THE CENTER OF THEIR UNIVERSE
2019 annual report
Message from Our CEO
Greetings and enormous gratitude to every one
of you who has made a gift to Pomeroy
in the past fiscal year!
It occurred to me recently that through all its names -
Recreation Center for the Handicapped, Janet Pomeroy Center,
Pomeroy Recreation & Rehabilitation Center – the word “center” has stuck. This is no accident.
Thanks to your generosity, Pomeroy remains a true community center for people with and without disabilities.
But it is more than that. Over the past year Pomeroy has become the hub - the center -
that connects San Franciscans to the things they need – housing, food, education, employment, exercise, friendship, culture.
Whether we have been providing emergency housing, permanent housing, home-delivered groceries, cooking or money management classes, job training, swim classes, public concerts, or supporting social connection, hundreds of people could describe the Pomeroy Center as the center of their universe.
This Annual Report describes all the ways you have had impact on your community through your giving to Pomeroy over the past year. If you want to see it with your own eyes, please don’t hesitate to contact me for a tour of the Pomeroy Center or one of our two new residential homes.
You are the reason Pomeroy can continue to be the “center” for so many – thank you!
CEO David Dubinsky soaks up the sun with William "Bobo" Higdon
Youth Education & Job Training
works in progress
There is a group of Pomeroy participants now receiving new customized OneCenter services. Pomeroy’s AfterSchool Program serves individuals age 5 to 22, providing occupational therapy, speech therapy, behavioral support - along with fun and friendship to 80 young people throughout the year. Our new Transition Program, held during after school hours, caters to the oldest students in that group.
In the past, if these young people wanted to graduate into our adult programs, they would pre-apply and get qualified for services and, once they passed their 22nd birthday, would start attending the adult day program.
The transition wasn’t always smooth. After a decade with the same staff, the same rooms, and the same peers, these participants would sometimes shut down or act out. We realized that it didn’t need to be that hard - we could help them make the transition with more support.
Launched in January 2019, our new Transition Program provides an opportunity for 20 to 22-year-olds to gradually experience the adult programming we offer. They are eligible to join our adult daytime programs starting at 18, but we generally encourage them to stay in their school’s program as long as possible. Pomeroy Adult Services Program Manager Melissa Trujillo says, “Your (financial) aid goes away if you leave the school district - all the supports like occupational or speech therapy.”
Trujillo notes that the need for this type of transition program at Pomeroy is relatively new. These young people, unlike the older adults we serve, have been in special ed classes their whole lives. “They have grown up with more supports, so many of them have developed more skills than they would have a decade or so ago,” she stated.
High schools like Lowell and Balboa offer programs during the school day for older students with developmental disabilities and this often includes employment training and placement. Students often will get their first jobs through these important school programs. However, transition age clients who require ongoing support or need to learn daily living skills may not be interested in working. We offer programming for them, too.
This semester, 12 to 18 of the students in the Transition Program will join OneCenter classes at 2 pm, classes like swimming, cooking, computer lab - whatever they are interested in. They will be supported by their familiar staff from the Children & Teens Program as they meet and get comfortable with new spaces, new peers, and new staff.
OneCenter Program is so popular it has an actual waiting list. we give enrollment priority to participants moving from the Children & Teens Program, providing consistency and taking advantage of these young people’s natural momentum. We recently enrolled 15 new participants, nine of whom were “graduating” from our Transition Program. Some students may choose to move on to another program, like the Arc of San Francisco or City College, and some may move directly into employment. But for those with higher needs, Pomeroy is the right place to continue to learn and develop.
The transition from youth to adulthood can be tumultuous for any one of us. At Pomeroy, our young adults need guidance in making choices they continually will benefit from in a variety of situations. Your support of Pomeroy allows our staff to evaluate and address the changing needs of our participants, and meet those needs head on!
Exercising For Life
bodies in motion
Pomeroy is not a fitness center, but it is a place where participants - and many San Franciscans! - get their exercise to stay healthy.
