Pomeroy Recreation and Rehabilitation Center:

– …family of means,
and she used her power to set up a facility
that served, initially, people with developmental disabilities. I’m gonna show you, oh
first I have to say, I have nothing to disclose,
this is a legal thing here, but this is a, what you
see here is a photo, it’s kinda hard to make
out, but down at the bottom, this is a photo of the
coast at San Francisco many years ago, and there was a pool. It was at that time, and probably, if it was still in
existence, would still be the largest outdoor pool in the world. It was, it used ocean water. If you could imagine
the coast of this city pumping ocean water into a pool, that was more than three
football fields long. The lifeguards had to sit in
canoes to patrol the pool. But the Pomeroy Center was founded, as was mentioned, as the
rec center initially. And right behind the pool
was the San Francisco Zoo, so I guess at that time, where did people with disabilities go? Well they went to right behind the zoo and into a building at a
pool that was very cold, and they were on an upper
floor of the rec center. So, you know, if you had mobility issues, you, I guess you were
carried up the stairs, there was no way to get up there. But, nonetheless, Janet
Pomeroy used her position to wrangle from the city the space to open up a rec center,
and the purpose was so that families did not have to leave children that had
developmental disabilities at home all day, but instead had a place where they could go, and at least have recreational activities. Later on, and there’s
piece of land towards the back of that picture,
it’s just all wooded, the city agreed to give
her that space too. It’s about a five acre plot of land, which we are still on,
as long as she could come up with the money to develop it. You know at that time, it would be really hard to get five acres
from the city today, but at that time, she was able to do it. And what’s really
interesting about that is her, in her mind, when she set that up, she didn’t want it to be just a place for people with disabilities,
but she wanted it to be a community center. A place where people could come and people who don’t have
disabilities could come as well. And you’re gonna see
in the next few slides, some of what’s going on
in Pomeroy Center today. I do want to let everybody know that, like any other day program that serves people with disabilities, we are licensed. We do hold a platinum seal of transparency from GuideStar, and we also recently received another three year accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation and Rehabilitation Facilities. Right now, and I’m gonna talk about the current goals at the Pomeroy Center, and then I’m gonna talk a little bit about what we aspire to
be in the future as well. So right now we are continuing to strive to become a compelling community center that serves a diverse population. This is a part of our population. Every day, we have a program for children, the only after school program for kids with special needs in the
city of San Francisco. And although it looks
like the buses never end, I mean some days it feels like that, every day we get about 80 kids that come from the school district, public schools into our
center between 2:30 and 3:00, and at just about the time
when most of the staff’s sort of winding down, looking
for that last cup of coffee, all these kids come in and the
energy level really goes up. We, here’s just a picture of two people who happen to be sitting at the center, just enjoying conversation outside, with their hats and coats, probably means it was in the summer
here (audience laughing), and, you know, enjoying, this
is a part of our property where we celebrate some of the individuals and their accomplishments,
and that you see some of the photos in the rear. Here’s a van that goes out. We have, we like to celebrate
the abilities of our people. I’m not a big fan of the word disability, I always think in terms of people that have differing abilities, and this is a van that
takes some our people out that actually work in the community and do some landscaping for private homeowners and businesses. We, it’s a very welcoming
sign in our lobby. Usually the clouds are not there, but that was the beauty
of technology at work. This is just a view of our lobby. Frances, who has been in
our program, and I know our guest here in the very front, who also spent his
childhood at our program, probably knows Frances. She came to the program in 1954, and is still with us today. Just a picture of our main hall, this is where a lot of gatherings go on. Not just for our participants,
but we have music, we bring in, today there was a band there called Bread and Roses, they
play a lot in the Bay Area. So there are days when
we bring in entertainment just for the people
that are at our center, but also on Friday nights
or Saturday nights, we have music and the public comes in and we, our participants might be there to, you know, serve drinks or take tickets or show people to their seats. Our stage, Paul Giannini Stage, that’s named after Paul had been with us, he passed away, he was
one of our participants. Clara Giannini, as a
long-time board member. And actually, Clara
Giannini and Janet Pomeroy back in the 1960s, and Eunice Shriver, we have photos of them all together. That’s what makes this
award so interesting to me, because between these women who, you know you think back
to the 1950s, early 1960s, wasn’t easy for women to own any business, start any business, let
alone programs like this. But when you look at the
history of our country, that’s really who drove the
models that we have today. And it’s amazing. We have a dance and yoga studio. So one of the things that makes our day activity program a little unique, and in fact just two Sundays ago, myself and another staff
