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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

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CISCO: Homeless for a Night – Chicago’s Sleep Out


Homeless for a Night – Chicago’s Sleep Out


March 6, 2018 - 5 Comments
I love the way the city of Chicago glows at night – it’s beautiful enough for me to forget about the miserable traffic I just sat through to get here. Chicago has brought me into its skyline for a multitude of reasons over the years from client meetings, sporting events, concerts, to dining – The Windy City always impresses.
But, tonight is different.

Tonight, I am homeless.

It’s easy to become hypnotized by the beauty of the city when you’re in it.  Moving quickly from location to location, with so much going on around you, it’s almost normal to just fall into the fold and be swept away. In the mix of that beauty, however, is a very real problem – one there’s no ignoring.  People are living on the streets, bundled up to do their best to stay warm, with signs telling you their stories and asking for some help.
I’ve seen them – we probably all have.  They are Chicago’s homeless.  And until I volunteered to sleep out, I didn’t realize that homeless also included youths.
During my short time at Cisco, we have been able to give back to our community in many different ways.  Some have been as simple as donating money or even a coat, but there have other opportunities for Cisconians to give back that take a little more action.  We have assisted with building homes with Habitat for Humanity, cleaned and cooked meals for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House, and prepped food for those in need at the Northern Illinois Food Bank.
But never in my time here at Cisco had I seen an opportunity to give back quite like The Sleep Out.
The night began with us meeting as a group outside the Covenant House of Illinois, this is where we began our candle light vigil.  We heard from a young lady who had previously been homeless as a youth and who had also been helped by the wonderful folks at the Covenant House.  Her story was inspiring.
From there we made our way over to St. James Cathedral where we spent the next couple of hours understanding the true mission of Covenant House. After previewing portions of a yet to be released documentary, and listening to story after story – we were now aware of why this cause is so important, and who it effects.
Each story brought us closer to our night out in the elements. Finally, we were homeless.
We grabbed our sleeping bags.  We grabbed our cardboard.  And we found a spot to claim for the Cisco crew.  We lucked out when it came to the weather – it could have been so much worse on a mid-November night in Chicago.  The night before our sleep out had been really windy – which would have made for a really long and tough night. The night following our sleep out? Chicago saw complete downpours.
Want to work for a company that gives back? We’re hiring – Apply now!
A few of us couldn’t quite fall asleep right away, so we roamed the city a little bit.  As we walked the city, we found the real homeless of Chicago sleeping in different parts of the city trying to stay warm.  After a little while, we headed back to our own sleeping bags to try getting a few hours of rest.
It was odd sleeping outside in the big city.  At around 3AM a large dog walked by us with its owner barking as it went by.  Sirens could be heard all throughout the night.  It was about 5:30AM when we woke up and started packing up our things.  During that time, we heard stories of some of our teammates who couldn’t sleep at all.  Someone had picked up hot breakfast sandwiches and we shared them with the homeless people we had seen earlier that evening sleeping on the streets.  At one point, we were able to provide a homeless man with shoes. The shoes he had were way too big and not even close to being warm enough.
For all of us who participated in the #CHILSleepOut, we were able to plan and shop for our one night of homelessness.  We also knew that once we woke up, it would be over for us.  But after this experience, we are different.  I am different.  I have a different appreciation for the things in my life that I may have taken for granted before.  And more importantly, I have a different appreciation for those I have in my life.

Three things I learned by participating in Sleep Out

  1. The homeless can be youths. I think we all make the assumption that issues like homelessness only impact adults as that is usually who we encounter on city streets.  But that certainly isn’t the case. Kids are affected by homelessness, too.
  2. Homelessness can occur to anyone at any time. I learned this first hand from a member of the Covenant House.  She lived in a well to do neighborhood and attended very fine public schools.  When her mother died, that all changed.
  3. We can make a difference. We really can.  Maybe not an immediate global impact but we can make a difference by helping one person at a time, one kind act at a time.  I have always believed this but every time I volunteer and give back, it gets reinforced.
I am so grateful to work for a company like Cisco for so many reasons, but one that always stands out is in how we are encouraged and empowered to give back and help our local and global communities.

