In 2008, the couple founded the Hamels Foundation, with its “education is the answer” mission statement, to help break the cycle of poverty both in our inner cities and in Malawi, Africa. The Hamels recently cut the ribbon on a new state-of-the-art playground and greenhouse at Bayard Taylor Elementary School in Philadelphia, and they’re in the process of building a multimillion-dollar school in Malawi. “Donors can choose where they want their money to go,” says Hamels, who lives with her husband and two boys in Newtown Square. “Either it stays here, or it goes to Africa. Cole and I fund the whole back-end of the foundation, so every penny goes directly to helping a child in need through one of the programs we’re supporting.”
After her stint on Survivor, Hamels suffered kidney failure. That led to her dedication to aiding those with no support systems. “I was lucky to have family and friends who helped me through that very tough time in my life,” she says. “Someone gave that hope to me, and I’m now going to give that hope back as much as I can.”
Her mission has taken her to some of the poorest cities in the country. She’s also been to Africa more than 10 times in the past five years. “I can’t imagine not doing the work we’re doing,” Hamels says.