And All That Pride…

Some things don’t have to change. We are who we are. Thank god.

While this pandemic will prevent us from marching down Market Street in colorful mass to mark the 50th anniversary of the first Pride parades held in San Francisco and New York City, it does not prevent us from coming together to celebrate ourselves, our hard-fought achievements, our rampant creativity, and our strength in community.

(As published in  the San Francisco Bay Times, May 21, 2020)

On the contrary, it should inspire us to do so regardless – safely, of course, with smart adherence to in-person social distancing guidelines, and plenty of aplomb.

I have long admired my good friends Donna Sachet and Gary Virginia—the most dynamic of duos—giving, doing, organizing, giving, convening, inspiring, doing, (did I mention giving?), entertaining, celebrating, and bringing it over and over again in big and small ways to meet community needs. So, I am not surprised that they will outdo themselves again this year.  

Their legendary Pride Brunch—the event of the seasonwill go on, June 27th, and everyone is invited!  

Donna and Gary's Brunch ChallengeFrom the comfort of your living room, kitchen, or dining room, Gary and Donna will bring you the Grand Marshals of the Pride Parade at high-noon on Saturday June 27th, honor the rich history of LGBTQ culture and liberation, and celebrate 50 years of San Francisco Pride with a saucy kitchen battle. The two will share their favorite brunch recipes and you will be the judge yourself, crowning the winner “Pride Brunch Queen.” 

We can sit back and relax with hosted cocktails and a delicious brunch delivered right to our respective doors. Or you can dance, parade, and sing along to live entertainment, live auctions, and special surprises in the privacy of your own home. This longstanding PRC fundraiser honors individuals and organizations fighting for LGBTQ equality, while raising critical dollars for PRC’s lifesaving services like legal advocacy, emergency financial assistance, residential treatment, and employment services. 

Celebrating 50 years of San Francisco community Pride, parading, and action, it is hard to believe how far the LGBTQ movement has come since the Stonewall riots eruptedawakening a new generation of legal and social advocacy. In retrospect, this turning point brings new lessons today amid this evolving era of worldwide COVID-19 public health emergency. We are all connected, and we are stronger when we stand together. 

As public consciousness is rising about that interconnectedness and our Country’s glaring health, income and access inequities, I am proud of San Francisco, our LGBT and allied communities. We’re on the frontlines, showing up for the most vulnerable again and again. And while there is still plenty of work to doI look forward to celebrating the contributions and opportunities brought by this year’s Grand Marshals—The LGBT Asylum Project, Founder of the Spahr Center Rev. Dr. Jane Spahr, and Executive Director of the LGBT Historical Society Terry Beswick—at this year’s virtual Pride Brunch.  

PRC, Pride Brunch’s beneficiary, has long fought for the most disenfranchised and health-challenged in our community on the frontlines of HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ advocacy for access to basic and critical resources. Today, these efforts are even more important as the impact of longstanding fissures in health status and experiences by race, geography, income, and identity are laid bare by the novel coronavirus. PRC is providing emergency funds for rent, medication, and connectivity; legal advocacy to preserve healthcare and subsistence income through job loss and upheaval; and emotional support and employment services to keep people moving forward; while also sheltering nearly 300 adults in place through a substance use and mental health treatment continuum prioritizing health, safety, and wellness.  

As a 55-year old African American gay man, I am both deeply familiar with the disconnection between legal equality and lived equality and deeply indebted to the collective advocacy of so many courageous individuals who were willing to hold the line, never back down, and stand in harm’s way. So, let’s come together on June 27th and celebrate what’s good and great about San Francisco Pride.

Inspired again by Gary and Donna, I think the dire issues of the day will continue to galvanize us – a  Inspired again by Gary and Donna, I think the dire issues of the day will continue to galvanize us – a strongereven more compassionate community. I choose joy, love, honesty, empathy, compassion and service along with a hint of leather, lipstick, and humor. So, let’s brunch 

How could we not celebrate Pride’s 50th anniversary. I’m already planning my outfit. Don’t miss the Battle of the Queens, Gary Virginia and Donna Sachet’s legendary Pride Bruch, streaming live at 12pm on June 27th. Tickets are on sale, so get yours today, and prepare to give big. See you there. 

