Neighborhood Heroes: Angela & Stephon
At our last Tenderloin Talk Live event, we had the opportunity to share our vision for improving quality of lives in the Tenderloin over the next two years. Invest Tenderloin is about deepening, rather than broadening, our work in the neighborhood to improve the quality of ALL lives. It’s about people and as such, a critical component of Invest Tenderloin is sharing the personal stories of lives affected by programs.
During our event, we heard from two such speakers. Angela, our Safe Passage program coordinator, and Stephon, A DST graduate and full time employee of our TLCBD Clean Team. Their stories illustrate how financial resource influences a program, which in turn influences lives. There’s stories inspire their friends, families, peers, and us, which is why they are our heroes for the month of January 2018.
Stephon, Clean Team
Stephon had been living in and out of a car, in shelters, and on the streets when he joined the Tenderloin Downtown Streets Team (DST) last year. In the month of July, things began to change for him. DST case managers secured him housing. Stephon interviewed and was subsequently hired for a full time position as a BBB Tenderloin team member.
Everyday, Stephon continues to approach his job with the same positivity and drive which garnered him praise at the onset. Whter he was cleaning the Turk Hyde Mini Park during our activation, or removing feces from the sidewalk. Stephon is smiling greeting those that he encounters throughout his day. At Tenderloin Talk Live Stephon shared his story with Tenderloin guests. He shared his gratitude to God, the power of responsibility, the pride of becoming financially independent and how he continues to share his story on a regular basis with those he encounters during his work. We witnessed the power of this ripple effect ourselves in conversation with one of our homeless neighbors, who happened to know Stephon, as well as another TLCBD Clean Team member who graduated from DST, from when they were all in the shelter together. For some experiencing homelessness, hearing Stephon’s story, and bearing witness to his success can be inspiring. It’s that peer-to-peer sharing that makes the DST program, and the people who fuel it, so powerful.
Stephon has been recognized as DST’s team member of the year for 2017. Since our partnership in May, five DST employees have gotten full time employment, three others have have found permanent housing. Others have reached a variety of personal goals.
We are incredibly grateful for the work Stephon does to keep our sidewalks clean, for his positivity, and for his generous spirit in sharing his story.
Thank you, Stephon. You are a hero!
Angela, Safe Passage
In 2008, Safe Passage was started and run by an all-volunteer brigade of neighborhood moms. In August 2016, the program came under the umbrella of the TLCBD and has since seen significant increases in programing and opportunity. Today, the program serves hundreds of youth and seniors, with a workforce of Tenderloin residents; approximately 20 of these residents receive a volunteer stipend while 6 have moved from stipend to paid part time positions as TLCBD staff.
Angela joined Safe Passage as a volunteer in 2015. Having grown up in the neighborhood, she was looking for something to help her grow as an individual while supporting herself and her son as a single mother, but to work directly on improving her community.
In August of 2016, through investment under the TLCBD umbrella, we were able to hire Angela to become the program coordinator.
Angela had recently expressed a desire to face her fear of public speaking, insisting it was something she dreaded but wanted to do for herself.
During Tenderloin Talk Live, Angela spoke with poise, confidence, and grace. She shared how the program has helped her to grow as a person. She’s become a true leader, managing 20 volunteers on a daily basis while providing language access. “This is my way of giving back, by making the community safer” she said. “Safe Passage has given me the opportunity to live on my own with my son and to be an independent woman.”
Angela not only inspires her son, friends and family, she inspires the other Corner Captains, a living example of the economic and personal opportunity possible through the program while having a direct impact on the neighborhood every day.
Thank you Angela. You are a hero.
Who will be our next Tenderloin hero? Will it be a resident, a business or property owner, perhaps an artist who’s beautifying their sliver of the Tenderloin. You decide. Send submissions to the Fernando@tlcbd.org. No act of heroism is too small.