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Meals On Wheels of San Francisco

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Zen and the Art of Holiday Cheer

Posted December 18, 2015

MOWSF Blog | Senior Issues

Karl's iphone 548Michael had the door of his cozy single-room-occupancy hotel room wide open as a cadre of volunteers snaked their way through a maze of narrow hallways on the 3rd floor of the Raman Hotel.  Faith – an employee at Zendesk and a regular volunteer at the Raman – reached out and handed Michael a hand wrapped gift, complete with a homemade card.  She knew the building inside and out and was ready with a meal and gift as if she had been personally trained by one of Santa’s elves.

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Three floors below in the bustling community room, staff from the Tenderloin Housing Clinic – the nonprofit that runs the Raman Hotel – poured hot cocoa and passed out holiday cookies.  Residents and volunteers crowded around a big folding table in the center of the room, eagerly cutting intricate designs into paper snowflakes.  If you closed your eyes and listened to the cheerful chatter and hustle and bustle, you  might think you were at a big family gathering on Christmas Eve.

The Raman Hotel is a mere two blocks from Zendesk, a booming tech company in the burgeoning Mid-Market district.  Yet, walking the halls of the low-income senior residence is a significant change of scenery for Faith, one of Zendesk’s most ambitious volunteers.  In the short walk between buildings, the steady patter of fingers tapping on laptops makes way to the singing, joking, and wry banter that fills the hallways of the Raman.

Karl's iphone 550All of these trappings of a classic Christmas scene were the fruits of an innovative new partnership between Meals On Wheels of San Francisco (MOWSF), Zendesk, and the Raman Hotel.  MOWSF launched this partnership to encourage companies like Zendesk to adopt one of the buildings in the Tenderloin and SoMa that represents the highest concentration of homebound seniors in the city.  There are 29 buildings in a compact area that house over 450 of MOWSF’s 2,400 regular recipients.

Zendesk, the first tech company to relocate to the Mid-Market district, proved to be the perfect partner for this new program.  Their employees set a gold-standard for embracing a generous and robust community based agreement with local nonprofits to do the most good possible as a new neighbor.Karl's iphone 516

While the logistics of a model like this just make sense, it’s the genuine feeling of community that trump even the greatest operational achievements.  The smiles and laughter that filled the Raman hotel on this festive Friday were ample evidence to show this model is working.

In 2016, MOWSF has set a goal to get as many of these buildings ‘adopted’ as possible.  If you are interested in following Zendesk’s lead, please contact Danie Belfied, the Director of Volunteer Programs at dbelfield@mowsf.org.

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