Monday, May 6, 2019

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UCSF Launches New Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative with $30M Gift




Campus News  May 1, 2019
UCSF Launches New Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative with $30M Gift
Marc and Lynne Benioff’s Donation Will Create First-of-Its-Kind Initiative to Research Causes of Homelessness, Identify Evidence-based Solutions

By Laura Kurtzman

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Made possible by a $30 million gift from Marc and Lynne Benioff, UC San Francisco on Wednesday announced the launch of the UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative, a new center in San Francisco that will conduct groundbreaking research on the root causes of homelessness and identify evidence-based solutions to prevent and end homelessness. Margot Kushel, MD, professor of medicine at UCSF and director of the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations (CVP), will lead the initiative.

The Benioffs’ gift is the largest-ever private donation to fund homelessness research.

San Francisco, along with countless cities across the country, is experiencing a homelessness crisis. According to the 2017 annual Homelessness Point-in-Time report, approximately 7,500 people are homeless in San Francisco, 58 percent of whom are unsheltered. Rising housing costs and income inequality are leading to more people, including families and older adults, entering homelessness for the first time.

homeless encampment lining a San Francisco street
A homeless encampment lining a street in downtown San Francisco. Photo by Shannon Badiee via Creative Commons
The first-of-its-kind initiative, which will be part of the CVP, will convene experts from various fields to conduct rigorous academic research on homelessness and housing issues, identify evidence-based solutions and train the next generation of homelessness researchers. The initiative will complement and integrate research being conducted by faculty and researchers across the university.

The initiative will also democratize this world-class academic research, making it an easily accessible resource for policy makers and community leaders across the country seeking solutions to end homelessness in their own neighborhoods.

Comments on the Initiative
“The world needs a North Star for truth on homelessness. The UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative will be that North Star, providing the latest research, data and evidence-based solutions to ensure we’re investing in programs that will help solve the homelessness crisis.”
—Marc Benioff

portrait of Margot Kushel
Margot Kushel, MD, will lead the UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative.
“There is no medicine as powerful as housing. But the problem is complex. We know a lot about how to end homelessness, but that knowledge doesn’t always reach policymakers and is often not properly targeted. We have far more to learn about designing the most effective ways to prevent and end homelessness.”
—Margot Kushel, MD, initiative director

“We have designed this initiative to have real-world impact, first in San Francisco, then statewide and, ultimately we hope, on a national scale. We intend to be a resource for everyone who has a genuine interest in solving homelessness, whether they are elected officials, policymakers, advocates, concerned citizens or people who have experienced homelessness themselves.”
—Joshua Bamberger, MD, MPH, initiative associate director

“Despite all the wealth in this country, especially in our own region, perhaps the gravest threats to health are due to poverty, discrimination, and particularly homelessness. Here at UCSF, we have many dedicated researchers who have devoted their careers to addressing these health inequities. The Benioffs’ continued leadership on these issues, exemplified by this generous new gift, will further energize our efforts, and strengthen our links to communities in need at the local, state and national levels.”
—UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS

“Homelessness isn’t just a Bay Area issue – it touches every community in California. Our entire state and nation have much to gain from this work. Marc and Lynne have been leaders in this space, and this generous investment will help fuel the search for solutions and further develop best practices to help those who are homeless improve their lives.”
—California Governor Gavin Newsom

“Preventing and ending homelessness requires innovative solutions that can be replicated regionally, statewide, and nationally. No one city alone can address homelessness, which is why this initiative by Lynne and Marc Benioff and UC San Francisco will be a great tool for helping us here in San Francisco and in cities all over confront one of our greatest challenges.”
—San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed

“Marc and Lynne Benioff’s empathy and commitment to our most vulnerable residents should serve as inspiration for everyone working to end homelessness. Their relentless effort and passion has already uplifted countless lives, and this latest investment will help all of us understand the root causes that lead to homelessness as well as potential solutions. On behalf of a community who will greatly benefit from Marc and Lynne’s generous gift, Oakland looks forward to partnering with the UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative.”
—Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf

Gifts to Homelessness Issues, Children’s Health
With this new gift to UCSF, Marc and Lynne Benioff have now pledged $66 million to prevent and end homelessness in San Francisco. Most recently, they pledged $6.1 million to renovate the Bristol Hotel to add 58 units of housing in San Francisco. The Benioffs also donated $11.5 million to Hamilton Families’ Heading Home Campaign, co-founded Star Community Home, and supported other organizations including Raphael House, Larkin Street Youth Services and Catholic Charities. They also contributed $2 million to the “Yes on C” campaign to pass Proposition C in San Francisco, which will earmark up to $300 million in new tax revenues to address homelessness.

