Keeping Up with Booker T.!

Keeping Up with Booker T.!

With active supporters like you, Booker T. has made an impact on our local community in both significant and enriching ways. As we reflect on our work serving the Fillmore/Western Addition in 2023, we asked our Executive Director, Shakirah Simley, and our dedicated Program Managers to share some of their proudest memories from this past year.

Let’s hear what they had to say!


Booker T. recently underwent strategic planning, which resulted in a new mission, vision, and value statements, as well as collective alignment on a north star to guide our work over the short- and long-term.  With a focus on Black Joy and Self-determination, our new mission statement, vision, and values are centered on all Black people being free to thrive in and shape San Francisco to enable prosperity and belonging for everyone.

With our goal for a planned expansion of our executive team, we also welcomed Whibs Howes as our deputy director. Together with Shakirah, Whibs participated in a 10-month Stanford Impact Lab (SIL) Evidence for Change fellowship focused on putting data and evidence into practical use. We are receiving 1:1 technical assistance and workshops to establish a new data and evaluation framework, develop strategies to measure outputs/outcomes and implement a centralized data framework leading to data forecasting and enhanced program impact. This means that we can quantifiably measure community impact, leading to a more informed and strategic management of resources, ultimately contributing to a sustainable and positive community impact.

Permanent Affordable Housing

One of our significant impacts within our community has been affordable housing. We continue to co-own and manage 50 units of permanent supportive housing in partnership with John Stewart Company; 25 of those units are dedicated to our transitional adult youth (TAY) as part of our community center model. That means that we can ensure that residents have access to a plethora of support services and case management, resulting in a holistic and comprehensive approach to housing solutions. In addition, we also were able to ensure transitions from homelessness to house keys for over 50 BIPOC families with small children this year.

— Shakirah Simley, BTWCSC Executive Director 

Youth Programming

In addition to offering quality, free, and holistic out-of-school time programming to meet the needs of over 150 students. One of the enriching ways we have impacted our community is that our youth participated in a year of fun and engaging activities, events, and programs, all encouraging personal development and growth.

“I am extremely proud of our work planning and hosting this past year’s Summer Together Camp! We were able to create once-in-a-lifetime experiences for our youth, including a week-long stay in Pacifica where we learned how to surf with our friends from the City Surf Project! We also joined our older adults on some incredible intergenerational field trips, including one to EARTHseed Farm, where we learned about Black and Indigenous land practices and deepened our connection to sustainable farming rooted in cultural tradition. Another memorable intergenerational adventure took us to Santa Cruz, where we enjoyed a day at the beach and shared fun memories along the boardwalk.

During the summer of 2023, our youth went on over 25 field trips, including visits to public libraries and 6 local colleges. Once summer came to a close, we ensured students were prepared for school by distributing over 100 backpacks during our annual Backpack Drive!”

— Daniel Maria, BTWCSC K-TAY Programs Manager

Older Adult Programming

This past year was filled with adventure for our older adults here at Booker T. We had a blast exploring the outdoors, discovering new art exhibitions, and much more!  Several significant things happened within this sector of our community, As Shakirah mentioned, not only were we able to offer housing to our elders, but our senior programming reached ~185 seniors – mostly BIPOC women – with a breadth of experiential programming. Our community-driven program covered a wide range of interests and topics oriented towards reducing isolation and building community (e.g., yoga, cooking, healing circles, podcasting, etc.). Ensuring that older adults and adults with disabilities in the Fillmore/Western Addition age with dignity, feel healthy, supported, and uplifted is at the heart of our programming.

“We really did have such an amazing year! Serving the older adults in our community has forged and tightened community relationships. The fierce architects of our Senior Wellness Program — older adults and adults with disabilities — continue to be at the helm of our community advocacy work here at the Center. In 2023, our seniors spoke in front of the Board of Supervisors, advocating for food security in the city budget and reparations for Black San Franciscans. I am equally proud of our Senior Wellness Program team, particularly Brett Martinez, Senior Wellness Coordinator, who joined full-time in November of 2023. Not only that, but the eight-person Senior Advisory Council has remained active and continues to offer feedback on programming. In addition, these amazing individuals volunteered their time to support food distribution, community building, and other as-needed activities. Together, we coordinated and hosted numerous focus groups with community partners, organized monthly outings across the Bay Area, and facilitated meaningful weekly programming five days a week throughout the year. And let’s not forget the joyous intergenerational summer we had! In 2023, participants in our Wellness Program for seniors enjoyed a total of 12 outings to museums, green spaces, local performances, and more!”

