A Different Kind of Public Relations

By Nick Singer, Account Coordinator

The daily life of a communications professional can be so overwhelming that one sometimes forgets about the real struggles going on within our own community (San Francisco in LCI’s case).
From its great foodie scene and a growing population of intelligent, forward-thinking young people who are filling the City’s many tech-related jobs, San Francisco is blessed. However, San Francisco is masterfully ignoring its systematic homeless problems that have existed here my entire life. The reality of homelessness is a difficult subject to tackle or talk about – so much so that San Franciscans have become hardened to it as a self-defense mechanism to not have to deal with or think about it.

I am guilty of this apathetic feeling, as well. As I walk to work from a downtown BART station every day and see lots of homeless people camped out and living on the streets, my mind is in another place. I rarely stop to think about the true context of the situation – that a person who is hungry and needs shelter is instead sleeping on the street. A real human with feelings, emotions and a life story.

LCI recently signed up to volunteer at the Curry Senior Center  on behalf of our non-profit client, Project Open Hand. Located in the northern tip of San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, the Center feeds hundreds of homeless seniors who don’t have the means to get a meal on their own.

It was refreshing to be present, in the moment and focused on helping real people instead of the status quo of simply walking by and looking the other way.

As we interacted with and fed these appreciative and charismatic seniors, I could see something light up in many of them: they had stories and wisdom to share. They needed something beyond just a meal — this was a place where they could engage with other people…laughing together, watching movies together, eating a warm and nutritious meal…and being a part of the community.
It struck me that, as PR professionals, we should interact within our communities as part of our professional duties. How can someone “keep their ear to the ground” if they’re rushing past everything and purposely trying to avoid interaction? The insight was eye opening and made me thankful for the family and friends I have – and the agency I work for. It also made me realize that we all need to stop and think about the problems and issues confronting us every day, rather than rush by them and pretend they don’t make an impact.

In what ways have you recently made a positive impact in your community? Leave a comment below or email Nick at [email protected] to share your story.

15 thoughts on “A Different Kind of Public Relations

  1. Thanks for the great blog Nick – I’m very disappointed I was unable to make it along to lend my help. Seeing the amount of homeless people around the city and wondering how you could possibly help can be overwhelming, so being able to give your time to an organization like Project Open Hand is a great way to do this, and hugely rewarding too.

  2. Great post, Nick. Our day at Curry Senior Center was truly rewarding. The experience made me stop and think about the neglected people of our city that people, including myself, often overlook. I hope we get to do it again in the future.

  3. Nick – I am so moved by your well-written blog that I am sharing with the folks at Project Open Hand. I’m glad that at LCI we can help everyone be a better part of the communities in which we live and work. Bravo! Cheers, David

  4. Nick,
    Thanks for writing this blog entry. That day was amazing – I learned so much about this wonderful program and about people who live just blocks away from our office. And, you are so right about the need for us to know about our entire community – for professional and personal reasons.

  5. Such a thought-provoking post, Nick. Thank you for bringing the city’s plight to life with heart.

  6. Nick, I was very moved by your heartfelt and well-written blog. You bring up so many important and difficult topics. You asked what we have done recently to make a difference. I too find that with my busy lifestyle, it is hard to find the time to give back, but I try to pass this ideal on to my children. Last weekend, I took them to volunteer at a school to help with a much-needed gardening project, and I sometimes cook and deliver meals for others in need. And I am considering bringing my children to help feed meals to seniors at the On Lok 30th Street Senior Center on Thanksgiving in a few weeks! What never ceases to amaze me is that when I take the time to do something for someone in need, I often feel like I am the one who received the gift. Thank you again for reminding us all that we live as part of a complicated world, and if we open our eyes we can all find ways – sometimes big, sometimes small – to make a difference.

  7. What a beautifully written piece – shining a light on the passion that individuals like you bring to this enormous opportunity to address these very real problems. Thank you, Nick!

    1. Mark,
      Thank you for the kind words, but it is us who should be thanking you and POH for your amazing work!

  8. Nick,
    Thanks for your moving response to your experiences at Curry. We are so fortunate to have many groups and individuals like yourself who do take time to stop, look around and acknowledge and support the community around them. You touched many lives the day you volunteered and your words clearly indicate that, in return, you were touched and changed by those you served. Lessons for us all. Thank you, Nick!

    1. Simon, thank you for doing this day in and day out and serving a community which is too often overlooked. LCI had a fantastic time at the Curry Center and we will remember it for years to come.

  9. Hi, Nick. My wife and I get a box when we’re in a restaurant and there’s too much food. Then we take it to homeless people we see in the area and offer it to them. They are very appreciative indeed, as you say.

  10. What a great post, Nick! Our time at the Curry Senior Center was incredibly rewarding and I look forward to other volunteer opportunities in the near future.

  11. Hi Nick, I second your thoughts here as this was a very special day for me, too. It inspired me so much that I’m signing up for an ongoing volunteer opportunity so I can continue to give back to the community which has already given so much to me.

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