Lane and Abbey Road has enabled her to fulfill her passion for public service.
On a personal level, she is happy that she enjoys a very fulfilling life, thankful for the friends she met and kept along the way and for the wonderful jobs she was able to have. She learned to overcome adversity and enjoyed sharing her resourcefulness with people less fortunate.
Annick said “Many people influenced my life; there were those who challenged me to follow my dreams and those who offered support and guidance. The most practical piece of advice that I received was from my best friend: Don’t whine and complain, she would repeat, if life gives you lemons, make lemonade!”
I developed a great fondness for lemonade, a good source of vitamins, although later I preferred a glass of wine. However, if I had to single out one person that had the most impact in my life, it would be my father. During my formative years, he gave me self-confidence and encouraged me to believe in myself. He thought people were inherently good, but some unlucky ones did not receive the tools they needed to deal effectively with life’s difficulties. He convinced me that I was one of the lucky ones, I had a healthy body and good mind, and this was all I needed. He instilled in me a complete sense of responsibility of every move I made in life and every action I took. He also insisted that because I was lucky, I had a duty to share my gifts with those less fortunate. He was an optimist, encouraging me to see the glass half full rather than half empty and to consider life as always full of opportunities rather than difficulties. I remained optimistic.
The best piece of advice I have received is to live life to the fullest every day and the following quote from Dr. Hunter S. Thompson summarizes best my life philosophy:
Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming WOW! What A RIDE!!