Computer Learning Center Expands Opportunity

Inside PRC’s buzzing 24-station Computer Learning Center, more than 100 people like Marilyn, Kim, and Sam are building digital literacy and skills to grow their income and workforce engagement.

“I’m so excited to move forward and into the workforce again.”

Outdated skills and gaps in employment can be hard to face, so PRC Workforce Development offers skill and community building opportunities that get people trained-up, confident, and back on their feet. Two accredited programs—Next Step Computer Training and Step Up Administrative Training—provide 64 combined hours of digital literacy and office skills readying people with mental and physical health disabilities for competitive internships and employment opportunities. Last year, PRC ran 20 cycles graduating 106 trainees!

“I have a better grasp on how this [technology] works…finally.”

The results speak for themselves. In 2019, employed graduates saw their annual incomes increase 337%.

People with disabilities experience three times the unemployment rate of the general population. But PRC is getting people into the workforce at more than double the statewide rate. When PRC opened the Integrated Service Center’s doors in April 2019, our computer lab’s capacity more than doubled, and the Workforce Development team began to ramp up classes, programs, and skill building opportunities. In less than one year, with the same high quality, high impact instruction, enrollment is up 30%.

“I can’t place a value on this experience. It was motivational, personally uplifting, and I learned so much in such a short time.”

Graduate
December Graduates: Marilyn (above); Kim (top), flanked by PRC volunteer Troy Kondo and Computer Training Associate (and former graduate) Tomas Llorence; and Sam (left).

PRC also launched LIFT UP SF – Lifting Up Peers for a Brighter Tomorrow – a 64-hour curriculum putting real life experience with mental health and substance use services to work for graduates as peer professionals across public health and social service fields. The first cohort just entered paid traineeships, the final step in advance of competitive employment placements at PRC and partner health agencies across San Francisco. The second cohort is double in size, with 15 students gaining competencies to put their lived experience to work advancing community health.

Graduate

For graduates like Phil (not pictured), opportunities like Next Step, Step Up, and LIFT UP SF are transformational. A longtime PRC client, Phil has overcome drug addiction and homelessness. Fifteen years ago, when he was newly diagnosed with HIV, Phil accessed PRC’s legal services to secure disability benefits. Most recently he’s moving forward with PRC workforce development. “I feel really good right now in my recovery; I’m mentally stable and poised to be able to go off of disability [benefits] and back into the workforce…But the highlight of [LIFT UP SF] is the overall realization that my life experience is worth something. I can connect with that person going down a certain pathhelp people who are drug addicted, homeless, and in health crisis to get from that place—from where I was stuck—to where I am now.”

“My objective is to find a place where I’m happy and a place to grow”

On top of skills-based training and practice in the lab, clients work with PRC specialists to accessed tailored supports in resume and cover letter writing, skills inventories, vocational assessments, interview preparation, and post-placement counseling. PRC partners with some of the largest employers in San Francisco including the University of California at San Francisco, the City and County of San Francisco, the State of California, Apple, Genentech, Target, H+R Block, Starbucks, Blue Apron, Hyatt, Genentech, Uber, Alaska Airlines, Salesforce, Apple, Old Navy, and Whole Foods. The average wage of clients placed in employment was $20.66 per hour in 2018, 38% higher than the local minimum wage.

Congratulations to all our participants and graduates! We’re proud to stand with you, moving forward.

Learn more about PRC’s Workforce Development trainings and services here or reach out about hiring partnerships and putting graduates to work for you.

Lift UP SF: A win-win-win for San Francisco

We’re proud to introduce a new pathway to personal and economic growth for the thousands of people overcoming mental health, HIV or substance use challenges each year in San Francisco. One of five California programs selected, the Office of Statewide Health Planning will invest nearly $500,000 over two years in PRC’s award winning workforce development model. The result? We’re scaling up a peer-to-peer occupational training pathway recently launched in partnership with San Francisco’s Department of Public Health. Lifting Up Peers for a Brighter Tomorrow or Lift UP SF is a win for consumers, a win for behavioral health services providers, and a win for San Francisco.

Lift UP SF readies consumers—people in and exiting mental health and substance use treatment programs, family members, and caregivers—to put their lived experience to use on a competitive career path. It spans a 64-hour comprehensive training curriculum designed by advocates and consumers, individualized placement support, and peer group services to prepare graduates for volunteer, part-time, and full-time peer positions in the most common health settings: Social and Human Service Assistants, Case Workers, Case Managers, Client Advocates, Family Self-Sufficiency Specialists, and Independent Living Specialists among others.