Classes in yoga and chair ballet increase balance, flexibility, and strength for folks who may get no additional exercise at all when they go home. Walking groups stroll alongside Lake Merced, getting fresh air, enjoying nature, and saying hello to other neighbors out for a walk.
Pomeroy’s aquatics program is the most public-facing of our programs - for many San Franciscans, the pool is where they learned to swim or where they continue to heal from life’s aches and pains. As many as 2,000 people a year use the Pomeroy pool.
For Bonnie Peterson and her family, the pool has long been their second home. Bonnie, 55, has Downs syndrome and grew up at Pomeroy. In 1967, at the age of 3, she started attending programs at the “Rec Center”’s first home, the Fleishhacker Pool Building.
It was in the current pool at Pomeroy that Bonnie mastered swimming, earning a gold medal in the Special Olympics. (She also captured additional awards in weightlifting - she could deadlift 165 pounds when she only weighed 75).
Bonnie’s mother, Jeanne Peterson, recalls that when they installed the pool in the new building, it was exclusively for Pomeroy clients. However, she says, “The neighborhood wanted in! So, finally, the neighbors were allowed in for Friday night family swim.” She remembers that one “family” would arrive with 11 kids. “We knew they were cheating!” she says, laughing.
Bonnie’s sister, Billie Jean, worked at the Pomeroy Center for years, starting out as a volunteer and then working her way through different departments until she ended up as a swim instructor in the pool. Jeanne says, “Billie learned to care for Bonnie at Pomeroy!”
Jeanne’s husband had passed away in 1986 and when Jeanne retired from her job at an OB/GYN’s office, she was casting about for some volunteer work. Out of the blue, she remembers getting a call from Billie in the pool office, saying, “Mom, you’ve gotta get out here and help me. The phones are ringing off the hook!”
That was when Jeanne began volunteering in the office, answering phones, helping with registrations and keeping files and records organized. It is now 20 years later, and she’s still doing it. Every weekday, you can see Jeanne walking briskly around Lake Merced, listening to the radio on her headphones, ending up at the Pomeroy Center where she slides into her seat in the Aquatics office, ready to do data entry or whatever they need.
Billie doesn’t work at Pomeroy anymore and Bonnie no longer attends regular programs. That doesn’t means they have stopped using the pool, though! At least once weekly, Billie brings Bonnie to Pomeroy, wheeling her in to change into her swimsuit and get in the warm water. Bonnie has developed Alzheimer’s and has lost a good bit of her memory with it.
She definitely knows what it means, though, when Billie or Jeanne say, “We’re going out to the Rec Center!” It means they are going to Pomeroy’s pool, a favorite spot.
great [pool] news!
Whether you are someone like Bonnie or Billie using the pool,
or maybe a mom bringing her baby for swim class, you have
been watching the condition of the Women’s Changing Room
decline over the past several years. The tile is old, the ventilation
and drainage aren’t great, there’s no place to stash your swim bag,
the doors aren’t automatic - the list goes on.
Thanks to your generous support, that is about to change. We put out the call for help at our Banner of Love benefit, urging gifts to support renovating the changing room. And give you did - your donations totaled more than $61,000!
Work will take place during an extended closure around the holidays. Get ready for a new and improved experience at the Pomeroy Pool, brought to you by ... YOU!
Jeanne and Bonnie Peterson today
Eric cannot wait to dig in to this tasty meal
Partnering With Project Open Hand
food for thought
When you have enough food, you don’t need to think about it.
But when you are food insecure, you are never sure whether you
will have enough. For those of us with our own bank accounts,
our own income, our main worry is budgeting so we can cover
our expenses. But what if your only income is SSI? Or if you
don’t have your own bank account?
Then you have to rely on whoever takes care of you. Just over a year ago, several program staff approached Pomeroy leadership, asking whether we could revive the hot lunch program. Years ago, Pomeroy provided a hot lunch for all participants every day, but that became too expensive to continue.
Also, for our adults in group homes, or “board and care” homes, the caregivers are required to provide three meals a day. For a number of years, this is how things worked. Lunchtime would roll around and everyone got out their lunch boxes.
