Tag: Volunteers

LinkedIn Interns Say ‘Hi’ and Raise 10,000 to End Homelessness

In late March 2016, Downtown Streets Team launched its work experience model for unhoused community members in San Francisco, a city that we know and love for its diverse, creative, and charmingly gritty culture. Three months after our launch, we were thrilled to have the attention of the largest employment oriented social networking company in the world, LinkedIn.

Working with LinkedIn’s Interns for Good was a no-brainer for us. In fact, we’re humbled to admit that Downtown Streets Team attempted to make our own employment-oriented social networking site a few years back. Yeah, that failed. Not just because we’re social workers making a poor attempt at engineering, but because access to technology has drastically improved for the unhoused community enough to make LinkedIn a viable resource for folks living on the streets. There couldn’t be a more exciting time to launch our non-profit in one of the most innovative and tech-savvy cities in the world.

San Franciscans know life isn’t golden for everyone in the City. Everyday we’re faced with over 8,000 people experiencing homelessness, and while the problem at large is so visible, the individuals themselves seem to blend together. It takes a conscious effort to remind ourselves the folks we see struggling are people, not just “the homeless,” and that everyone has a different path that led them to the street.

In consultations with our Team Members, we asked them what the most distressing aspect of homelessness is. Their responses were not as you might expect, the lack of adequate shelter, food or a sense of safety. We were told that the most difficult part of homelessness is the lack of acknowledgement from other people. This led to San Francisco Downtown Streets Team’s Just Say Hi campaign.

LinkedIn’s Interns for a Cause took our concept and ran with it. They demonstrated an impassioned and thorough understanding of our goal to end social hesitation around acknowledging homeless community members. People want to help end homelessness, but they don’t know how. Everyone can start by simply saying hi. The interns did exactly they: they saw our Team Members (homeless community members) cleaning the street, and asked who they were.

From that first interaction, the interns designed a program where coworkers could send a simple hello to a fellow employee accompanied with a message and a treat in return for making a donation. More than 300 employees participated, raising $2,755 for us! This program was a proof of concept for us: when asked to be thoughtful and reach out to someone, employees were inclined to take action and make a connection. Once someone received a Just Say Hi message, they were inspired to send one themselves. It was even worth a donation on their part. You can’t put a price on human connection, and this program proved that positivity breeds positivity. This is something we’ve seen in our work as well: when you start treating someone with dignity, they will rise to the occasion. The interns’ Just Say Hi message program proved positive attention yields real results.

With continued organized efforts, the LinkedIn interns in partnership with the LinkedIn for Good team raised over $10,000 for our San Francisco Team. Given the success of the campaign, we hope to replicate it across our organization.

With this funding, we can grow our Team and provide more services to more people. Our San Francisco Team is the fastest growing of the seven branches DST has established across the Bay Area. In the past six months, we have helped 22 individuals find permanent employment, and another 16 find temporary employment. For many of our folks, this was a huge step. Having not worked for years, many Team Members at first don’t have confidence they could return to work. However, after a weekend gig cleaning up after Outside Lands and San Francisco Pride, they realized they do have what it takes to get a job, and began putting out applications and setting-up a LinkedIn profile.

When the LinkedIn Interns saw our Team and reached out to just say hi, we had no idea where it would lead. Here we are, together taking steps towards ending homelessness one person, one human connection and one job at a time.

We Partnered with High School Students to Clean Up Marin



Last Friday 36 students and 4 parents from Sir Francis Drake High School volunteered alongside 21 Team Members to cleanup a particularly littered stretch of Anderson Drive and Bellam Blvd. in San Rafael. The neighborhood is not only cleaner, it is safer – our Team safely disposed of 15 syringes in addition to several truckloads of trash. Thank you to our volunteers for making this possible!  A special thanks goes out to leadership teacher Kendall Galli who organized the event with Downtown Streets Team (DST) Staff. As always, DST loved the opportunity to engage the community and make it a better place.  Please contact Alena Nelson at alena@streetsteam.org  if you’d like to get involved with future events!



