35 Years of Hope: Sandy and Brian Kraimer

Sandy and Brian Kraimer met while attending college in Wisconsin, got married and moved to Chicago for work. Sandy thought the move would be temporary. That was almost 30 years ago.

Sandy and Brian Kraimer

The Kraimers remained in Chicagoland where Sandy, president of the board of Harmony Hope & Healing, works to make it a better place for all. Ten years ago, Sandy joined the St. Anne’s Catholic Church Sharing Board, but still wanted to do more. Sharing board president Marianne Lutz mentioned that an annual Christmas party hosted by St. Anne’s at St. Martin de Porres House of Hope had discontinued. That’s when the Kraimer family re-established a Christmas tradition that continues to this day.

“It didn’t seem at the time like there was a physical connection between us and our sharing partners,” Sandy recalls. “My husband and I felt like we had no exposure to the lives of people like the residents of St. Martin de Porres House of Hope. We wanted to explore that and show our kids that there are people out there who are a lot less fortunate than us who could use some uplifting.”

Since 2008, Sandy, her husband, and members of the St. Anne’s community have hosted a Christmas party on the first Saturday in December. The party begins with Harmony, Hope & Healing singers leading the group in Christmas carols. Next is crafting, with the women and kids each making a Christmas ornament.  Children or grandchildren then ‘shop’ for the residents among gift donations from members of St. Anne’s that the ladies will open on Christmas morning.  After crafts and shopping, everyone enjoys pizza, sweets, and games. Because many happy memories are made at this event, Sandy says “Brian usually takes pictures and we print them out on the spot. In the last couple of years, we started bringing picture frames so the ladies had a keepsake.”

Sandy is a frequent visitor to St. Martin de Porres House of Hope. In addition to the annual Christmas party, Sandy and the St. Anne’s Sharing Board host a Back to School Ice Cream Social in the fall and create Easter baskets and bags with treats for the residents in the spring.

“I have a special place in my heart for St. Martin de Porres House of Hope,” Sandy says. “It’s such an interesting community. I’ve seen the same women over time and gotten to know the ladies. You can see them blossoming. It makes it personal when you can see the people that you are helping.”