member were in Hawaii at a Pac Rim disability conference sponsored by the University of Hawaii, and we were talking about our day program because it is an educational program. We have over 45 classes, we run
it like a community college. And in fact two of the classes are run by community college professors, and students from the outside can come and take their art or drama at the Pomeroy Center along with our participants. Oops, I missed something, I wanna go back. So, pardon me? Oh you’re gonna help me
with going backwards, okay. Um, we have another, there’s
another part of our program that’s very important
to the Pomeroy Center in terms of bringing the public in, and that’s this warm water pool. So, as our program was built,
you know, it has its roots as a recreational center,
and certainly the pool. And Janet wanted the pool to be created. It’s warm water, what I mean by warm water we keep it between 92 and 94 degrees. It’s salt water based, like the ocean, except it’s a little
bit, we make the salt’s a little bit better for your skin. And the pool’s used by
adults from the community in both the morning and the evening, people that may have had surgery or they have some issue
of pain that they’re trying to solve or they’re
rehabilitating themselves, and the pool’s fantastic for that. It’s also in mid morning
and right after school, we have infant swimming lessons and then children’s swimming lessons. It’s the best place in the
world if you have a baby, because the water is like bath water. You never hear an infant
scream like you do when you go to the Y and they dip ’em in the cold pool and they’re freaking out. That just does not happen
at the Pomeroy Center. And so we, the pool is
a very important part of bringing the community in. The other goal we have is
to help our participants demonstrate their value,
not only by working but also volunteering in the community. So we serve about 250
adults and more than 100 of them are not verbal,
or their verbal skills are very very minimal. Some of them, a number of
them are not verbal or vocal. And so it is a very,
very difficult population to get into the work community. But that doesn’t mean
they don’t have value. So we have found ways of
helping our participants get into the community by
volunteering to do things. This is a group here that
works with the food bank. Every Tuesday we get a pallet of food from the San Francisco Marin food bank. We separate it into grocery bags. Our participants, we load them up in a van and all the groceries,
and we deliver groceries to needy people in San Francisco. And I will tell you,
like the two gentlemen on the right, neither one is verbal, but when the van pulls up, they recognize the apartment building they’re going into, they know the apartment they’re going to, they knock on the door, they go in, they feel very valuable and valued by the community to do that. This is a group of the able gardeners. You’re seeing them in the background, you see downtown San Francisco, just out in the community doing a project. This is our food bank volunteers. We also, besides delivering groceries, work at the food bank to help them sort their incoming food to get it ready to go out to other organizations. We also deliver meals for
Meals on Wheels in the city. So this is another
nonprofit that we work with. And just like the food bank, on Wednesdays right now, we load up
our van and we take food right now to 36 needy families
throughout San Francisco. And the director of the
food bank just contacted me today about adding another route. I was assured that this
selfie was not taken while the van was in
motion (audience laughing). I have no way to know. In our program, we also have
a full size basketball gym. And this is a group of our participants practicing basketball, but our team, the Wildcats, is undefeated
in their long history. We can’t wait for the
Golden State Warriors to move to San Francisco, because that will be our first test. But in reality, it’s just
part of the whole thing about physical fitness, this
is just one of the classes. On the right, you see
one of our participants across the street at
Harding Park, which is a tournament player’s course. The PGA championship
will be there in 2020, and we get to go over there and work with an organization, another
nonprofit, called First Tee. First Tee is a national organization, and we teach people golfing skills. And here’s our group out golfing. Esther, who’s sitting over here is our development director and there’s our past board chair and
one of our participants, Frank, there on the far left,
is about to turn 80 years old. And he is in great
health and great spirits, and he loves to golf. Last thing we’re working
on right now of big issues are our expressive arts program. And we want, it is amazing,
and I know some of you are probably familiar
with this, but everyone has an ability to express themselves. Sometimes verbally they don’t, that’s not how they do it, but they can do it through art, or they can do it through music. We have an amazing art program, and our artists show their art at bakeries in the city,
we have a couple of retail locations where we sell our art, and they of course we have
the Pomeroy Center itself. And the art class is one of the classes that the City College of San
Francisco professors run. And so they’re not only teaching, but opening it up for the community. And all kinds of art. I mean we saw some painting,
we also do a lot of sculpture, and then we do an expressive
art through music as well. And as well as dance, so I
showed you the dance studio, one of our staff, the
woman on the far left, she came to us, she’s
a director of a staff. But in the evening, after
work, she’s a ballerina here in San Francisco. So she brought her talent
to the Pomeroy Center so after providing direct
service, or as part of that, she also teaches a dance
class, and this is just part of a performance they put on
