Homeless outreach nonprofit North Beach Citizens celebrated its move to its new home today (1034 Kearny St.) in front of a sea of umbrellas, as the clouds dumped drops right during the planned ribbon-cutting.
Ruth Yankoupe, board president, said, "I'm glad it rained. Someone said rain is good luck." But luck is only part of it: Various speakers said the hard work and support of the community led up to today's official opening. Yankoupe added that she was "completely overwhelmed by the generosity of every person who's contributed, either by time, funds, services or blood, sweat and tears."
The group had outgrown its leased storefront at 720 Columbus Ave., and an anonymous donor covered the cost of the $1.7 million building. The total cost of the project, including the property, construction, retrofitting and ongoing operations, is about $5 million. North Beach Citizens has raised about $2.7 million of that. (We reported more details on the space and expansion in April.)
Mayor Ed Lee, Kristie Fairchild and Capt. David Lazar.
At least 100 people or so showed up to today's event, which began at 1pm and was marked by balloons and a DJ playing oldies. Mayor Ed Lee told the crowd the city needs more centers like North Beach Citizens and the Navigation Centers so there's a place for people to go and get help. "We're not going to criminalize homelessness," he said. "We want to help people get off the streets."
District 3 Supervisor Julie Christensen spoke, saying, "This couldn't be happening at a better time. We know from the summer count that homelessness is up 27 percent in our district this year." And SFPD Central Station Capt. David Lazar said on behalf of Chief Greg Suhr and every officer, it was an honor to be in partnership to help the homeless. "This is best-practice," he said, for nonprofits, city government and law enforcement to come together as they do here in San Francisco.
Kristie Fairchild, Julie Christensen and Ruth Yankoupe.
Yankoupe also addressed the crowd, saying "Gratitude is one of the least articulate of the emotions, especially when it's deeply felt. That quote does a really good job summarizing why I'm having trouble finding the right words to say thank you."
The new kitchen.
After the brief speeches, as everyone was trying to not get soaked, the group filtered into the new headquarters to mingle, sip Champagne and munch on appetizers from Rose Pistola. People got tours of the kitchen and food pantry as well as the second-floor office space, which features artwork from previous fundraisers. But it was clear the work isn't done. "I'm here to get homeless people off the streets, and I expect everybody to get on board," said executive director Kristie Fairchild.
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