Some participants came with substantial, nutritious meals that they enjoyed. Staff noticed, though, when they didn’t. One participant would come every day with the exact same bologna sandwich on white bread. Another regularly came with just a bag of Doritos or a single serving of Jello. Another might come with nothing at all.
Staff contacted homes when this happened, but little changed, so staff would gather items from the kitchen and borrow from afternoon snack supplies to put together a lunch for these clients.
This finally became too much for long-time staff member Larry Morales, who approached administrative staff asking if there was any way to raise funds to bring back the hot lunch program, “I just always thought it'd be a great program to start. Nice healthy food, something different every day.” Morales, who also has an Aunt in our adult day program, said, “I remember when I was a child, I'd come [visit Pomeroy] and Rose (Green - former Pomeroy kitchen staff) used to make the hot lunches. I was wondering why it didn't happen anymore.”
Coincidentally, at that very time, the Center’s leadership had recently been approached by Project Open Hand, an important San Francisco nonprofit that operates congregate lunch sites for needy seniors throughout the City. Project Open Hand wanted to open a lunch site at Pomeroy and, after consultation with Pomeroy program staff, Pomeroy’s CEO David Dubinsky agreed to the partnership.
During the first few weeks of the program, fewer than 20 participants enrolled and it wasn’t clear whether it would succeed. But over the next month or so, as clients smelled the freshly cooked and healthy hot meals rolling by on carts to program rooms, we began to get many inquiries. “Can I have some?” “How do I sign up for that?”
Susie, one of the participants who benefits from the lunches, could hardly contain her delight when Morales served her lunch on the first day. There was so much food on the plate - and it was all for her! She beamed and clapped her hands like she was getting a huge birthday gift. “When Project Open Hand started serving lunch, the participants were so happy - and so full,” relates Morales, “And just the fact that they could eat something every day and they knew that they would have something … our participants were over the moon.”
Now, just over one year since its launch, the hot lunch program serves nearly 100 adults at Pomeroy. These individuals are now guaranteed to get at least one nutritious meal a day, a huge improvement in their health and their lives.
HOW YOU HELPED MAKE THIS HAPPEN FOR OUR FRIENDS IN NEED
Your support allows us to be here and advocate for the folks we serve, no matter what they need. The more success we achieve, the more others see the value in the work we do - and want to be a part of this winning team. We appreciate your generosity no matter what form it takes - cold hard cash or warm delicious lasagna.
Susie shines thanks to nutritional lunches at Pomeroy!
Facebook Fundraisers Work!
friends with [social] benefits
Since August 2017, Facebook has made it easy for users
to start fundraisers for the causes that they care about.
From Forbes.com: “All you need to do is pick a nonprofit
from a pool of +750,000 organizations (yes, three zeroes)
and in a few, easy steps you can ask your friends to throw
in a buck to make the world a better place.”
Actually, it really is. In FY2019, 17 people made the decision to tell the world about Pomeroy,
and ask for their support of our programs and services. We appreciate you sharing our story
with your social network - that alone is priceless. Remember that old commercial about,
“... and they told two friends, and they told two friends?” It's just like that, well almost ....
The fundraisers do require some work on your part - you have to invite friends to it, share it in your feed (repeatedly) and groups [if ok’d by moderator] -- and communicate gratitude to your donors! One of the challenges of Facebook fundraisers is the receiving organization does not get your donor’s contact info directly, so we really appreciate the stellar job you do acknowledging their gifts on our behalf! On the upside, you can assure your friends we won’t be adding them our mailing lists, unless of course, they would like to be!
At the beginning, Facebook took a fairly standard 5 percent fee on every donation. However, in November 2017, it abolished the fee and now 100 percent of donations made through the platform go directly to the selected nonprofits.
If you want to try out your own Facebook fundraiser for Pomeroy, simply log into your Facebook account then go to https://www.facebook.com/fund/PRRCSF/ and follow the short steps to start raising funds from friends and family today. If you let us know, we’ll help promote it as well - we love setting people up for success!
