By: Michael Vuong, Clubhouse Director, Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco’s Tenderloin Clubhouse
Every San Francisco neighborhood has its own unique ecosystem. For a Clubhouse Director like me, it is essential to be aware of how our local communities operate. A big part of my job is making sure that I am well connected to local organizations, businesses, and civic leaders in order to serve our youth and families in the best way possible.
With 14 Club locations across the City, Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco (BGCSF) is a big and important part of many communities. This is certainly true in the Tenderloin. Since 1996, BGCSF has had a Clubhouse in the heart of the Tenderloin offering outstanding youth development services for youth ages six to 18. I am proud of the work we do today and proud of the long history of this Clubhouse.
The Tenderloin has the densest concentration of youth in the City and over 90% of our Tenderloin Club members live here in the community. Our families struggle with well-documented concerns including safety, open drug use, and unclean streets. It takes commitment and sustained effort to ensure that our local families can safely access the support resources that they need and deserve. Providing a safe space with high-quality afterschool and summer programs, and unique experiences, is a responsibility my team and I take very seriously.
The Tenderloin is tough, there is no doubt about it — but it is also beautiful. We are surrounded by rich culture, great food, amazing art, and a wonderful community deeply committed to collaboration. Despite all the challenges we face, there are many hidden gems that, oftentimes, only locals know about. We are proud of the many positive aspects of our neighborhood. Moreover, we want our kids to feel the same pride and connection to the many incredible things that are happening here; and we want our families to love their neighborhood as much as any other families love their neighborhood.
This appreciation for our community led BGCSF to become a key collaborator in the first annual I Love Tenderloin Week - a recent week-long celebration of all the things going right in the Tenderloin. We were proud to partner with almost 50 incredible community organizations, small businesses, and residents, to create a range of fun-filled activities that highlighted the best of the neighborhood we call home. From beautification days, movie screenings, performing arts, visual art walks, wellness activities, a Spring Family Fest, and multiple events showcasing local food and small businesses, we invited locals and visitors alike to experience the Tenderloin in a new way.
At least three events were planned per day and the schedule provided a wide range of activities. Every aspect of planning was intentional and funds raised during many of the events were reinvested back into our community. Proceeds from the BGCSF-hosted event—a happy hour at Hilton San Francisco Union Square, our longtime partner—were directed toward sending members of the Tenderloin Clubhouse to BGCSF’s residential summer camp, Camp Mendocino, this summer.
There was so much to celebrate throughout the week. Positive activation has consistently proven to be a way to deter negative behaviors in our neighborhood, plus we see how these activations benefit the community as a whole. When community partners are able to rehab or reconstruct a building, or introduce a new program or business at certain blocks of the Tenderloin, the block will absorb that layer of positivity which creates a new sense of safety and purpose that didn’t exist before.
BGCSF is committed to being part of a brighter future for the neighborhood and we are currently exploring plans for a new state-of-the-art Clubhouse in the Tenderloin. This new Clubhouse is expected to serve the community for more than 50 years. I am proud to be a part of an organization that not only supports local communities, but also invests in San Francisco’s evolution and growth.
Our youth and families deserve this dedicated commitment and consistent leadership and I look forward to sharing more as plans for our new Clubhouse evolve. In the meantime, I encourage you to learn more about all the incredible things happening in the Tenderloin and to help us spread the word and raise public awareness of all that is going right in our community.
In addition to his role as Clubhouse Director of the Tenderloin Clubhouse, Michael Vuong is active throughout the Tenderloin community. His roles include: Board President for the Tenderloin Community Benefit District, Board Member for the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation, and Advisory Board Member of The Healing WELL.