Where’s Bill? Visiting Our Partners
By Bill Somerville, PVF Founder
Last week I took Bill Johnson and Michelle Tracheta, Editors of the Palo Alto Weekly and the Redwood City Pulse, respectively, to see St. Francis Center, founded and run by Sister Christina Heltsley. Over the past 25 years, Sister Christina has established a facility that provides clothing donations, shower and clothes washing facilities, a school for children of the lowest income families, and is one of the largest food distribution centers in the county. In addition, Sister Christina has established over 200 housing units and is one of the biggest housing programs in the county, with a neighborhood playground and a community garden. This kind of program has the ability to transform people, places and attitudes.
We then went on to visit Larry Purcell, Founder of the Redwood City Catholic Worker House, which has housed, fed and clothed the poor for over 40 years. It is just one house, but many things go on in it. Larry receives no salary, is at work at 7 AM, and is well known in the community for the love, attention and materials he gives out. He is the quintessential grassroots man and it’s no surprise he was named the most recent Jefferson Awardee for Public Service.
The St. Francis Center and Catholic Worker House are just two of many small programs working in the community that PVF considers to be a partner, not just a grantee. We’re honored to be able to introduce others to their amazing work whenever we can.