Each day, I am feeling a bit more settled into my new living and work situation in San Francisco and Oakland. But I find myself exhausted after I get home from work (especially if I’m biking and BARTing) and still adjusting to a 35+ hour work week. My internal clock is still on student time of late night newspaper deadlines, free mornings for exercising and relaxing , and busy afterrnoons of class and studying.
It’s the emotional aspect that is draining more than anything. There is so much need at the St. Vincent DePaul Center in Oakland. Well, there is so much need all over the flatlands, a wide, flat slope that runs down from the hills to San Francisco Bay. The flatlands include Oakland’s most vulnerable neighborhoods, those suffering most from health disparities. In between teaching job training classes for Oakland’s homeless, low-income populations and managing case files, I continue to be exposed to some pretty horrific stories of people struggling to live on a day to day basis. It’s hard to help a client build a resume to find a job when they just became evicted from their apartment or were denied social security income for a variety of reasons. There are endless barriers to employment and it’s my job to become more aware, not only of the services (substance abuse, shelter, food, etc) to refer clients to, but to look at the larger picture instead of just applying a band-aid on the cycle of injustice in Oakland.
Yesterday, I met Leon Davis, a native of Oakland and community leader for the HOPE Collaborative. Davis accepts that his city needs to lift one foot to provide those important charitable services–but will never move towards sustainable and serious change without the other foot of justice propeling forward. This is a vague description, I know. I have a lot more to share on what Davis on the HOPE Collaboration are doing later on. For now, here is a video Davis filmed, taking a closer look at the lack of healthy grocery options in the flatlands of Oakland.