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  • Sebastian Fisher '25

Volunteering Richmond Neighborhood

Community service and volunteering is a big part of St. Ignatius, and is one of its core values and ideals. One of the local, non-profit organizations where SI students frequently volunteer (including me) is the Richmond Neighborhood Center. The Richmond Neighborhood Center was founded roughly forty years ago and its main purpose is to meet the needs of the people in the western part of San Francisco. That means making San Francisco feel accessible to working families and low income residents, primarily through its two main programs: Youth Before and After School Programs, and Food Security Programs.

I recently spoke with Yves Xavier, who is the Director of Community Programs at the Richmond Neighborhood Center, and oversees its Food Security Programs. The food program that Yves runs consists of several different programs such as food pantries, home delivered groceries, and emergency food boxes, all combining to serve around a thousand community members in the Richmond and Sunset Districts, each month. The people served are mostly seniors, including from Chinese, Russian, and various other language backgrounds, and the programs also meet the needs of people with disabilities and mobility impaired people.

While experiencing setbacks during COVID, the Center made sure to find ways to operate while staying safe, given the critical nature of food delivery for community members. The Center refrained from faceto-face interactions and did things like pre-packaging grocery bags, and operated almost one hundred percent outdoors, rain or shine. They also created a new program where volunteers delivered grocery bags to people in need, directly to their homes.

Volunteers, like those that come from SI, are essential to the Richmond Neighborhood Center. Volunteers pack groceries, distribute food directly to recipients at pantries, load groceries into delivery cars, and oftentimes deliver groceries directly to homes. When asked what he would say to potential volunteers, Yves said that the feeling of helping others in the local community secure critical food is special, and that the hands-on nature of the work is rewarding. And the importance to community members goes beyond just the critical food delivery.

For some recipients, conversations with volunteers from the Richmond Neighborhood Center can be the only contact with another person they have their entire day, especially those who are elderly and/or live alone. So, as Yves says, not only are volunteers helping the local community, they are also broadening their own horizons. So if you are looking for a place to volunteer, consider the Richmond Neighborhood Center.

Sebastian Fisher '25 is a Vol. 71 Contributing Editor

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