In addition to their work on homelessness, the Benioffs have a long history of supporting children’s health care. Since 2005, the couple has pledged more than $389 million to UCSF, including $200 million in support of the Benioff Children’s Hospitals in San Francisco and Oakland and $50 million to launch the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals Preterm Birth Initiative in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Of this total giving, they recently allocated $15 million to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland to address the acute shortage of mental health services for children and adolescents in Oakland and the East Bay.

UC San Francisco (UCSF) is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. It includes top-ranked graduate schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy; a graduate division with nationally renowned programs in basic, biomedical, translational and population sciences; and a preeminent biomedical research enterprise. It also includes UCSF Health, which comprises three top-ranked hospitals – UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals in San Francisco and Oakland – as well as Langley Porter Psychiatric Hospital and Clinics, UCSF Benioff Children’s Physicians and the UCSF Faculty Practice. UCSF Health has affiliations with hospitals and health organizations throughout the Bay Area. UCSF faculty also provide all physician care at the public Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, and the SF VA Medical Center. The UCSF Fresno Medical Education Program is a major branch of the University of California, San Francisco’s School of Medicine.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

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CrossCheck Giving to COTS Reaches Five Tons of Turkey

News and Press Releases

CrossCheck Giving to COTS Reaches Five Tons of Turkey

Posted by Joe Gargiulo on Fri, Nov 18, 2016 @ 01:41 PM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEcrosscheck

Petaluma, Calif. (November 18, 2016) — CrossCheck, a leading provider of check processing services in the nation, has donated 85 turkeys to COTS (Committee on the Shelterless) to feed hundreds in the community on Thanksgiving Day at the Petaluma Kitchen. This is the sixth consecutive year that CrossCheck employees have participated in the program, bringing the total weight of turkey contributions to nearly 10,000 pounds since 2011. 
COTS provides over 300 meals every day and 350 food boxes every week to families, adults, veterans and disabled members of the community. This steady supply of nutritious food allows people to avoid making a difficult choice between buying food and paying their rent. 
crosscheck“On behalf of everyone at CrossCheck, we sincerely hope our contributions enable those in need to have a more enjoyable holiday season,” said President and CEO J. David Siembieda. “COTS and the Petaluma Kitchen set a wonderful example of community giving and we are happy to participate once again.”
In other community service, employees have assisted victims of national disasters through the American Red Cross and the company’s independent efforts. They also support the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program and the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. In 2015 and 2016, donations were distributed to help victims of hurricanes, earthquakes and a tsunami as well as victims of the North Texas tornado and the Valley Fire in nearby Lake County, California.

About COTS

Located in Petaluma, California, the Committee on the Shelterless (COTS) is a human services organization that facilitates housing for families, adults and military veterans as well as wellness and food programs for the local community. COTS was founded in 1988 as an expression of Mary Isaak’s and Laure Reichek’s concern for children and adults who were sleeping outdoors in culverts, dumpsters or other unsafe and unsuitable conditions. Visit www.cots-homeless.org  or call 707-765-6530 for more information or to learn about volunteer opportunities.

About CrossCheck

CrossCheck, Inc., an established leader in the payment solutions industry, processes billions in check-transaction dollars annually throughout the United States. Since 1983, it has helped increase profits and reduce risk for businesses in verticals such as automotive, auto aftermarket, building materials, home furnishings, specialty retail, medical-dental and veterinary by providing efficient and affordable check verification, guarantee and conversion services. CrossCheck’s suite of services includes check conversion technology, web-based transactions, remote deposit capture and premium products for specific industries and applications. The company has offices in Petaluma, California and Irving, Texas.

###

Contact

Andrew Donahey
Phone: 707-665-2100, ext. 9503
Email: andrewd@cross-check.com

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

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One San Francisco agency has become a successful




San Francisco agency providing housing, supportive services to help get people off the streets





How do you get homeless people off the streets? One agency in San Francisco says it's all about providing housing with supportive services. It's a successful model that could be a pilot for the nation.

"When my daughter was 15, I became homeless. She ended up in the foster care system," said Katherine Wolfe, a Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation Community Organizer.

RELATED: City of San Francisco receives $415-million windfall, large portion slated to fight homelessness

"I used to get hurt out there, whatever I was doing, smoking whatever I was doing. People around me, we were all doing it. That became a life," said Deborah Copes, TNDC Community Organizer.

Wolfe and Copes are now off the streets and living positive, productive lives thanks to safe, low-income housing through the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation, or TNDC for short. It also provides a variety of services to support residents in different ways.

