By Meyer Gorelick
Established three years ago at the behest of SF Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, One Richmond is a city-funded branch of the Richmond Neighborhood Center aimed at building community connectivity. It has continued fulfilling that mission during this past month’s shelter-in-place orders as online and social media engagement has skyrocketed in the absence of normal in-person community events and programs.
One Richmond currently has more than 4,000 members, including residents, local businesses and people who work in the neighborhood. But not long ago it was simply an idea that needed to be shared and cultivated.
Naomi Hui, the community relations manager at the Richmond Neighborhood Center, spearheaded One Richmond. She worked with an aide to Fewer in 2017 to conduct eight community meetings and collect 900 survey responses. They wanted feedback on what One Richmond’s four guiding principles – “We’re inclusive, we take care of each other, we take care of the Richmond, and we shop and eat local” – meant to residents, merchants, seniors, families and other community stakeholders.
Phase two was creating programs around these principles and building membership. As Hui began rolling out programs, she realized that the more pressing need was for a community hub, a brick-and-mortar location where people can physically connect and gain access to resources.
With an office established at 802 Clement St., next door to Hamburger Haven, One Richmond was prepared to move forward with more in-depth programming. Community meetings and events, as well as regular traffic through the new office allowed local businesses to patch into the community network. They also began providing meals, services and other resources to seniors and residents in need.
“There is a lot of social cohesion in the district because we have so many partners that we work with,” Hui said.
She highlighted the Richmond Community Coalition, a group of non-profits and city agencies. One Richmond helped promote volunteer opportunities at these organizations, resulting in hundreds of new volunteer applications.
When COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders made face-to-face operations impossible, One Richmond successfully pivoted and updated their online presence to continue providing similar services at a safe distance.
“Our purpose has always been to serve the community’s needs, and as those needs have shifted so have we,” One Richmond Community Organizer Maggie Hazard said.
One program has become a moving target for the Neighborhood Center: food pantries. Since COVID-19 has impacted San Francisco, there is a growing need for volunteers to help with their food distribution. Attendance has been hard to predict as the need rises but the shelter-in-place order has made it difficult to predict how many people will need to be served. Since the conditions change rapidly, current information is available on their website.
Hui said that One Richmond’s online engagement has gone through the roof, as community members are visiting their website frequently for COVID-19 updates and using the shop local section to learn which restaurants or stores are open and what services they’re currently offering.
“We’ve had 1,080 visits to the Shop Local page in about three weeks,” Hui said. “It’s pretty amazing that people are using the One Richmond website to connect with the merchants.”
Since COVID-19 hit, there has been a 300-500% increase in website engagement.
Hazard, who is in charge of social media for One Richmond, said that their Instagram following has more than doubled to greater than 400.
“I’ve been trying to keep our messaging positive and uplifting,” Hazard said.
She uses its Instagram page to share trivia and fun facts about the neighborhood as well as shout out local businesses doing social good, like donating meals. One Richmond’s online presence has also become a reliable, streamlined source for important information from local and state officials.
Despite the current shift to remote operations, Hui still has big plans for One Richmond’s future on both the micro and macro scale.
“We’ve been working on a jingle and would love to have a mascot,” she said.
On top of increasing the volunteer base, promoting service within the district, and getting more young people involved, Hui wants to mobilize One Richmond so that people can engage with ideas and programs beyond the district.
“Even though it starts out local and it lives local, it’s important to kind of have a broader focus moving forward, so that everyone is thinking bigger and kind of aligning with bigger programs and issues outside of the Richmond,” Hui added.
To become a member, the only requirement is spending a lot of time in the Richmond, whether that means living there or working there.
For more information and to volunteer to help, visit the One Richmond website at http://www.onerichmondsf.com or the Richmond Neighborhood Center’s website at RichmondSF.org.
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