We never know what is going to inspire someone to make a gift to Pomeroy - or organize a fundraiser on our behalf. We are so grateful for supporters wanting to fundraise among their own circle of friends, we never judge whether you make your goal or not! We reached out to some of our Facebook Fundraiser Friends willing to share their story:
Ruth Louise Turley Salinas
I always want to support my son’s favorite place. I think my family donated - $300 - and I did not expect it at all. It made me proud of the family and friends to support us and Pomeroy.
I'm glad to help PRRC in any way I can! The Pomeroy Center does so much to help the most vulnerable people in society, including my son. I feel that the Center provides a safe place for him and his peers across the lifespan to feel comfortable in their own skin as there are so few places for them in the community. Pomeroy is a safe haven and gem in that sense. Not only does it seem to be a happy diverse place of people well cared for, with more similarities than differences, they have many opportunities for Inclusion to integrate the neighbouring communities with the aquatic center, festivals, and other events. These are just a few yet important reasons why The Pomeroy Center is an obvious choice for making donations for me.
Wish I raised more but I'm grateful to those who helped with $245. I know that one friend who donated is financially tight and so it just means so much more that she would make a donation to a cause that's near and dear to my heart! I'm extra grateful for her contribution to know that there are people with less means who have great hearts.
Rachel Kehaulani Lownds
I decided to do FB's birthday fundraiser for the first time this year, and I chose Pomeroy because you all have become such a huge and vital resource in my family's life. My daughter attends the Saturday respite program in the Children & Teens department, and also summer camp! Pomeroy's Saturday program has given my family a sense of normalcy, a safe, fun place for my daughter to spend the day and time for my son to have one on one attention from my husband and I. The FB fundraiser was great, I was thrilled to raise $500! I plan to do this again next year, for Pomeroy. You guys are so fantastic, thanks so much for all you do!
there's no place like home
by Christy Lai and Esther Landau
Where you lay your head at night is so important. For individuals living in board and care homes, life can change dramatically overnight.
On September 7, 2018, we received an urgent call asking the Pomeroy Center to help house six adults with developmental disabilities. These individuals, including three Pomeroy Center clients, were now homeless after the Attorney General abruptly closed three group homes in Pacifica and Daly City, following reports that the managers of those group homes were involved in human trafficking and other illegal activities.
While the Pomeroy Center has accommodations for overnight guests in our weekend Respite Program, we lacked the staffing to support them on weeknights. But there was no question that we would step up to the plate, and do what we could to support these displaced individuals. A request was put out for staff willing to spend nights on-site at the center, to support our new guests - within an hour, more than a dozen staff offered to help.
Vans began to arrive with our new guests and their worldly possessions stuffed into dozens of trash bags - it was a sobering image. Staff made and served dinner for our guests, helped them prepare for bed, and generally tried to make everyone feel comfortable, safe, and cared for.
Within a few days, our guests had settled in and were enjoying their time at the center. The community responded as well, stepping up to bring home-cooked dinners for our guests every night, showing their love and compassion for our displaced friends. SI math teacher and golf coach John DeBenedetti immediately put out the word to the St. Ignatius community and numerous families leaped into action, making lasagna, chicken, salads, fresh cookies, and more. Many other community members answered the call, too.
The Pomeroy Center served as emergency housing for these guests over the next two months, until they were able to secure housing in the community once again.
Thank you to everyone who poured their hearts into supporting Pomeroy’s guests. They are all doing well now and deeply appreciate your generosity.
social safety net? yes please!
Along with the death of a loved one and divorce, moving is often among the most stressful of life events. Even if you have time to get used to the idea, it can still be traumatic.
People running board and care homes may simply become too old or infirm themselves to continue providing the service. If the individual has been living with family, it may just be time for them to move out and become more independent.
But without access to affordable housing, people with developmental disabilities are unable to make a successful transition from living in the family home to living in their own homes in the community. And, as an estimated two-thirds of adults with developmental disabilities live at home with aging family members and limited personal income, the death of a parent could also easily leave them with no place to live.