— Eryn Kimura, BTWCSC Senior Program Manager

Food Justice Programming

In addition to playing an active role in advocacy and systems building with the local food justice scene, we continue to feed the Fillmore by ensuring youth, families, and seniors have access to healthy, fresh groceries and warm meals through our Farm Fresh Market, which offers a weekly grocery-store like experience to clients, and hot meal delivery program. Every week, we serve over 1,500 unique clients directly through our food justice and sovereignty programs – and reach many more people with food at our celebrations – disbursing an average of 2,850 meals and food resources a week and 11,400 per month. Through a partnership with AIM, we delivered approximately 280 boxes of fresh produce a month to clients with accessibility constraints. We uplifted culturally relevant food, including meals cooked by Black chefs and produce sourced from Black farmers, and integrated these offerings into cooking classes, nutrition education, and experiential meals. That’s a lot of food and an equally great amount of full and nourished bellies!

It’s great to see our work pan out in tangible ways! Our Food Justice Program has worked hard to ensure that we provide quality, culturally relevant fresh produce and meals for our community. We have successfully fed hundreds of youth, families, and seniors. Being able to provide nourishment to community members and witness the impact that our Food Program has had on their lives is inspiring, and it motivates our staff to continue building a sustainable food system here at BTWCSC. In 2023, we served over 43,000 meals to our community members and successfully hosted over 50 Farm Fresh Markets, where our neighbors can access nutritious produce and vegetables.”

— Juanita Bruton, BTWCSC Food Justice Program Manager

Teen/Transitional-Aged Youth (TAY) Programming

Woohoo! What can I say? Team Teen/TAY program participants all day! Not only have we made a significant impact through our intersectional approach, which treats them holistically, but youth receive mental health support, food, and community-building support, including fellowship opportunities that offer practical skill-building with approximately eight youths rotating through BTWCSC departments annually.

Throughout the past year, something enriching is that we have observed remarkable levels of personal growth among our teens and young adults.

“We accomplished so much in our Teen/TAY program last year. Through our engaging service-learning projects, culturally relevant workshops, and enriching field trips, teens were given opportunities to reflect on their goals of personal growth and development. I was especially proud of the Teen/TAYs and their active participation at the Teen Summit, where they passionately engaged with attendees to share information about the impact that sugar has on the health of underrepresented communities, particularly Black and brown communities. Over 100 teens from across SF attended the Teen Summit, delving into topics like financial literacy, community violence prevention, and more! We even had the opportunity to distribute a brand-new pair of sneakers to each TeenTAY participant! Last year, our TAYs continued to build trust and community within the group during life skills workshops and activities. We were also able to distribute many household items, such as kitchenware and holiday boxes to TAY Program participants!”

Hazel Arines, BTWCSC Teen/TAY Coordinator 

Community Wellness/ Family Stabilization Programming

The Community Wellness Family Stabilization Team has played a pivotal role in holding a nurturing and supportive space for families and individuals navigating traumatic experiences in our community. Recognizing the profound impact of these challenges on familial stability, the team has been steadfast in providing a safe environment where community can share their stories and struggles without judgment.

“Through therapeutic interventions, counseling, and community resources, the team works collaboratively to empower families to stabilize their lives. By fostering a culture of resilience and empathy, we have created an atmosphere where healing is not only possible but inevitable. Our commitment to elevating individuals and families, promoting health, and fostering thriving communities exemplifies a profound understanding of the interconnectedness of well-being and the transformative power of collective support. In 2023, we provided families with free weekly therapy, grief counseling, rent relief and eviction defense support, essential supplies including diapers, formula, grocery vouchers, COVID tests and PPE supplies; we also connected clients to all our programs offered throughout the center, such as food justice services, and  afterschool programming.”

— Jasmine Murray-Thomas, BTWCSC Community Wellness Program Coordinator

As we look ahead to our work in 2024, we carry these moments and achievements with us, fueling our passion to continue making a meaningful impact. Thank you for being part of this inspiring journey, and we look forward to continuing to serve our beloved neighbors in the Fillmore/ Western Addition.



Dominic Dorsey
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