Group shot after the three hour volunteer event!

Group shot after the three hour volunteer event!

One of our Team Members, Nelson, working with a student and parent volunteer from Drake High School

One of our Team Members, Nelson, working with a student and parent volunteer from Drake High School

Another Team Member picking up trash with two student volunteers

Another Team Member picking up trash with two student volunteers


Post #2: Yavneh Students Reflect on Volunteering with our Team Members


Yavneh Day School 8th grade students are volunteering with our homeless and low-income Team Members on our San Jose Team every Friday for just over a month.  After volunteering they write about their experiences and share their photos.  Their reflections are below. #StudentsInService


Yavneh Day School 8th Grader

This week, I was surprised to see that the street we were cleaning was so much messier than the one last week. We actually nearly filled our bags in an hour. I saw a lot of candy wrappers, cigarette butts and papers. We talked about what you can tell about a neighborhood from what people throw away. What I enjoyed most this week was talking with our team leader and learning about her experiences and her family.


Yavneh Day School 8th Grader

As we were driving to work with Downtown Streets Team for the second time, I really didn’t know what to expect. I have never really been exposed to low income areas nor have I interacted with homeless people on a personal level. Downtown Streets Team changed my perspective on homelessness.

As we started to work, we picked up trash and bottles. I was stunned. There was so much trash, and there was just litter everywhere. Every corner we turned, we saw more trash, piles of it.

The people that we work with (from DST), are all very open with us about their stories. My friend and I spoke with one DST member who told us about her experiences.


Yavneh Day School 8th Grader

This week we went to a street in downtown San Jose and we picked up trash with homeless people. It was good, tiring work and I felt proud when we finished. We went on 3 streets and picked up trash on all of them. I liked that the people we were working with were doing this to help improve their personal situations — they weren’t just doing a good deed for the city.


Read more reflections here: Students In Service

Collaborative Litter Cleanup Effort in San José Wins Top Award

South Bay partnership with thousands of volunteers removed 100 tons of trash from creeks

For Immediate Release 
September 21, 2015

Jennie Loft, Public Information Manager
Office Phone: (408) 535-8554
Email: jennie.loft@sanjoseca.gov

Collaborative Litter Cleanup Effort in San José Wins Top Award

South Bay partnership with thousands of volunteers removed 100 tons of trash from creeks

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Working with thousands of volunteers who helped to remove more than 100 tons of litter from South Bay waterways just in the past year, the City of San José and eight other partners in the South Bay Creeks Collaborative have significantly improved the health of creeks in Santa Clara Valley.

In recognition for this achievement, the Collaborative received the Outstanding Environmental Project award last Friday at the 12th Biennial “State of the San Francisco Estuary” conference (www.sfestuary.org/soe/). A total of six projects were honored that showcased the value of partnerships in making remarkable contributions to the health and resilience of the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary.

The South Bay Creeks Collaborative includes the City of San José, CommUniverCity, Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful, Friends of Los Gatos Creek, Friends of Guadalupe River, Downtown Streets Team, San José Conservation Corps, San José State University and Clean Creeks, Healthy Communities.

“The success of this collaborative underscores that the health of our creeks is important to everyone in our community, and everyone can help,” said Kerrie Romanow, San José Environmental Services Director. “Litter is a huge challenge in the Bay Area, but we’ve demonstrated that we can make a real difference by working as a team.”

“Together we have worked hard to improve our South Bay creeks,” said Deb Kramer, Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful Program Manager. “I feel so privileged to be in such amazing company and to work towards a common goal that benefits our entire community.”

The South Bay Creeks Collaborative has engaged thousands of volunteers from neighborhoods, corporations, community groups, and schools to clean up South Bay creeks. More than 100 tons of trash have been removed from South Bay creeks in fiscal year 2014-2015.

During extensive creek cleanups, volunteers removed automobile batteries, litter, tires, shopping carts, clothing, and building materials. The removal of these items contributes to cleaner creeks and a healthier San Francisco Bay for South Bay residents and wildlife.

