In 1997, my friend Taj Mustapha and I began walking the streets of San Francisco, trying to find disconnected young people who didn’t have a place to stay and didn’t have any consistent support in their lives. We didn’t know what would happen.
We were armed with, well, almost nothing. No office. No work phones. A $36,000 budget. We had backpacks with snacks, socks, and toiletries. We took our clients out for a cheap bite to eat. But the most important thing we offered them was ourselves: our hearts, our minds, and souls. And we learned how truly powerful this was.
We were honored to discover that night after night, these young people slowly started to let us in. They began to trust us and open up to us. They told us what they wanted out of life, and how we could best help them. We did a lot of listening and did whatever we could to support them.
For more than 20 years, it has been a privilege and an honor to be part of our clients’ lives, and to be part of a community of thousands of staff, board members, donors, volunteers, and community partners that has provided our youth with unconditional support. The ATC community has helped our clients dream, and then helped turn those dreams into reality. It has been magical to witness. My coworker, Mari Amend, just completed an extraordinary oral history project for our 20th anniversary that features some of the incredible members of our community reflecting on their involvement with ATC. I urge you to take a moment to check it out
In August, I’ll be stepping down as Executive Director of At The Crossroads. I am so excited for what the future holds for ATC. We are only as strong as the people who are involved in the organization, and we are lucky to have countless individuals who are dedicated to our youth, who bring their hearts, minds, and souls to this work. Your continued involvement is what gives me great confidence and optimism in ATC’s future. Our young people are in good hands.
I am truly grateful to have gotten the opportunity to know so many of you, and to have worked side-by-side towards a common goal. You have enriched my life with your brilliance, your passion, and your empathy. Thank you.
I am most grateful to my teachers – the thousands of youth I have been able to get to know. Not a day goes by when I don’t think of a lesson that you have taught me. All the people in my life know this, as I annoy the hell out of them by constantly telling them what I have learned from our clients.
You have unflinchingly shared your darkness with me. You have thoughtfully shared your wisdom with me. And you have boldly shared your life experiences with me. You have my heart. You will be with me, and I will be with you. Always.