A letter from BGCSF President Rob Connolly to supporters:
It’s been a tough few weeks, and I can see that the weeks ahead are going to be even more difficult. The coronavirus is wreaking havoc on societies all over the world. Like many of you, I pivot between staying abreast of the global crisis, national crisis, and regional/San Francisco crisis. I spend my days now gaming out what the crisis will look like two days ahead — educating myself so that I can plan, communicate, and effectively lead. I am in regular communication with the City, specifically the Department of Children, Youth, and Their Families (DCYF) and the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH), for guidance and information sharing.
Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco (BGCSF) has seven of its thirteen San Francisco locations open for limited hours and for a limited number of youth. BGCSF qualifies as an Essential Business as defined in the public health order. The Club is complying with SFDPH guidelines for childcare and youth services providers regarding social distancing. In addition to small-group programming, the Clubs provide daily lunch service to make sure that children do not go without daily nutrition.
Simultaneously, BGCSF built out a plan for virtual Club programming to engage with large numbers of youth from ages six to 18. Starting just two days after the Mayor of San Francisco ordered a shelter in place, BGCSF piloted the first of our virtual Club programs at the Excelsior Clubhouse. Less than a week later, we had built out a full schedule and began to engage youth and families across the City. The focus areas for our virtual engagement efforts are to keep our members connected outside the home, to bring about a return of routine and normalcy in their lives, and to facilitate continued learning and advancement. Through our engagement, we listen and reassure youth that no matter how much the world has changed, they are and will continue to be heard, valued, loved, and understood.
We work in communities that face significant challenges in the best of times. Abruptly taking critical resources like the Club out of communities during a time of heightened stress and anxiety could have significant unintended consequences. City leaders understand this, and we are all working together to meet our communities’ needs in the safest and smartest manner possible.
For all of us, there is no playbook for how to handle this crisis. The best we can do is to educate ourselves and muster up the energy to lead and serve with grace, empathy, courage, and strength.
Thank you for being a supporter of BGCSF. Your past support has enabled us to build and sustain an organization that is deeply embedded in our neighborhoods and therefore well-positioned to help our communities overcome and rebound from the impacts of this virus.
BGCSF is currently offering free support and training to Black-serving and Black-led individuals and organizations participating in The Dream Keeper Initiative, a citywide effort launched in 2021 to reinvest $120 million over two years into San Francisco’s diverse Black communities.
April is Arab American Heritage Month and I am excited to both reflect on what this month means to me personally and share how BGCSF and Camp Mendocino engage Arab youth and their families.
We are pleased to highlight a member of our Senior Leadership Team, Erin Gutierrez. Erin has served the BGCSF community for 15 years. Her experience spans multiple roles across the organization and provides a powerful and unique perspective on the holistic impact of BGCSF.