GGC Professor Anne Williams Knits More Than 100 Hats for Homeless

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

For GCC business professor, Anne Williams, a stitch in time saves nine... well, more like 130.  Dr. Williams carries on a family tradition during the holiday season of hand-knitting hats for the homeless in New Haven. It’s a much-needed effort. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), in 2018 there were close to 4,000 homeless people living in the state.

“I made about 130 [hats] this year, and I make them in different sizes, some small for children,” Williams said. “I give to St. Brendan on Fountain Street and the Community Soup Kitchen by Broadway, where they serve multiple meals multiple times a week, in many different locations.” Williams chose the locations because of the work of her cousins, Martha Sullivan and Margaret Foley, who knitted well into their 70s and 80s.

“Those are both locations that my cousins used to knit for, for community service,” she said, noting that the women knitted thousands of hats over the years. Though Williams’ two cousins passed this year, Williams is keeping the tradition going.

“I spent as much time as possible with Margaret during her last days,” Williams said. “I started knitting with her. It gave her something to talk about and me something to do.” Knitting not only honors the memory of her family, it provides a warm cap to someone who really needs it — and Williams is honored when she sees the hats put to good use.

Williams began teaching at GCC in1990.  In addition to her full course load, she can often be found in the Veterans' Oasis at Gateway Community College, helping war vets plan their academic careers, or bolstering students’ social media savvy by helping them set up professional LinkedIn accounts. At home, she's in front of the television brushing up on Spanish while knitting beautiful, colorful winter hats for the homeless.

“I see them [the hats]. If you walk around the New Haven green or at the community soup kitchens or around town, you recognize the hats.” Most of Williams’ hats are solid colors with a bit of flair; because children's hats don’t take up much yarn, some have more intricate patterns and stripes.

“If I am on a roll, each hat takes only two hours,” she said. “My cousins say there is only one kind of yarn, so I search around and buy that one yarn when it is on sale.”

Williams notes that she is happy to knit for anyone who’s interested. “If there was a need for Gateway students for the hats, I would give to them too,” Williams said.

Dr. Anne Williams' knitted hats are warming more than heads, she's warming hearts and keeping a treasured family tradition alive.


Photo cutline: Anne Williams and 130 knitted hats that have been distributed throughout New Haven.