Even if you are already living in a group home, picture being born and raised in San Francisco and then suddenly having no option at the age of 60 but to move to Novato into a new home - and a new day program - with complete strangers. Even without a disability, how would you feel?
Finding affordable housing in San Francisco is difficult for anybody, more so for an individual with developmental disabilities. More and more group homes are closing and no new ones are opening in this crazy housing market.
To address this critical need, over the past year, the Pomeroy Center has partnered with Helpers Community to reopen two beautiful residential homes on Fulton Street, right across from Golden Gate Park. Helpers had operated these group homes in the past but staffing challenges forced their closure in 2002.
The first home opened in January 2019 and the second one in June 2019. Together, the two homes can house 10 individuals, people who would have otherwise had to leave San Francisco.
As a donor to the Pomeroy Center, you helped make all of this possible. Thank you for creating a sense of home - and a REAL home - for individuals with disabilities!
Girl Scouts share a meal with our temporary guests
Helpers' Executive staff and Fulton St residents celebrate re-opening these wonderful houses for our friends with disabilities.
Social Connections at Pomeroy
an abundance of joy
Whether it is a night out with friends or visits with loved ones while on the mend, connecting with your community enriches life immeasurably. Pomeroy participants, and people with disabilities in general, often lack the freedom and mobility to make contact with folks outside their day program or group home social circles,
and rarely on their own time. In addition to teaching life
skills and helping our friends get exercise and make healthy
choices, we find it essential to support our friends’
Love happens, and so does life. When a couple of Pomeroy Adult
Day Services Seniors became an actual couple, it warmed our hearts.
Ron and Diana can often be seen holding hands, deep in private
conversations, or strolling about the grounds laughing and smiling.
Recently, Diana, one of our long-time participants, took a tumble
at home and ended up at the hospital for a few days. Pomeroy
staffer Joe Bazouzi took Ron to visit her, and shared a photo of their
joyful reunion. "I've never seen a love like this before,” said Joe.
“IV tubes were flying all over the place, tears of joy
flowing, and alarms from Diana's hospital bed were going off! She literally dragged Ron and threw him onto the hospital bed with her. Nurses came rushing in. It was beautiful."
Brian lives to dance. There is ballet class with our on-staff ballerina Leda; Zumba with friend of Pomeroy Valentine Barlis; and now, “Princess Pomeroy’s” monthly drag performance at San Francisco’s hottest nightclub. A team of Pomeroy staff helps ferry him to and fro, sometimes two events in one day. The minute someone even mentions there might be dancing, everyone here thinks of Brian first - and helps make it so. Not that he needs help, this man advocates for himself and manifests his reality every day.
When you don’t drive, walking becomes even more precious. Every day, Alla would take a solo walk to her local burrito shop several blocks from her home.
When a distracted driver hit her in the crosswalk in ______, Alla’s arm was broken and she was forced to stay at home for MONTHS recuperating. With such a large percentage of Pomeroy’s adult participants aging, the possibility of a fall or injury has repercussions beyond scraped knees and twisted ankles - it ends your daily social activities [and the healing properties thereof] as well. Pomeroy staff Jenny happily arranged for Alla’s friends to visit and bring healing vibes to Alla.
It is in giving that we receive, and this is equally true
for our friends with disabilities. Witness the Pomeroy
Birthday Club, a group of program participants that
volunteer to visit nearby shut-ins and seniors, bringing
birthday mirth complete with hats and cake! We have
an abundance of joy at Pomeroy; so much that we can
afford to export it.
So Brian gets to dance, Diane gets to hug on Ron,
and Alla knows her friends miss her and wish her well.
Other folks in need are granted access to the amazing community of love we foster
at Pomeroy. They sound like little things, yet their effect is so immense and vital.
You would want to be there for your friends - and by supporting Pomeroy Center
programs and staff, in essence, you are.
Princess Pomeroy hangs with RuPaul Drag Race star Brooklyn Hytes backstage at Oasis SF
Pomeroy Birthday Club helping seniors celebrate all life's offerings.
Diane and her man Ron share the love.