May 5, 2017

Did you know that happy people live seven years longer than average? Or that it takes 76 muscles to smile? Well, those are the first things San Francisco District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell learned from Jerry, 62, when he arrived at Jerry's supportive veteran's housing facility in the beautiful Presidio this afternoon.

Jerry, a Navy veteran of the Vietnam War, lives with 107 other vets and 9 service dogs in a building overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. All of Jerry's neighbors were once chronically homeless; Jerry was once chronically homeless himself. Now that he has a roof over his head, his passion is helping those who are still living on the streets.

Jerry is confined to the floor where he lives due to a severe back injury; he does physical therapy six times a day to keep the pain at bay. Before his injury, he would do homeless outreach on a cargo bike all the way down to Fisherman's Wharf. Now that his injury keeps him at home, he outsources his outreach efforts to his neighbors in the building - and he loves it just as much.

The thing you notice about Jerry immediately is his infectious positivity. He knows he's positive; he works at it, and he tries to spread it around. Jerry teaches a "Quality of Life" class to the vets in his building in which he focuses on coping skills. "You're the director of how you want to live each day when you get up. I do a gratitude list every day when I get up. I try to lead by example."

Jerry's positivity extends to his relationship with Meals on Wheels - and we couldn't be more proud. "I'm blessed because of you guys," he says. "Nutrition is really important - I know! You know, I volunteered with Meals on Wheels years ago in Fremont. I am truly impressed with the quality of your food. It comes to me straight out of the kitchen, and it's four hours old! Everyone here is part of my team. Mondays and Thursdays, I look forward to seeing Mark, my driver. And - I really look forward to the fact that Washington will not succeed in cutting funding for Meals on Wheels. I've already contacted Senator Feinstein's office."

At the end of our delightful conversation, Supervisor Farrell presented Jerry with a few #MarchForMeals treats, including a scrumptious box of Kara's Cupcakes. Little did we know that Jerry had prepared a surprise for us, as well! Through his outreach work, he had acquired a brand new cane for the visually-impaired and wanted us to make sure that someone within the Meals on Wheels network in need of a new cane received it. He even attached a note - the envelope reading, "Dear Friend." For the record, not an eye in the room was dry.

Our thanks go out to Supervisor Mark Farrell for his generosity of spirit in spending the afternoon visiting with Jerry, spreading a little more joy around District 2; and, of course, we extend our sincere and heartfelt gratitude to Jerry, whose love can be felt well beyond the confines of his home.