Posted by Jane Ferguson Flout on Feb 01, 2020
Catholic Charities is the Rotary Club of San Francisco’s first corporate member and one of the largest human services agencies in Northern California for more than a century now, serving 32,000 children, homeless families, immigrants, aging adults, and adults with disabilities, in San Francisco, Marin, and San Mateo counties through more than 30 different programs. 
Lisa Stark, Ann Daugherty, Gary Keener, Jane Mermelstein, David Dye, Bill Poppen, and Kathryn McCall19 members of our Club, which included five from Catholic Charities, stepped up to the plate on the evening of January 30, 2020 for 300 children and adults experiencing homelessness by assembling survival kits in the form of sturdy new backpacks filled with healthy snacks, essential hygiene items, t-shirts, socks, blankets, and stuffed animals for the kids. A Rotary Foundation grant funded all of the backpacks and most of the contents. Project Night Night and Simply the Basics also contributed items. 
Homeless outreach teams will distribute the backpacks at Catholic Charities' Bayview and Mission Access Points. Catholic Charities' homeless outreach teams go out everyday for five hours to the places where homeless families and individuals are living on the streets of San Francisco. They meet the families where they are, distribute much needed supplies, and offer their services to connect the families to housing, food and medical care. This work builds trust in people who are wary of the system and gives them trusted partners, renewed hope, and a pathway out of poverty.
Jefferson McCarley, Bill Poppen, Gary Keener, Ann Daugherty, Kathryn McCall, David Dye, Dora Dye, Lisa Stark, Jilma Meneses, Jane Mermelstein, JT Forbus, and president Casey BlairThose who assembled the backpacks at Catholic Charities' office at Eddy and Gough remarked on how enjoyable this service event was for them. “It was well organized with lots of impact in a short time; great food/drink/view; and well attended. We were honored to be there and honored to have Catholic Charities as part of our Club,” noted one member. 
Thank you to all who contributed to this meaningful service project. Those who participated were Rhonda and Bill Poppen, Dora and David Dye, Gary Keener and his husband, Jefferson McCarley, Jane Mermelstein, Rachel Kantosky, Kathryn McCall, Dan Joraanstad, Bob Hermann, Lisa Stark, Ann Daugherty, JT Forbus, and president Casey Blair. In attendance from Catholic Charities were Carol Laughlin, Colleen McCarthy, Pat Gallagher, Jilma Meneses, Juanita Vega, and Jane Ferguson Flout.
Footnote: Besides providing social services, Catholic Charities also advocates at the local, state, and federal levels to contribute to systemic policy change that positively impacts the most vulnerable among us. For example, Catholic Charities is currently partnering with the City of San Francisco and local nonprofits to encourage all Bay Area residents to complete the 2020 Census to ensure an equitable distribution of federal resources for local roads, schools, and social services in California. Toward this end, a Census 2020 flyer was included in each survival kit at our service project to encourage our unhoused neighbors to stand up and be counted in the 2020 Census so that their voices will be included on Census Day on April 1, 2020.