Our Dedicated Staff
Helen hudson, 1920-2013 - OUR INSPIRATION
Helen Sobol was born in 1920 to parents who became living examples of the American dream. Entering through the turnstiles of Ellis Island at the beginning of the 20th century, Ira and Ida Sobol began their journey in the New York City ghetto. As Jewish immigrants, they eventually found employment in the burgeoning car business. Scrimping and saving, they were able to purchase a small gas station. Years later, they had parlayed that initial investment into a successful chain of garages called Sobol Brothers.
Helen, the eldest of three children, grew up during this rags to riches transformation. Somewhere during childhood, she became acutely aware of her privileged status, insulated from a world full of poverty, violence, and bigotry. This inequity embarrassed and infuriated her, sparking a lifelong passion for activism and social justice.
She carried this torch through her college years, graduating from Bryn Mawr College in 1941, and eventually earning a PhD in American History from Columbia University. She married Robert Lane in 1944 and had two boys, Larry and Thomas.
The family eventually relocated to New Haven, CT, where Robert went on to become an Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Yale University.
As her children gained independence, Helen began writing. Her first book, Tell the Time to None, was followed by many others, including Farnsbee South, A Temporary Residence, and Criminal Trespass. Some of her shorter works were printed in Redbook, Colliers, The Virginia Quarterly, The Antioch Review, among others. In 1976, she won the coveted O. Henry Award for best short story. Read reviews of her work here.
Helen passed away in January 2013. Despite poor health, she remained active and committed to her deep seated causes - writing, advocating, and marching for a more compassionate world.
Thomas lane - Founder and president
Son of Helen Hudson, Thomas became involved in civil rights and social justice causes at a young age, working for a settlement house in NY and The American Friends Service Committee in Indianapolis while still in his teens. Later, while pursuing a career in the arts, he became a champion of his mother's book, Dinner at Six. Devising the distribution and marketing plan, he launched the campaign in 2002. Since that time, he has continued to act as "messenger" for Hudson's inspirational work, ensuring it stays true to its purpose of helping the homeless. In 2013, he founded the Helen Hudson Foundation and became its first President. Learn more about our organization here.
Residing in Providence, Rhode Island, Thomas continues his creative endeavors as a writer, musician, and painter. His books include The Artists' Manifesto, The Karma Factor, and a collection of poems entitled Where Miracles are Born and Squandered. He has just finished an album of his songs, recorded under the name "Trakker."
Shannan hudgins - minster for special projects - rhode island state council of churches
Shannan Hudgins is Minister for Special Projects for the Rhode Island State Council of Churches. Ms. Hudgins graduated with a Master in Divinity from Andover Newton Theological School in May and earned a certificate in Social Justice, a certificate in Ethics, and was awarded the Harold Gezork Prize in Ethics. Before joining the RISCC, she worked in public service in New Hampshire. The RISCC is working with the Helen Hudson Foundation to address the issues of homelessness in Rhode Island. The Foundation is named after the accomplished writer Helen Hudson, whose volunteer work in a soup kitchen inspired her book, Dinner at Six. The RISCC advocates for social justice issues in Rhode Island, and Shannan is bringing her 20 years of volunteer work in New Hampshire to address hunger and homelessness to the Helen Hudson Foundation. In this position she coordinates the distribution of Dinner at Six and StoryPower, seeking audiences eager and willing to be inspired to advocacy for solutions to homelessness by the power of story. She is pursuing ordination in the United Church of Christ.