during the holiday season. And this is our drama class. And they meet Tuesdays
and Thursday nights. And again, a lot of self expression and a lot of ability for people to really get up and do something
that they really wanna do in front of their peers and in
front of an audience as well. Wonderful woman there,
Hope, with her tambourine. The last goal we’ve been working on, and this is a lot of work for us, and that’s because of
our children’s program. So we have right now 82
kids in that program. 70 of them have autism as either one or part of a dual diagnosis. It is an amazing number
when you think about that. And our children, you know
we have a big playground. Our kids program is six days a week. So we have an after school program and then an all day Saturday program. And then when the public schools are closed, we’re open and we have camp. So parents have an opportunity to continue to have
their children come in. We keep a 1:4 ratio, staff to children. And, you know, the kids are
just, they’re just great. We have, this is what’s
called a Snoezelen room. That’s not a name we made up, by the way, it’s actually a scientific name. But it’s a sensory room. It doesn’t do justice to
look at it in a static way, but there’s a lot of motion in the room. There’s videos going on of things that are very calming,
there’s lot of light sensory. There’s some sound as well. There’s chairs so people who are confined to wheelchairs can get out our their chair and sit in a hammock
or something different. We have very sophisticated tools to transfer individuals
from one thing to another. So that everyone can
enjoy a different mode during the day, if they need it. Or, if they’re in sensory overload, this is just a great place to relax. Where you find me most afternoons. Just more kids, bouncing
and Elizabeth, who, this is Elizabeth being
Elizabeth in our program. I wanna say, like everybody else, I am amazed and just humbled by our staff because this is an extremely
expensive place to live. And we have to pay hourly wages to people who are taking care of
adults with disabilities, or children, and it’s very difficult to live in the community
on what we are able to pay. But the staff, we have
very little turnover. And in the last two
years, we’ve had nobody go out and on unemployment insurance. You know, or leave us, you
know, it’s just amazing to me. What are we trying to do moving forward? Well, one, we want to continue to have our individuals surpass their
community integration goals, either through employment
or volunteer service, combination of that, or
in any type of outing that would be meaningful to them. And I do want to say
that we do not set goals. A lot of people come in want to know what’s your goal for number
of people to seek employment? And I go, I don’t have a goal for that. Our goal is to satisfy
our individuals’ desires. And our goal to do that’s 100%. But we don’t put any other goal on it. It’s all about what they
want out of their life, and what they want out of the program. We want our program to have an impact in this community, and
have that impact grow. So one of the things we’re doing right now is we’ve just opened up
two residential facilities. That is not something
we’ve been in before. But it’s something we
felt we had to go into because many group homes in
this city are being sold. People who’ve been running group homes, now hey my house can, I can get a million or two or three for my
home, and I can sell it and I can move to Redding
or I can move to Fresno or I can move out of state and start a group home somewhere else. And in San Francisco, housing
is a problem for everybody, but it’s especially a problem for people with developmental disabilities. So we now have opened two group homes on Fulton Street, near
the Golden Gate Park. And they’re just beautiful homes with a great, great vibe. The next thing we’re looking at, because we have so much
experience with children, is having an integrated daycare program. So we’re just about done
with our license for that, and we hope to serve 20
children in a daycare program, where at least half would be non-disabled public, paid spots, and the other would be kids with special needs that might be subsidized there, or not. But, the idea is that, and we’ve seen model after model that works. When you put kids together they do not detect disability at that age. They simply don’t understand it. All they do is they look
for ways to get around it. They wanna include everybody
in the games that they play. And we think that that
mentality, starting at two and going to five years
old will carry over when these kids get into school, and when they get into the, eventually, into the employment market, because it won’t be foreign to them. And I’m gonna end with just a couple of photos of some of our people. And then lastly, I just wanna say this. I know some of you, many
of you have probably have been to andadult day
program at one time or another. But when I walk into to our program, or really anyone, and you see in our case 250 adults, and
they just wanna be who they are. And somehow if you can just accept who they are, and the fact
that they have this value, and for some them, maybe the value is that they make you laugh,
and I know a lot of people that don’t make me laugh. So, you know, they have this value that when you open your
mind and your heart to them, and then you learn how to
communicate, it’s a struggle. You know, I grew up
learning how to communicate mostly verbally, a lot of the people I talk to now I can’t use verbal cues to communicate with them. But when you find ways of communicating, it is amazing what you learn from these individuals every day. And for those of you not local, or those of you local,
if you’re in the city, you’re over by the zoo,
we’re still by the zoo. Drop by, you’re welcome any time. Thank you so much. (applause)

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