Serving the Tenderloin and Beyond
PAE's San Francisco office works to aid the transitioning community
While relatively new to the Tenderloin neighborhood, PAE has already taken strides to make a positive impact in this transitioning community. According to KQED News, the Tenderloin has been regarded as one of the seedier areas of the city since the mid-20th century; this was around the time when the city shut down the quasi-legal gambling businesses that drew visitors--and income--to the neighborhood. In the 1970s, the Tenderloin became a haven for people who couldn't find a home elsewhere; low-income housing was abundant in the neighborhood as the old gambling hotels were refurbished into single-room occupancy residential hotels (SROs). The Tenderloin is defined by these SROs today, and they offer people who are trying to get off the streets, from recovering addicts to domestic abuse survivors, second chances
Members of PAE's internal Community Service Team in San Francisco have developed relationships with several organizations in the Tenderloin, including The Healing WELL and Project Open Hand. Several employees from PAE spent their time at these organizations during the internal Day of Service on June 18th, and also serve throughout the year. From public park cleanups to serving food for the hungry, PAE employees are all over the city doing their part to help those in need.
What do you think PAE's role is or should be in the Tenderloin community?
Sarah Dawson, Project Coordinator: San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood is a unique place with a rich history and is home to some of the city's most vulnerable populations. We have spent a lot of time this year trying to understand the community's needs and building partnerships with other people and organizations in the Tenderloin. I think it is important to build a foundation of strong relationships in the community so we can be a good neighbor.
Taylor Berrian, Mechanical: I believe PAE should be a role model in the Tenderloin community that leads by example. We have a unique opportunity to have an impact within an area that needs thought leaders and corporate collaborations.
Kyle Stangland, Mechanical: I think the Tenderloin community longs for consistency. So often, myself included, volunteers can become burned out on consistently volunteering for multiple reasons. The members of this community are longing for dignity and respect as human beings, something that they don't receive because of the stereotype of the Tenderloin.
What have been some of your biggest takeaways while volunteering with PAE in San Francisco?
Sarah Dawson: I participated at Project Open Hand on the Day of Service. It's an incredible organization that has been operating in the Tenderloin since the 1980s. It started with one retired woman who cooked meals for her critically ill neighbors during the AIDs crisis and now provides 2,500 nutritious meals and 200 bags of groceries every day to critically ill and senior Bay Area residents. It was great to step out of the office and chat with my colleagues while trimming brussels sprouts that would feed someone the next day!
Patrick Doherty, Mechanical: While at The Healing WELL on the Day of Service, each of us were given a one-on-one tour of the Tenderloin with a community member. My tour guide, Brandon, told me about his past struggles with homelessness and addiction. Brandon was a sociable and funny guy. I was really moved as he explained how the community at The Healing WELL was there to support him at a very low point in his life. It was inspiring to hear his story of hope and revival.
Cony Mendoza, Technology: Being a part of The Healing WELL's activities has been a very rewarding experience. It has since changed my perspective of this community, and I enjoy being part of a community who aspires for better. Having the opportunity to feel part of the community and being able to communicate with others regardless of where we all come from is inspiring.
What are some of your favorite or most memorable things you've done as a volunteer?
Kyle Stangland: Some highlights include learning about invasive weeds in the Golden Gate Park and spending time uprooting them alongside PAE teammates. It was rewarding to manually and tangibly serve the park that I love.
Cony Mendoza: I have had the opportunity to attend meetings with other technology companies moving into the area, such as Twitter, Microsoft, and Spotify. I continue to learn about the community and the many services there are available to help them.
Sarah Dawson: Twitter invited us to their headquarters a few blocks from our office for a film screening and panel discussion of "Tender Souls" a few months ago. We all enjoyed that experience so much that we are planning to host our own screening and discussion this fall at PAE!
How can PAE help the Tenderloin neighborhood?
Taylor Berrian: The one area that stands above the rest, in terms of needing the most help, are those individuals that are homeless, mentally ill, or addicted to drugs. The street conditions within the Tenderloin are some of the worst you can find in America. Unfortunately, in a city of tech, power, and influence, help is not making it to the people that need it greatly. I think a continual partnership with The Healing WELL can go a long way.
Patrick Doherty: I think one step is understanding the needs of the community by interacting with it through programs like The Healing WELL. I think it's great that the company is already getting involved with the community through the Tenderloin Community Benefit District. PAE should continue this partnership.
PAE's 4-point strategy for making an impact in San Francisco:
- Provide quality educational experiences to neighborhood youth, focusing on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) learning opportunities.
- Further the development of the Tenderloin and Central Market Area as a healthy and sustainable neighborhood for all.
- Support the local economy.
- Develop and maintain longstanding relationships with neighborhood stakeholders.