Feeding the homeless this Saturday, Dec 21

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We’re delighted to partner with our uber-talented and kind-hearted food truck designer Kyle Wai Lin and his friends and family this Saturday, Dec 21 to distribute food from the Kasa Food Truck to the homeless at St Vincent de Paul in the Tenderloin from 6p to 730p.

For at least one evening, the food truck trend that the rest of us have been enjoying around town can be enjoyed by those in more trying circumstances.

It was remarkably challenging to set this event up, despite our intentions. Kyle was originally trying for Thanksgiving but we could not get the logistics worked out. Who would have thought that at a time when people are freezing and in need of food, we cannot just get out there and feed them! Even now, we are still looking for one more non-profit organization to partner with for this Saturday afternoon, so please pass the word.

I have intense emotions towards the homeless situation in SF, and I even carry a bit of paranoia of ending up homeless myself. Growing up with a lack of financial security is probably where it’s stemming from, and I know that the government-assisted housing in London kept my family from spiraling out of control.

I speak to a lot of homeless folk as I live in the Mission and work on Polk Street and have learned a lot about their back stories and the details of their day to day lives. So many details life that we take for granted, like having a bit of privacy or taking a hot bath, are just missing for them. It’s heart breaking.

Many of the homeless do not look like what one might expect. Many homeless don’t look ‘homeless’ and are struggling to keep the secret. Kids are trying to go to school, people trying to find jobs. To exasperate the problem, shelters can be scary, intimidating and dehumanizing, not to mention laden with crime.

It could indeed to happen to anyone given some unfortunate situations and a lack of a safety net or support network, especially here in SF where there is a lack of affordable housing.

Friends and family don’t always understand why I live in the heart of the Mission and love the Tenderloin. For the most part, I am not afraid or irritated by the presence of homeless folk. I don’t want to move to a neighbourhood where I can essentially ignore the situation and pretend it does not exist. It’s not that I do anything to help the situation other than treat people with respect and humanity, but it feels important to me to face it and know that it takes all kinds of people in many situations to make up the world.

Here on Polk Street, homeless is more linked to drugs and my compassion gets tested severely. Like tonight, as I look out the window writing this post late night at Kasa Polk, a woman walks in who appears to be on some kind of drug, a towel wrapped around her head, nose running with an intimidating presence pronounced by some very dark eye liner. She came close enough to invade my personal space and asks me for $1. I politely refused, and she stared at me and threateningly asked again. My first reaction was anger at this person attempting to bully me for $1. My second reaction was fear. What if she just unpredictably hits me or worse spits on me? She told me I was going to hell, and I wanted to smack her!

My job as a business owner is to keep out potentially mentally unsound, drugged out persons and protect my customers, employees and business. I was angry that I had to deal with it at all and put myself in danger. Even though I rationally know that it is pointless being angry given the complexity of the situation, it still happens.

What I love about this city though is that the majority of people are smart and compassionate enough to understand this.

Given my feelings toward this issue, I jumped at the chance to partner with Kyle when he contacted me. So I look forward to it and A HUGE thanks to Kyle and his friends for leading this.

We’ll be at St Vincent de Paul at 525 5th Street (@Bryant) from 6pm to 730pm. Kindly spread the word to anyone who would benefit from a complimentary hot meal this Saturday night.