Leveraging the experience of people with lived experience in mental health, substance use, and public health systems doesn’t just make sense, it’s proven to result in better outcomes for consumers on both sides of the interaction.

Beyond professional skill delivery, peer specialists in health settings share the same vocabulary as those they help, have credibility, and embody an accessible vision of success. Paid or volunteer employment is also a key component of recovery from mental health and substance use disorders, particularly methamphetamine addiction. The act of going to training, getting placed in employment, and accessing a supportive community support throughout this process dramatically improves an individual’s ability to maintain their recovery.

This pathway is timely, right here and right now. San Francisco has very low unemployment (1.9%) overall, but prosperity and stability are not shared equitably across our community. A high cost of living, driven primarily by housing expenses, strains many long-time residents and the populations PRC serves. African Americans and other communities of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, people with disabilities, people with behavioral health disorders, and people living with HIV are overrepresented among the unemployed and have lower than average salaries, placing them at high risk for displacement and homelessness. People with lower incomes also have higher rates of mental health disorders.

It’s a circular argument Lift UP SF seeks to disrupt.

The training program specifically reaches into these under-employed consumer groups to provide more than a living wage. An increasing economic outlook seeds hope, and a career trajectory positions consumers—people like those exiting PRC’s 30/60/90 day treatment programs or in our co-op living around the city—to progress through the continuum of care and transition successfully to independent living.

As a result, not only do we expect to decrease unemployment among Bay Area residents impacted by mental illness, substance use disorder, and/or HIV/AIDS and to expedite treatment program exits making room for more people to access needed treatment services, Lift UP SF will develop a diverse, representative pool of qualified, culturally competent staff to help alleviate the worker shortage in behavioral health settings across San Francisco and beyond. PRC’s program launches with more than 17 partners—from Castro Country Club and the City of San Francisco Community Behavioral Health Services to Native American Health Center, Mission Neighborhood Health Center, and Alameda and Contra Costa County Behavioral Health Programs—already signed on and seeking to fill already identified peer staffing shortages across public mental health services.

Want to know more? Contact our Workforce Development team.
Want to contribute to support innovate solutions, like Lift UP SF? Donate here.
Keep Reading the Fall 2019 Frontline

Welcome to the Bare Chest Calendar Club

Did you know?

  • The Bare Chest Calendar has been around for 36 years
  • It has featured over 400 Calendar Men
  • And in that time, it has raised over $2,000,000!

You were likely a part of those successes at some point.

  • You may have supported a friend who was running for the Calendar.
  • You may have bought a few (or many) raffle tickets from a contestant.
  • You may have bought various “items” at auctions to support the Calendar.
  • You may have bought a Calendar (or two) and feasted on 12 months of Calendar Men!

THANK YOU!

Your support of the Bare Chest Calendar, Team BCC, PRC and our clients means so much to us that we have a surprise we think you’ll really like…

The Bare Chest Calendar Club

Sign up today. The Bare Chest Calendar Club is:

  • A new way that you can stay involved with the Bare Chest Calendar, the current Calendar Men, and our esteemed Calendar Alumni.
  • A monthly giving membership that gives you exclusive Bare Chest Calendar content not available to anyone outside the club.
  • A way to support the mission of PRC and our clients who are some of San Francisco’s most vulnerable citizens.

When you join the Bare Chest Calendar Club you make a monthly investment in supporting PRC’s clients and continue to strengthen the legacy of the Bare Chest Calendar!

This Club has Benefits.

Depending on which monthly giving level you join, your Club membership provides you with exclusive Bare Chest Calendar content.

Everyone who joins the Bare Chest Calendar Club, at any level, will receive:
  • A copy of the Bare Chest Calendar for the year following your membership date
  • A monthly email featuring an alternative image of the current month’s Bare Chest Calendar Man AND a picture of a Bare Chest Calendar Man from the past; and 
  • You can be on the Calendar, and you don’t have to bare your chest! Your name will appear on one of the pages of the next printed Bare Chest Calendar following the date you join the club.

