Dear PHC Family,
It’s hard to believe it was over six years ago that I walked into my first Project Homeless Connect event. As an old school social worker, seeing hundreds of nonprofits working together to give vital services in such an accessible and dignified way was like pure electricity. And then to see the thousands of community members give their time to make sure each participant had their needs met – I was hooked instantly. The scene reminded me of a quote an old professor used to say that always intrigued me: “Politicians alone can’t end homelessness, the only lasting change will come by communities”. PHC models that truth. We all have to work together as a community to make lasting change.
I moved to San Francisco to join PHC because I wanted to work under leadership like that of Director of Public Health Barbara Garcia, Mayor Ed Lee, and Lt. Gov Newsom, who all have worked tirelessly to support PHC. These and other city leaders, matched with dedicated city workers, community volunteers, and comprehensive collaborative services realized we can do more when we do it together. The concept of collaboration and efficiency inspired me. But it was the heart of the thousands of volunteers, giving their time and effort, that invigorated my hope that together, we WILL make change. And together, we have.
In the past six years we have grown to offer collaborative services every day! Instead of just large events several times a year, we saw that there was a greater need for daily and emergency services. Whether through our CareVan mobile service, daily in-office services, or our many community events – with all of us working together- we are now giving nearly 1,000 services per month. In addition to our work with individuals experiencing homelessness, we’ve also added Provider Connect trainings so all agencies may better communicate and learn together, as well as educational Outreach walks to help educate our community regarding the needs of those we serve.
Our volunteers and partners have enabled PHC to reach further than we ever thought possible. Seeing how this work saves lives has been the highlight of my career. Working with each of you has taught me that no one is alone: San Francisco really cares for every individual, and when given an opportunity to help, our community shows up. We understand that San Francisco is different, because we as people are different. We believe in being the city of Saint Francis through not just our words, but our actions. Nearly 25,000 Bay Area residents stand with PHC, and it’s been my privilege to stand tall with you. Whether it is speaking about LGBTQ Homelessness at Pride, or PHC being recognized nationally and internationally as a best practice that is now duplicated in 250 cities and 4 countries, San Francisco is continuing to show who we are, and I thank you for allowing me to lead this great work.
As we have grown, I’ve felt blessed daily by you. From the people we serve whom I’ve grown to love, to our amazing PHC team of staff, collaborators and volunteers – we have done amazing things together. And while I know this inspiring work will continue, I’m changing my role so that we may do even more of this vital work.
Many of you know that I’ve struggled with my health. Over the past several months it’s become apparent to me that I can’t lead PHC with the vigor that it deserves. This has been a sobering reality as PHC has become my family, my inspiration, and my hope for a better America. But I know PHC can do more, I just won’t be the one to take us further.
My deputy, Tawny Bailey and I spent many hours discussing roles and how PHC can be the most efficient and effective. During this time, I became aware of Meghan Freebeck and her great innovation at Simply the Basics. Their organization provides basic needs for improved health and dignity to people experiencing homelessness, teaches Healthy Living & Life Skills classes, and hosts regular community events. Not only is Meghan the founder of this new organization – she is experienced in nonprofit leadership and has served in executive roles for other agencies, serving those experiencing homelessness as well as being the Deputy Director of San Francisco Suicide Prevention. Meghan is someone I greatly admire. I realized she has the skills, passion, graciousness, and health to do the things needed to further PHC’s mission.
After months of discussions, we have asked Meghan Freebeck to join PHC as our Acting CEO. I will stay on as CEO with PHC through the transition, but will step away in 2018 to focus on my health.
Since PHC feels like my family, making sure they’re in the most capable hands has been my priority. With Meghan Freebeck as CEO and Tawny Bailey as COO, I know we will not only continue to do great work, but with your ongoing help, we will do even more.
If you’d like to learn more about Meghan’s work, some recent articles highlighting her excellent work can be found here, here, and here. We are so lucky to have her with the other amazing folks on team PHC.
It takes us all,