‘One Hard Thing’ Program Lends a Hand to Seniors in Need


My name is Winston Parsons, Community Engagement Specialist at the Richmond Senior Center. Thank you for sharing space in the Richmond ReView and Sunset Beacon to highlight some nonprofit/community-serving programs.

Our center organized a volunteer event with local firefighters, police, Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer and other community members in October, helping older adults and adults with disabilities with small but hard tasks at their homes.

One Hard Thing photo 2019

Volunteers – neighbors, nonprofit leaders, public servants and elected officials – gather at the Richmond Senior Center before serving seniors and adults with disabilities in The Richmond District. Photo by Dallis Willard.

Here is the story:

“On a sunny Saturday in October more than 42 community members gathered at the Richmond Senior Center (at Geary Boulevard and 26th Avenue) to volunteer their time to help more than 20 seniors and adults with disabilities living in The Richmond District. 

Among the volunteers were SF Police Department officers Gordon Lee and Konstantin Ivanov of Richmond Station, Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, firefighters Asturias, Higgins, Gutierrez and Coleman from Station #14 on 26th Avenue, leaders from the Richmond District YMCA and several students from University of San Francisco’s Urban and Public Affairs program. 

After a welcome from Winston Parsons, the Center’s community engagement specialist and Supervisor Fewer, the volunteers were sent out into the community with a mission to serve and forge new relationships with neighbors.

Officers Lee and Ivanov assisted Margaret, 69, by pruning an over-grown fruit tree, sweep her backyard as well as put covers on and flip her mattresses. 

The firefighters, along with Richmond District pedestrian safety representative, Jay, did a home safety walk-through for Josephine, 75, and boarded up open spaces under her deck to prevent entry of skunks and raccoons. 

Supervisor Sandra Fewer and aide Angelina Yu assisted Linda, who is blind. Sandra read old letters to Linda and helped her organize them while Angelina de-cluttered a closet and removed some old electronics that were taken to a Department of Public Works e-waste station.  

One Hard Thing photo 2

Firefighters from SFFD Station 14 and Jay, Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee representative, perform a home safety inspection for Josephine. They boarded up spaces under her house that raccoons and skunks were nesting in. Photo by Jay Bain.

Maker and youth educator Jeff Hawkins of the Presidio YMCA helped build a fence around a street tree for local senior Elsie, so she would no longer have to bend over to clean up deposits left by friendly neighborhood dogs.

Richmond District photographer Dallis Willard was on hand to document the memories and accomplishments of volunteers. 

The Richmond Senior Center has been helping older adults and people with disabilities age safely and remain active and engaged for the past 25 years. San Francisco’s Department of Disability and Aging Services (DAS) supports the Golden Gate Village and the many other programs of the Richmond Senior Center in providing services and building a vibrant and supportive community. 

Shireen McSpadden, executive director of DAS, noted that the City has committed, “through our Reframing Aging San Francisco campaign, to end ageism and ensure that all residents can thrive in our City. The Richmond Senior Center’s ‘One Hard Thing’ event is an excellent example of an innovative, intergenerational program that helps us to further these goals. The program fosters effective partnerships between government agencies and local organizations and supports and empowers older adults and adults with disabilities.’”


Supervisor Fewer helps Linda, who is blind, read and organize old letters. Photo by Angelina Yu.

Now more than ever it is critical that neighbors look out for one another. Older adults are San Francisco’s fastest-growing age demographic – by 2030, seniors and adults with disabilities will comprise roughly one third of San Francisco’s population. Meanwhile, the threat of PG&E power outages, earthquakes, housing insecurity and other challenges pose unique obstacles to elders’ ability to age with dignity in their communities.

One of the best strategies for building community resilience and reducing elder isolation, especially in disasters, is for neighbors to know one another. Volunteers weren’t just on a mission to help Richmond District neighbors with “one hard thing,” but to also build relationships with each other and enhance the strength of their local community.


Jeff Hawkins of the Presidio YMCA’s YMaker program gets to work constructing a fence for Elsie and Albert. Photo by Dallis Willard.

If you would like support your neighbors and elders please contact Lisa Geren, volunteer coordinator, at or (415) 322-0331. To learn more about the programs offered at the Richmond Senior Center visit, call (415) 752-6444, or visit us in-person at 6221 Geary Blvd., third floor, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m.– 3 p.m.”


See more photos here.

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