Happy New Year from HOPE SF!

As the seasons changed from sunny fall days to longer winter nights, residents and families across HOPE SF gathered together to celebrate community and holiday festivities.

October kicked off the holiday season, beginning with a celebration of autumn in the Sunnydale Pumpkin Patch. On a warm, sunny afternoon, residents of all ages gathered to celebrate the changing of the seasons. There were stacks of bright orange pumpkins dotting the field, with pumpkin carving stations for each person to create their own jack-o-lantern. Families spent the afternoon in the bright fall sunshine, playing games and enjoying fresh popcorn snacks.

The spooky season arrived next, with pumpkins and festive decorations hung all around for a fun, frightening Halloween. At Hunters View, resident leaders and the Community Wellness Hub worked together to create a Haunted House, built into the Hunters View Community Center. Kids dressed in their favorite costumes and lined up down the block for their turn to brave the Haunted House. Resident leaders dressed in spooky costumes hid throughout, waiting to jump out and surprise eager participants ready for a scary good time. The day’s theme was “Boooo to Cavities!”, and families were given supportive tips in maintaining good oral health, as well as healthy treats like tangerines and cheese sticks instead of candy.

November ushered in the season of giving thanks and gathering with friends and family. In the spirit of the season, residents volunteered their time to distribute turkeys and other seasonal ingredients throughout the community. 

Across all four HOPE SF sites, over 800 turkeys and bags of food were unloaded, organized, and handed out to residents ensuring that everyone had a turkey for their table during the Thanksgiving holiday. A week later, residents gathered at Alice Griffith to break bread and share turkey, stuffing, and gravy while offering gratitude and blessings during a community Thanksgiving dinner. During the third week of November, Sunnydale Community Wellness Program (SDCWP) took part in a role that supported residents in increasing their knowledge about diabetes prevention, education, community awareness, healthy lifestyle changes, and early detection.  SDCWP was able to provide residents with ingredients that can be used to prevent or delay diabetes at the thanksgiving dinner table and provided several diabetic friendly holiday recipes.  Some of the many education materials that were given to residents included the differences between each diabetic type, the impact diabetes has on personal health, and the support systems SDCWP has available for residents who need the extra push in developing positive habits related to health. Whether sharing a holiday meal with family or at one of the many community Thanksgiving celebrations, the spirit of giving thanks to loved ones and neighbors was shared throughout HOPE SF.

The holiday season ended with a crescendo as the year came to a close. Community events celebrating the many winter holidays created space for residents to share in holiday festivities. Potrero Hill residents celebrated the Christmas holiday with a festive dinner and community food distribution. 

Toy giveaways and meetings with Santa took place across HOPE SF, with residents gathering to share love and the joy of the season. Kwanzaa events uplifted the seven principles of Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith), celebrating African American cultural heritage and values. In December, SDCWP had the pleasure in providing Sunnydale residents education that pertained to preventing the spread of influenza, understanding the differences between influenza, RSV, and Covid, the importance of hand washing, how to correctly wash hands, and gave strategies on how to combat the flu if the virus had been contracted. Vapor rubs, tea bags, vitamin C supplements, cough drops, face masks, latex gloves, hand sanitizers, facial tissues, low-sodium canned soups, instant hydration packs, honey packets, Lysol wipes, disinfectant sprays, hand soap, Covid tests, and thermometers were packaged into holiday themed stockings and given to all participants.  

As New Year’s Day marks the beginning of 2024, the start of a new year provides an opportunity to pause and reflect on the creativity and collaboration led by residents throughout the past twelve months. From youth-focused events supporting HOPE SF students on their way back to school to many cultural celebrations and resource fairs, this past year has been one of community strength and success. As the HOPE SF Initiative continues its progress through various development phases, the next year will be full of new opportunities, as well as resident-led community development and growth.

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