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As more community groups start improving their neighborhoods, many feel they lack the resources to do the job. Our guest on NENfm, Dr Gerald Eisman from the Institute of Civic and Community Engagement at San Francisco State University (and a speaker at the Craigslist Foundation Boot Camp on August 14th), explains how the academic community could make a massive impact.

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Show Information

Guest: Dr Gerald Eisman, Director at the Institute for Civic and Community Engagement
Geographical Area: San Francisco Bay Area
Related Event: Craigslist Foundation Boot Camp
Related Organizations: Craigslist Foundation, Institute for Civic and Community Engagement, San Francisco State University
Host: Adam Greenfield
Additional Credits: Moontan (music)

 

Jody Fu, Junior Class President, Lick Wilmerding High School

[This is Part 2 of a NEN Blog series about how an SF high school helped deliver emergency kits to the vulnerable. Read Part 1 here.]

Right after the Haiti earthquake in mid January, the students, faculty, and parents at Lick Wilmerding High School became involved in helping Haiti. During classes and assemblies, we had frequently discussed the event and what to do. Eventually, we had placed such great emphasis on the cause that we had become among the top donating high schools in America. But it also struck me something could have been done to mitigate the destruction in Haiti: Preparedness.

A little over a century ago, one of the largest ranking earthquakes of all time hit San Francisco. This is where we live and this earthquake’s “anniversary” has been projected to hit soon. We are all just waiting for it. It deeply concerned me whether any earthquake preparedness was being done in San Francisco, especially for the elderly and those who can not assist themselves on a regular basis.

Every year at Lick, the class president and representative are in charge of organizing at least one community service event for their grade. During a meeting with Junior Class Representatives Jeff Kaminsky and Briana San Diago, we brainstormed ideas that could have a lasting impact on earthquake preparedness in San Francisco. Earthquake disaster kits were our solution.

Students (from left to right) Risa Egerter, Kayla Abe, and Jody.

But coming up with the idea was only the first step. How much would it cost? What materials would we need? In what homes would we place them? Despite all these questions, I immediately sent an email out to The Volunteer Center of San Francisco wondering if these kits were possible or would even be beneficial.

The email I received back was from Alessa Adamo from San Francisco Community Agencies Responding to Disaster (SF CARD) [read Alessa's NEN blog about how she met Jody here]. Not only did she seem just as excited as I was, but these disaster kits were actually an idea in progress. But that idea couldn’t really move forward because of a lack of manpower and funding. Our match actually seemed perfect. Through their work with the city’s disaster feeding group, SF CARD already had a method of transportation of the kits and a list of people to whom they would be sent. The junior class would fundraise and pack the kits.

Time was essentially our only issue. This was a project for this year’s Junior Class but at first it seemed that this project would take a year or at least into the next school year to complete. But the SF Food Bank agreed to sponsor the food kits. We then set up the actual packing day to be May 8th and from then on, everything went smoothly. Alessa worked with people at the Food Bank to decide the materials that would be placed in the kits and worked out the rest of the logistics. At Lick, Briana, Jeff, and I organized fundraisers. We got our class involved in baking for a school wide bake-sale, making over $500. We then had multiple Jamba Juice Sales there after. Our total fundraising amount, a little over $1400, would be sent to the Food Bank for the packaging and water supplies of the kits.

Three months ago, I sent out that tentative email wondering if earthquake kits were possible for the Lick Juniors. Today, we actually packed them. I couldn’t believe how much Alessa and the Food Bank had gotten together for us. 14 Lick Juniors, Briana San Diego, Jeff Kaminsky, Risa Egerter, Carlos Velasco, Kayla Abe, Joey Wong, Darren Yee, Dare Bodington, Hannah Wong, Waylin Yu, Maggie Harty, Vannessa Altamirano, Joaquin Magnana, and I walked into a room in the Food Bank warehouse, and there were boxes and boxes of canned peaches, water, almonds, granola bars, raisins, crackers, whistles…etc, which would all go into the disaster kits.

Students pack the kits. That's a lot of kits!

It also amazed me how today was also the day I finally got to meet Alessa. As she had been through the entire process through emails and calls, she was equally inspirational while reminding the students from my class what their purpose for being at the Food Bank today was. The 500 disaster kits we packed today would be pilot disaster kits, and if it shows to be successful, thousands of kits may be distributed to needy individuals in the city. I think what excited my classmates the most was that we, Lick Wilmerding students, were a part of initiating this earthquake disaster program that could save thousands of lives.

Excited to start packing, my classmates and I got to work. We organized ourselves in an assembly line, packing 500 kits, in about 2 hours. Nearly every one of my classmates who was there today told me something along the lines of how great it was to volunteer for something that was actually lasting and how much fun they had packing the kits today. I cannot agree more with my classmates.

Lastly, I want to thank Alessa and the Food Bank one last time because we could not have moved forward without their help.

Jody Fu is Junior Class President at Lick Wilmerding High School.

As a proud native San Franciscan, I always take the time to ask folks who have visited our great City what was their favorite part of their visit.  Of course some mention seeing the Golden Gate Bridge and riding a Cable Car, but consistently they say that our amazing collection of unique neighborhoods was what they’ll always remember.

For many of us in the community space, we’re not surprised by this answer.  It’s not hard to see why someone visiting the city wouldn’t marvel at how they can go from being in a classic Italian neighborhood one minute and suddenly be surrounded by authentic Chinese markets the next.

These great neighborhoods don’t just happen, they take years of work and dedication by residents who invest their valuable time to make these communities a success.  It’s that effort that many of us call The Work. The Work is a vast collection of skills which involves everything from coalition building to expertise as to how City Hall operates.

While San Francisco is blessed with dozens of successful neighborhoods, there is an equal number that struggle everyday to meet the quality of life goals that they have for their residents.

The Neighborhood Empowerment Network (NEN) is dedicated to helping these emerging communities achieve their goals. By developing a suite of tools, resources, and strategic partnerships for neighborhood stakeholders to leverage as they create safe, clean, healthy communities to live and work, the NEN hopes re-invent how we as a City collectively build and support sustainable communities.

Please visit the About Us page and learn more about our initiative and what we’re developing to help our partners achieve their goals.

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