   

Monthly Giving Levels range from $15 to $100 per month.  Read on for details.
$100/month
  • Personalized birthday video and eBirthday card featuring Calendar Men
  • 2 tickets to Bare Chest Calendar Finals occurring after your join date
  • Bolded name on calendar page in next print Calendar following membership join date
  • Monthly email featuring alternate images from current Calendar AND previous Calendar
  • Monthly newsletter with Calendar updates and additional content from Calendar Men
  • Bare Chest Calendar for the year following join date
$75/month
  • eBirthday card featuring Calendar Men
  • 2 tickets to Bare Chest Calendar Finals occurring after your join date
  • Bolded name on calendar page in next print Calendar following membership join date
  • Monthly email featuring alternate images from current Calendar AND previous Calendar
  • Monthly newsletter with Calendar updates and additional content from Calendar Men
  • Bare Chest Calendar for the year following join date
$50/month
  • eBirthday card featuring Calendar Men
  • 1 ticket to Bare Chest Calendar Finals occurring after your join date
  • Name on Calendar page in next print Calendar following membership join date
  • Monthly email featuring alternate images from current Calendar AND previous Calendar
  • Monthly newsletter with Calendar updates and additional content from Calendar Men
  • Bare Chest Calendar for the year following join date
$25/month
  • 1 ticket to Bare Chest Calendar Finals occurring after your join date
  • Name on Calendar page in next print Calendar following membership join date
  • Monthly email featuring alternate images from current Calendar AND previous Calendar
  • Monthly newsletter with Calendar updates and additional content from Calendar Men
  • Bare Chest Calendar for the year following join date
$15/month
  • Name on Calendar page in next print Calendar following membership join date
  • Monthly email featuring alternate images from current Calendar AND previous Calendar
  • Monthly newsletter with Calendar updates and additional content from Calendar Men
  • Bare Chest Calendar for the year following join date

Open enrollment to join the Bare Chest Calendar Club ends on 10/31/2019, Halloween, so join the Club now to secure your spot!

AND everyone who joins before the end of open enrollment on 10/31/2019 will be included in a raffle to win 2 VIP tickets to the 2020 Big Muscle Party during Up Your Alley weekend!

Join the Bare Chest Calendar Club Now! 

It’s a Wrap!

Our hearts are full, and our doors are open! With your generosity, PRC’s Chair the Love campaign raised $36,310.

 

          

We are grateful. Time and again you show up for PRC and our clients.

Through Chair the Love, you helped furnish our clients’ experience during their journey toward better health, stable housing, and income growth within PRC’s new Integrated Service Center. Every step of the way, from their inital Client Services meeting through planning their next steps with an Employment Specialist, your support helps the over 5,000 adults living with HIV/AIDS, mental health, and substance use issues on their path to wellness each year.

But that’s not the end.

      

PRC has always been about community. Stay tuned for neighborhood and training events hosted at our community hub at 170 9th Street. Get updates: sign up for our newsletter and blogs, and follow us on social media for updates.

Together, we are changing lives and building community.

 

I am an avid supporter of PRC. Here’s why.

As much as I can define myself as a happily married man, an engaged member of the San Francisco design community and an endlessly curious student of the human condition, I also would like to think that I am a responsible citizen of The City where I have lived for over 40 years.

Like many of us, I am seriously concerned about the problems that are facing our town right now. I believe that our city government is sincere in wrestling with these challenges but government can’t do it alone. Nor should they be expected to. That’s why I support PRC.

Starting with the AIDS crisis in the 1980’s, PRC learned that action is more important than words in making a difference in a person’s life. And in many cases, saving a person’s life. These were hard learned lessons but they did it with a no-nonsense approach tempered with compassion.

I love that they have now expanded that commitment to the issues of people who are also struggling with homelessness, addiction, mental illness, and having a healthy sense of their own self-worth. Regardless of how they define themselves. And PRC is doing this every day. They are not waiting for anyone’s permission or approval to do what they know has to be done. That is what makes real heroes and heroines.

I am thrilled that from their new Integrated Service Center, they will now serve our community with greater impact. I support PRC, and was happy to support them financially to underwrite the furnishings in this unique facility through their Chair the Love campaign. I invite everyone reading this to do the same. As responsible citizens we owe it to our City, ourselves and all those folks who need our help.

 

Tom DiRenzo

A&D Director, CRI