Profiling the Tenderloin

Throughout the semester, I have been mentally filing away potential profile subjects. As soon as we were given the assignment to profile a person, place, business, or organization in our neighborhood, I began flipping through those mental files. There were two possibilities that I especially liked but also seemed problematic.

One came while I was at the Tenderloin police station community meeting last month. I was intrigued by Sgt. Patrick Kwan, who said the neighborhood has changed a lot in his 15 years here. “The Tenderloin has came a long way and, for me, I think is going the right [direction],” he said. When he said that, I wanted to find out what kinds of changes he has seen and what gives him hope for the area’s future. I was also interested in hearing his perspective on the challenges the police face in the Tenderloin. Also, I interviewed him briefly and he was polite and approachable and answered all my questions. However, I worried that it might be difficult to get enough sources. If I have the opportunity to interview him, I would still like to, but it just didn’t feel right for this project.

Another idea I had was this so-called “healthy corner store” named Radman’s that is supposed to be opening at the corner of Turk and Jones streets. I learned about it from Ryan Thayer, who heads the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation’s efforts to increase healthy food options in the neighborhood. There is a lot I would like to find out about this store, but it hasn’t been easy to get a hold of Thayer.

There were some other ideas I considered, but they did not pique my interest enough to do a full profile on any one of them.

I eventually settled on the St. Anthony’s Foundation because it aims to help the many people living in the Tenderloin who are poor or homeless or struggling in some other way. I feel it can give a sense of the neighborhood’s troubles while also showing something is being done about it. I was also impressed by its impact when an employee told me 40 million free meals had been served there.

I’m planning on writing a little bit about the foundation’s history, how it got started, and how it has changed over time. My story will focus on the work it does right now, though. I intend to go to at least one of the free meals and visit the rest of its programs. I’m hoping to interview both people who work there and people who have been helped by its services. There are a number of things I hope to find out about the foundation, but two of the main things I am interested in learning are where funding comes from and what it is like for the people who work there to deal with such severe destitution on a daily basis.

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One response to “Profiling the Tenderloin

  1. Your final sentence is the one that intrigues me, too. How do you keep on keeping on in a job like this when there’s always more mouths to feed, more sores to clean, more people sick and dying?

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