By Richard Johnson
Even a decade ago our neighborhood was quite different. Our community was a neighborhood in transition. We had a long history of being neglected by city hall, were ground zero for drug dealers, prostitutes, crime and violence. Safety concerns forced many residents to seek refuge in their homes. This caused isolation and led to a fragmented community. A wave of newcomers seeking affordable rents relocated to the Western Addition and compounded the negative effects of previous gentrification. Rent prices spiked forcing more neighbors out. Fear and discontent bubbled up and grew.
In a move to build community, Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association (HVNA), under the leadership of Patricia Walkup, assumed the first role of community builder in Hayes Valley in the early nineties. Patricia’s success in outreaching to key community stakeholders convinced many to join HVNA as partners to advocate for a safe community. A simple vision based on safety laid the early groundwork for the resiliency of present day Hayes Valley. Along the way we came to realize addiction, redevelopment, broken homes, few supportive services, low or no education and the need to earn a living are the prime causes that drive the cycle of crime and violence. To reverse this cycle, HVNA partnered with Safety Network to co-found Hayes Valley Community Partners (HVCP) in 2002. HVCP initial goal was to reach out to key community stakeholders and convince them to become founding partners in a collaboration whose number one priority was to reverse and break the cycle of crime and violence rampant throughout the Western Addition. We choose the simple mission to foster a safe and caring community as our founding principal. The belief in a just and equitable society, where everyone is given the opportunity to access ample resources to achieve their greatest potential, motivates us to advocate for the betterment of all segments of our community. Since our inception we have added new partners, expanded our area of advocacy to include Lower Haight/Hayes Valley/Western Addition and changed our name, in 2007, to Community Partners United (CPU).
CPU hosts community gatherings, throughout the year, to bolster our neighborhood connections. Since our first season, we still rely on food, entertainment and conversation to bring community together. Positive interaction among diverse communities helps to breakdown barriers, reduce turf wars, create new friendships and to bridge the intergenerational gap between youth and seniors. Each year, for the last nine years, we end each year with our “Fostering a Safe and Caring Holiday Season”, which now goes from Halloween to late December. We gather to celebrate community while supporting one another and help to reduce the stress and strain associated with the holidays.
In keeping with our tradition of community building, I extend an invitation to all to attend and participate in our 10th Annual Fostering a Safe and Caring Holiday Season 2011. What could be more important during these uncertain times than to come together and support each other?
You and your family are cordially invited to attend the following events;
Thanksgiving Dinner: Saturday, November 19th
Giving Voice to the Season “Music in Patricia’s Green and Community Mixer”: Friday, December 2nd
Hayes Valley Merchants Block Party: Friday, December 2nd
Wreath and Card Making Event: Saturday, December 10th
Food Give Away to over 250 families: December 15th and 16th
Community Luncheon: Saturday, December 17th
Community Partners United provides free food, fun, entertainment and venue. All you have to do is show up and have a great time. Please refer to the back page of the Voice to see the calendar for times and location of all scheduled functions. I look forward to seeing you at one of the upcoming community events!