Steven Kenyon, San Francisco City FC vice president of community development, shovels mulch during a club volunteer day at the AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park on Saturday. (Shannon Cole/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Steven Kenyon, San Francisco City FC vice president of community development, shovels mulch during a club volunteer day at the AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park on Saturday. (Shannon Cole/Special to S.F. Examiner)

SF City FC chips in at AIDS Memorial Grove

Under a clear blue sky on a Saturday morning, staff and supporters of San Francisco City FC gather in Golden Gate Park to spend the morning beautifying the National AIDS Memorial Grove.

The Premier Development League soccer club calls Kezar Stadium home, which makes them practically next door neighbors to the Memorial Grove. But it still surprised development manager Steve Sagaser when he got a call from the team asking if they could spend a day helping out in the neighborhood.

“I don’t recall a sports team working with us before,” said Sagaser. “We weren’t expecting it when they called and we are so grateful for them.”

Approximately 30 of the club’s fans and staff members worked in the grove alongside members from Google’s gay employees resource group called The Gayglers, San Francisco Spikes Soccer Club, and members of the community, including those who have lost family members to AIDS.

The morning of service opened with a greeting from executive director John Cunningham, who asked those gathered to observe a moment of silence to remember the 49 lives lost in the Pulse nightclub shooting six days earlier. Board member Kory Powell-McCoy then called those gathered to action, urging them to continue to display acts of love to one another and to call their representatives about gun control.

The National AIDS Memorial Grove was created during the height of the AIDS epidemic as a place of reflection and healing for those affected by the virus. It hosts 16 workdays a year when the public or corporate groups pull weeds, place rocks and tend to the flora of the grove.

“It’s a place of healing,” said executive director John Cunningham. “It was created as a grassroots, local project to seek healing. That has continued every single month.”

Casey Proud, a member of the City FC supporters group known as the Northsiders who also serves as a supporter representative on the team’s board of directors, believes that community service and soccer go hand in hand.

“We’ve mandated that part of what we do is get involved with and give back to the community,” Proud said. “We want to do 300 man hours of community service every year.”

The Northsiders gather in the north side of the Kezar Stadium stands on gamedays, loudly singing to encourage their team on the pitch as they bang drums and wave flags in the air. Among the city of San Francisco and team flags, the group has taken to flying a few rainbow flags.

Proud said it’s because the Northsiders want everyone to know they are welcome in their ranks. “Our space is a bigotry-free zone,” Proud said. “We don’t accept hateful words in our section, that’s not what we’re about. Rascism, sexism, that kind of stuff, we’re not about that.”AIDS Memorial GroveGolden Gate ParkKezar StadiumMen's soccerPremier Development LeagueSan Franciscosan francisco soccerSF City FCshannon cole

Just Posted

San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler, pictured in July at Oracle Park, says team members simultaneously can be “measured and calm” and “looking to push the accelerator.” (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
How Gabe Kapler sets the tone for Giants’ success with strategy, mindset

‘There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s the hands-down manager of the year’

Artist Agnieszka Pilat, pictured with Spot the Robot Dog from Boston Robotics, has a gallery show opening at Modernism. (Courtesy Agnieszka Pilat)
Screenshots of VCs, Kanye and tech parties by the Bay

In this week’s roundup, Ben Horowitz’s surprising hip-hop knowledge and the chic tech crowd at Shack15

If he secured a full term in the Senate, Newsom would become the most powerful Californian Democrat since Phil Burton at the height of his career, or maybe ever. <ins>(Kevin Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
Firefighters extinguish burning material near Lake Tahoe on Sept. 3 in the wake of the Caldor Fire; environmental scientists say the huge fire is bringing to light deficiencies in forest management. <ins>(Max Whittaker/New York Times)</ins>
Cal Fire, timber industry must face an inconvenient truth

We are logging further into the wildfire and climate crisis

Changing zoning in San Francisco neighborhoods where single family homes prevail is crucial in the effort to achieve equity. (Shutterstock)
To make SF livable, single-family zoning must be changed

Let’s move to create affordable housing for working class families

Most Read