I normally do not add my own personal reflections in this monthly column and have chosen to use this space to update neighbors on what is happening in the district and at City Hall. However, as we head into the holiday season, I would like to use this opportunity to bring us together as a community and as neighbors as we close out this challenging year.
I am writing this column four days before Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving this year has taken on a different meaning for me, and I think for most of us. We as a neighborhood, as a city, as a state, as a country and as a world, have taken a beating this past year. COVID entered our world and changed our everyday lives quickly, brutally and destructively.
We witnessed our loved ones becoming ill, our friends and family members succumbing to the deadliness of the disease and our own personal and economic security being threatened. We have witnessed increased homelessness as the disease dictated that our shelter plans could no longer be implemented and we as a city had to quickly pivot to save lives. We saw devastation to our small businesses and people’s lives, and our own inability to see and touch family members and loved ones.
It was and is heartbreaking. However, it also gave us an opportunity to see what we are made of. It was an opportunity to see how and if we can still be our best, even through devastating times. It was an opportunity for the human spirit to uplift and strengthen, or to succumb to dark cynicism, anger and hate. It was an opportunity for all of us to choose hope over despair, generosity over selfishness, love of humanity over hate.
The simple act of wearing a mask to keep other people safe became a small symbol of everyone doing their part. It has given us an opportunity to be thankful for what we have, to appreciate all that has been given to us and to thank those who have responded during this time. There were neighborhood heroes who emerged during this time of need. You will not read about them on Nextdoor or on social media, as what they do is not for recognition, but simply because they felt it was their personal responsibility to step up in this time of need. Let’s shed some light on these humble One Richmond Heroes.
One Richmond Heroes
Behind the scenes at the Richmond Senior Center, Aileen Ichikawa took the lead on weekly wellness calls, coordinated lunch deliveries and care packages, set up Zoom classes and secured a donation of masks for seniors early on during the pandemic. And, rather importantly, Aileen screened, trained and inspired the cohort of volunteers who worked to ensure elders would stay connected and supported, even while physically apart. Thank you to Aileen and all the volunteers.
As San Francisco sheltered in place, food security needs among seniors grew exponentially. Self Help for the Elderly rapidly scaled up operations, creatively leveraging public and private partnerships and empowering a network of 300 volunteers to deliver 4,000 meals daily to homebound seniors across the City. Thank you to the collective service of the fierce volunteers and staff who sustained this essential meal-delivery program that has provided a lifeline for our community.
As small businesses have had to pivot to operate their businesses, we witnessed the strength of merchants coming together, and stepping up to support one another through this pandemic. Tony Lau, an owner of K-Elements BBQ, provided his experience in navigating the Shared Spaces process to help many other restaurants build out their Shared Space platforms! In the spirit of giving back, K-Elements provided holiday meals to 150 seniors in the Richmond last year and is continuing the tradition during this time of need. Thank you to Tony and his team!
This December will be like no other we have known. I have known Christmases before that have been personally tragic, like two days before Christmas in 1971 when I was 14 and received a call while babysitting that my father had suffered a massive heart attack and died. Just two hours before, I was seated at the dinner table with him and my family making Christmas plans. This holiday season, however, will be different for almost everyone. In fact, it will be different for people around the world, not just across the street. Above all, this is the time we all can come together and reaffirm our belief in Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward All.
So, Bon Courage, neighbors. We can get through this. Be well and stay well in all ways as we welcome in 2021.
Final note: Recognizing the importance of access to testing in our COVID-19 response, we are working to bring pop-up testing to the Richmond. Visit sf.gov/GetTested.
San Francisco Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer represents District 1 on the SF Board of Supervisors. She can be reached at (415) 554-7410 or Sandra.Fewer@sfgov.org.
Categories: City Hall