S.F. lends a hand to residents confused about city services

San Francisco parents frustrated with finding the right services for their families will receive assistance from a new city program aimed at bridging the gap between public agencies and community needs.

A group of 20 “community conveners,” selected by the Department of Children, Youth and Their Families, will act as information centers for parents around The City, helping to coordinate family services, promote neighborhood events and organize community assessment meetings.

According to department Director Margaret Brodkin, the genesis of the community convener program emerged two years ago when department officials began outreach meetings with parents to determine the top concerns of San Francisco families.

“The most common problem we found from parents was that they did not know what resources were out there for them,” Brodkin said.

DCYF started contacting neighborhood organizations last summer about the program, and in July the department began accepting grant applications, Brodkin said. Grants for community conveners, dispersed through The City’s Children’s Fund, range from $30,000 to $60,000 depending on neighborhood needs, with the total cost of the program adding up to $935,000 for this fiscal year, Brodkin said. No new funding will be spent on the program.

Sheryl Davis, who acts as the Western Addition community convener through her organization, Mo’ Magic, said the program is essential for building personal relationships within the neighborhood.

“Sometimes the e-mails and the Internet don't work,” Davis said. She was one of the first community conveners to be awarded with a grant when she received hers in July. “The chance to meet people personally and to build relationships and trust is crucial for a community.”

Tina Collins, a lifelong resident in the Western Addition and mother of three girls, Myisha, 14, Aaliyah, 5, and Star, 3, has used the community convener program as a way to provide services for her children, and as a referral system for other parents in need.

“I’ve been in the community my whole life and a lot of parents come to me asking where they should go for help,” Collins said. “I send them to Sheryl and she introduces them to all of the services out there.”

James Knoebber, a community convener at the Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Center, said the program has been instrumental in unifying community-based organizations.

“It acts as a conduit in bringing family issues to the forefront,” he said. “Before this program, scattered groups would approach different city agencies with their concerns. There is a lot more force when there are 10-12 groups coming out together.”

wreisman@examiner.com  

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Anti-eviction demonstrators rally outside San Francisco Superior Court. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Report: Unpaid rent due to COVID-19 could be up to $32.7M per month

A new city report that attempts to quantify how much rent has… Continue reading

Music venues around The City have largely been unable to reopen due to ongoing pandemic health orders. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SF to cut $2.5M in fees to help 300 nightlife venues

San Francisco will cut $2.5 million in fees for hundreds of entertainment… Continue reading

Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett departs the U.S. Capitol on October 21, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump nominated Barrett to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg after Ginsburg’s death. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images)
GOP senators confirm Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court in partisan vote

By Jennifer Haberkorn Los Angeles Times The Senate on Monday confirmed Judge… Continue reading

Curator Tim Burgard looks over a section of the galleries comprising “The de Young Open,” a huge, varied collection of work by Bay Area artists. (Photo courtesy Gary Sexton/Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco)
Bay Area artists jam-pack vivid ‘de Young Open’

Huge exhibition — with works for sale — showcases diversity, supports community

SF Board of Education vice president Gabriela Lopez and commissioner Alison Collins listen at a news conference condemning recent racist and social media attacks targeted at them and the two student representatives on Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Online attacks on school board members denounced by city officials

City officials on Monday condemned the targeting of school board members, both… Continue reading

Most Read