Student volunteers from San José State University have brought their experience from the creek cleanups back into the classroom. They developed articles and videos as well as organized and hosted a conference devoted to clean creeks, called the “Coyote Creek Howl.”

The Collaborative also organized the painting of the Coyote Creek mural at Olinder Community Center, as well as the creation of the watershed-themed Art Walk through Downtown San José that features five public utility boxes.

Major funding for the Collaborative came from the City of San José, Santa Clara Valley Water District, and a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

About San José Environmental Services Department (ESD) and San José Green Vision
San José, Capital of Silicon Valley, is the largest city in Northern California and the 10th largest city in the nation. The San José Environmental Services Department (www.sjenvironment.org) manages garbage and recycling services; watershed protection and pollution prevention; municipal drinking water and recycled water; community sustainability initiatives; and the San José-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility. ESD’s programs and initiatives align with the San José Green Vision (www.sjenvironment.org/greenvision), a long-term plan to create a sustainable future for our community.
Follow us on Facebook: SJEnvironment, Twitter: @SJEnvironment, Instagram: @SJEnvironment.
Notifications: Receive news, events, and announcements at Notify Me (www.sanjoseca.gov/list.aspx); select keyword Environment and choose from the topics list.

The South Bay Creeks Collaborative partners:

San José Environmental Services Department: www.sjenvironment.org

Clean Creeks, Healthy Communities: https://www.sanjoseca.gov/index.aspx?nid=1490

CommUniverCity: http://cucsj.org/

Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful: http://www.keepcoyotecreekbeautiful.org/ 

Friends of Los Gatos Creek: http://sbcleancreeks.myevent.com/

Friends of Guadalupe River: http://www.guadalupeconservancy.org/

Downtown Streets Team: http://streetsteam.org/

San José Conservation Corps: http://www.sjcccs.org/

San José State University: http://www.sjsu.edu/



This news release is available online at www.sanjoseca.gov

Students in Service Project Kicks Off!

Every Friday morning during the month of September a group of 8th grade students from Yavneh Day School will join our a San Jose Team Members to beautify our creeks and neighborhoods.

We have worked closely with Yavneh over the years and are always impressed with their hands-on approach to education, and how thoughtful they are with projects, giving their students a unique and rewarding experience through partnering with nonprofits and other socially conscious companies.  Our latest project with them, Students in Service (#StudentsInService), is something we hope to replicate with other schools.


Follow the Students’ Journey

During this project, students will snap photos and write about their experiences volunteering with our homeless folks, while also cleaning up the environment.


Check out the first photos and stories submitted by the students so far and follow the journey #StudentsInService



Reflection #1

By Lily, an 8th grader at Yavneh Day School

On Friday September 11, my 8th grade class had the privilege of being the first kids in this age group to work along side volunteers of Downtown Streets Team. We split up into two groups as we started on our adventure to clean the streets. It was an amazing experience. Every time I found a piece of trash and put it in my bag, I just had  to smile because of the joy and happiness inside me; since when did picking up trash become something that felt so good?
The DST members showed their smarts the second we met them. My friends and I were impressed with the  creative ways they did what they had to do. For example, it was genius to put a stick in the lip of the garbage bag so that it will stay open!  My favorite part of volunteering with the team was hearing my amazing group leader’s stories. It was really scary to realize how fast one can go from shopping at Neiman Marcus to being homeless alongside your husband and not being able to pay your pile of your hospital bills.

Volunteering with DST was an eye opening and amazing experience and I am so excited to do it again next Friday!

Reflection #2

by Amanda, an 8th grader at Yavneh Day School

I know this sounds weird, but picking up trash is a lot of fun. It gave me a chance to connect with the community a little more. I got to hang out with friends, both old and new, as we helped around a less glamorous part of my own neighborhood (near Naglee Park). Okay, I admit, it was kind of gross, (especially when we found the dead bird), but that was outweighed by how great it was to do good things with good people.