Bill Somerville Named as Jefferson Award Recipient

 In PVF News

PVF’s Founder Bill Somerville has been named a Jefferson Award Recipient “for his streamlined, grassroots grant making process that meets his community needs”. As Bill says, “the essence of good philanthropy is trusting the people that you work with to do good things”.

Two such individuals were highlighted in Bill’s award recognition: Larry Purcell of the Catholic Worker House and Sister Christina of the Saint Francis Center.

Larry and Bill have worked together for over 35 years. Larry became a priest in 1970, but after three years in a parish he left to search for a way to serve the poor more effectively. In 1976 he became a Catholic Worker (a lifestyle in which no one is paid and no one is charged) and created The Catholic Worker House of Redwood City. What started as a shelter for at-risk youth is now an entity comprising a food program, an English language school, and housing for the previously incarcerated, day laborers, and families in need. 

PVF met Sister Christina in 2000, when she was recruited to run the Saint Francis Center in Fair Oaks. Over the last 21 years, Sister Christina has transformed the Center, the neighborhood, and the possibility of opportunity for hundreds of people living in poverty. The Center now offers 200+ low-income apartments and serves hundreds of people a month with food, clothes, a gym, a school, and hope. 

Larry and Sister Christina spoke to KPIX about their long-term relationships with Bill and PVF, stating “Bill is only funder I’ve met who swims among the people of the community”.

We’re proud to share Bill’s story with you at the video below.

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