Growing fresh food is a key part of TNDC's mission.

"I got involved with this garden here, the People's Garden," said Wolfe.

Wolfe met us at a thriving urban garden on Larkin Street in San Francisco. It's in the shadow of City Hall. She told us about her terrible struggle with homelessness after she became chronically ill with asthma.

Gardening helped ease her depression.

The TNDC community garden not only offers participants fresh, nutritious food, but it also teaches them how to work together and help build a sense of family.

"Having access to fresh produce is rough out here in the Tenderloin and affordable produce. So being able to provide it for free, that's irreplaceable," said Kamillah Galofin, TNDC health and wellness program manager.

There are also roof gardens at many of the TNDC buildings and more gardens and wall gardens are planned.

TNDC gave Galofin a concept to implement-- Consider housing as "health care."

"Health is what we're going to commit to. What are we doing about access to healthy food, what are we doing about the environment we're creating, the community event we're creating, the social interactions, the support."

RELATED: San Jose unveils tiny house prototype as vote on pilot program nears

"TNDC is a great place where it's more than housing. They have this great component about them. They will have social workers on site. They have a community organizing department that goes out and gets the community involved in different things," said Wolfe.

"I try to help people speak up for their rights, try to help people see it's time to get educated about what's going on around them," said Copes.

Copes and Wolfe became actively involved in TNDC as community organizers. They are among many residents who are trained through TNDC to be advocates for the people in their buildings and other social issues.

TNDC has an afterschool program for children, called the Tenderloin After School Program. Kids can get tutoring, enjoy after-school activities, or go on college tours. There are programs for senior citizens as well.

"We have a whole healthy aging focus area that provides activities from workshops, to chronic disease, diabetes to fall prevention, to fitness activities, tai chi and brain fitness," said Galofin.

"TNDC is a model that can be replicated," said Don Falk, the executive director of TNDC. "Homelessness is something we do the answer to if we can find the political will to address it."

Falk added, "The answer to homelessness is homes. TNDC now owns and operates 40 properties, all of them permanently affordable. Most of the homes are occupied by people with incomes under a thousand dollars a month."

TNDC now houses more than 6,000 people in some 3,500 affordable homes with supportive services. And the residents are not just surviving-- they are thriving, thanks to TNDC's multi-layered approach.

"TNDC is my family. They gave me my life back. If I don't get it together, that's on me. I got a chance," said Copes.

"I'm much happier now, I'm much more at peace, much more confident," said Wolfe.

RELATED: Dozens of SJSU students camp out to highlight homelessness

Falk said he invites the business community to join him in finding ways to end the homelessness problem in San Francisco. It could be as simple as organizing a community garden in an available space.

For more information, you can check out the TNDC website.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

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Kushner Companies buying former home of Homeless Man in Walnut Creek CA

Kushner Companies offers to buy Park Avenue co-op for $250M

13-story building at 417 Park could be replaced with larger tower thanks to Midtown East rezoning
 
 
 
 
April 23, 2018 08:45AM

Charlie Kushner and 417 Park Avenue
Kushner Companies has offered to buy the luxury co-op building at 417 Park Avenue for $250 million, a new report claims.
The co-op board at the 13-floor, 26-unit apartment building met on March 28 to discuss a “letter of interest” from Kushner offering to buy all 10,000 apartment shares, the New York Post reported.
The price breaks down to an average of $8.9 million per apartment.
Representatives from Billy Macklowe’s William Macklowe Company also approached the board, according to the Post.
Representatives for Kushner and Macklowe declined to comment.
The Emery Roth-designed building at the southeast corner of 55th Street was until recently the only residential address on Park Avenue between Grand Central Terminal and 57th Street, having survived the wave of office construction that took over the area.
It’s not impossible to buy a residential co-op from its owners, but there are challenges. Most co-ops require 100 percent of the unit owners to agree on a sale and price. But 417 Parkonly requires a 67 percent majority to green light a sale, insiders told the Post.
Several bidders in past decades have offered to buy the building, but now the Midtown East rezoning would allow a new owner to replace the property with a much larger building.
Kushner Companies, meanwhile, is in talks to buy Vornado Realty Trust’s stake at 666 Fifth Avenue, the struggling office tower that lost $25 million last year and has a $1.2 billion mortgage coming due in February.
The company is also under scrutiny from federal, state and city agencies looking into allegations of improper financing and potentially false rent stabilization filings with the city’s Department of Buildings. [NYP] – Rich Bockmann

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