Before coming to Hanna, Walter Linares was living in a small townhouse in San Francisco with 16 people, from three different families. His father died when he was seven, leaving his mother to support Walter and his three siblings. “My mom was working 16 hour shifts to provide for us and while she was at work I was babysitting my siblings and shouldering a lot of responsibility from a very young age.”
Without supervision and left to themselves, Walter and his siblings were “running a bit wild” by their teens when a well-meaning neighbor told his mom about Hanna and encouraged her to look at it as an option. “We set up a visit to tour the campus, and I knew right away that this was the place for me.”
Along with his older brother, Walter arrived at Hanna in 1997. Up until that point he had lacked structure in his life. But at Hanna he thrived off the predictability of having a schedule - of knowing what was expected of him - and of being recognized by the teachers and staff for good behavior and academic achievements.
The structure that Hanna brought to Walter’s life was necessary – but what was a real and true gift was the ability to take part in extracurricular activities and to play sports for the first time in his life. He LOVED baseball but his mom couldn’t’ afford to sign him up, and he was never able to play. When Walter got to Hanna he made up for lost time and played every sport he could. He went out for soccer, baseball, basketball and even played on the Sonoma high school football team. He was also able to do things he had never done before and to experience the joy of skiing, fishing and camping.
"Now that he's out in the world, a husband and father himself, he's poised to make an immeasurable impact."
Walter stayed at Hanna until he graduated in 2002. He went to the Santa Rosa Junior College for his A.A., transferred over to Sacramento State to study Public Relations and Journalism, and continued to study sports management at the University of San Francisco. After graduating, he landed his dream job with the Sacramento Kings NBA team.
All of us at Hanna know that Walter was a great kid with a big heart – and now that he’s out in the world, a husband and father himself, he’s poised to make an immeasurable impact. In July, Walter put his nomination forward to run for City Council in Rohnert Park. “There’s powerful movements happening in the world, and I want to be able to make a difference, and to bring a multi-cultural lens to City Council.” Walter is driven by a need to create change in his community – and as we watch his campaign unfold, we can’t help being very proud of his accomplishments. Walter is currently also serving on the Hanna Board of Regents. He is one of our Hanna miracles!